My Spirit Varnish Recipe

Spirit varnish is nothing else then varnish made with alcohol. There is a lot of secrecy around the perfect recipe, which is certainly very important, as long as you like it is the best.
I would advise you to experiment with it and will discover things you don’t like and that you will change. 

When I first came to Cremona the recipe was kind of a secret: everyone was keeping theirs for themselves. I went through a lot of trials and errors to get to the recipe I am going to share with you today. 

The instruments i varnish with this kind of varnish are the Linea Macchi and the Scala Perfetta ones.  

Once the varnish is dry, it is really similar to the oil one, but it finally depends on the way you apply it.
I love oil varnish and if I had to choose I would go for oil varnish, but spirit varnish is an easy type of process and it’s also fun to use and to explain.
After a lot of years experimenting with spirit varnish I start by using a plastic container with a cap, in which and I pour my ingredients. 

To make your own spirit varnish you will have to measure with a scale: 

  • 3 liters of Alcohol
  • 16 grams of curcuma, it gives a nice yellow color. If it’s too yellow for you don’t put so much 
  • 50 grams of benzoe, it makes the varnish a little more shiny 
  • 80 grams mastix 
  • 200 grams of juniper 
  • 400 grams of shellack 

After you add all the ingredients you have to shake the mix. You don’t need to cook it, you just leave it and give it a good shake every day. 

Before you use it, you then have to filter it: I use a nylon filter (some old pantyhose are fine) or a cotton cloth to get a filtered varnish to then apply on my instruments. 

Edgar Russ

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