BAPCR Associate member of the
British Association of Paintings
The International Institute
for Conservation of Historic
and Artistic works.
of the BDMA
More usually we hear the term 'varnishing' or 'the varnish layer' Helmut Ruhmann and other restorers of his generation introduced the addition of wax to a varnish. This is where the term comes from when describing the transparent layer on a paintings that has been in a conservation studio.
High gloss varnish has been used by artists in the past. Historians and conservators observed that high gloss varnish will lose its very high glossy reflection in time. We can see,for example, a painting that is one hundred years old already has the look of age by being less glossy.
Restorers of the generation I am discussing wish to emulate this look. It was found that the emulation could be achieved by the addition of wax. The various processes of how to do this was include in my training. In my studio I change the relationship of varnish and wax to suit the respective age of the paintings.
One of the aspects of Ruhmann's training was to adopt principles of practises of reversibility. The use of wax is consistent with this in that the wax will keep the varnish 'soft' and this is suitable for future treatment.
Adjustable arc spraying was developed by this generation. There are many advantages to this approach. One of the greatest is that the 'thickness' of the coating can be adjusted. In contrast brushing varnishing has several complications. The appearance of too much varnish is very hard to avoid. Also the restores work can be far to easily 'pulled' out of shape.
Adjustable arc spring is amazingly thin. The 'coated' appearance of oil paintings is a critical important adjustment. This training introduced by Ruhmann in the 1960's started a whole new generation of restorers. I feel fortunate to have been included via the training of Judy Blofeld. The practice at my studio highlights the feature of 'coating'.
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