My Blog

By jc-violins, Aug 17 2016 11:13AM


Any painter and decorator will tell you that the key to a good finish is careful preparation. When it comes to violin varnishing, one of the most important aspects of preparation is achieving a good colour in the wood before the varnish is applied. The goal is to produce a colour that resembles as closely as possible the celebrated Cremonese “golden ground”.


My method consists of a 5 stage process, aimed at not only producing a good colour, but also leaving the wood with the right amount of reflectivity, a nice contrast in the grain structure and the correct surface properties to accept the varnish coats. The photos show my latest viola undergoing stage 3 of the process: curing of a home-made photosensitive stain that produces a golden brown colour to the wood on exposure to UV radiation. This normally happens in a purpose built UV box using sunbed tubes, but here I’m making the most of a gloriously, but sadly infrequent, sunny day in Sheffield to give it a “natural” tan. My workshop Christmas lights are performing their out of season duty as an instrument hanger!