Varnish Laboratory

We take great care in the manufacture of our pigments and paint formulations. The artistic paint finish refines the instrument and makes it an unmistakable sculpture. The varnish that is created over many weeks and manifold layers gives the instrument its dignity:

17 photos:

© Meisteratelier für Geigenbau Martin Schleske, Landsberg am Lech 2021 | Photos #6/#7/#14 © Janina Laszlo | Photos #9/#11 © Johannes Pfau.

Now that I have brewed hundreds of known varnish formulas (ranging from the 12th century to the present) and analyzed their acoustic properties, I am able to personally make all of the primers, pigments and oil varnishes I use in my workshop. When I make instruments, I am concerned with the sound and also with the visual impression the instrument makes.

The deep, gleaming coloration of the varnish is produced using pigments from the madder root. By adding different salts, it is possible to reveal a wide spectrum of different shades of color. I like to model the appearance of my instruments on the Flemish school of painting with contrasts between areas that are visually more subdued and others that stand out more. I tend to work with complementary pigments.

I have developed my own varnish formula through years of research in acoustics as well as in “alchemy”. In my varnish and acoustics lab, I have had the opportunity over the years to analyze a number of instruments by the great Italian masters in terms of their damping properties for comparison with the acoustic evolution of my own varnish.

For more information about the acoustic secrets of violin varnish see Violin acoustics handbook and Publications.