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Terry Foreman   Link to this

Varnish is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. Varnish is traditionally a combination of a drying oil, a resin, and a thinner or solvent. Varnish finishes are usually glossy but may be designed to produce satin or semi-gloss sheens by the addition of "flatting" agents. Varnish has little or no colour, is transparent, and has no added pigment, as opposed to paints or wood stains, which contain pigment and generally range from opaque to translucent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varnish

Bill   Link to this

On 20 April 1661 SP mentions "indian varnish":

The Indian Varnish for Cabinets, Coaches, and suchlike.
Take the highest rectified spirit of Wine a quart, seed Lake or shell Lake five ounces, put them into a glass body; and dissolve the Lake in Balneo (but beware lest the water in the Balneum boil, for that will turn the Varnish white) this done strain the matter through a Flannel bag, and keep it in a glass bottle close stopt for use.

Where note, 1. That if the spirit is good, it will (if you put Gun-powder into it) burn all away and fire the Gun-powder. 2. That this Varnish done over leaf Silver, turns the Silver of a Gold colour. 3. That this is that varnish which Coach-makers and others use for that purpose. 4. That it preserves the Silver which it is laid upon from the injuries of the Air. 5. That being laid upon any colour it makes it look infinitely the more beautiful. 6. That if it lies rough you may polish it with the impalpable powder of Emery and water.
---Polygraphice: Or the Arts of Drawing, Engraving, Etching, Limning, Painting &c.; W. Salmon, 1685

[Lake, a red colour used in painting, cinnabar.]
[Balneum, a double-boiler]

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