Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish

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Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish is a varnish made from the best grade of natural dammar resin dissolved in aromatic and aliphatic solvents with UV light stabilizer.

Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish is made from the best grade of natural dammar resin dissolved in aromatic and aliphatic solvents with a UV light stabilizer. Conservar will not oxidize or yellow for 50 years if protected from UV light as shown by accelerated aging tests conducted at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.* Conservar achieves optimum wetting of the paint surface to enhance and bring out colors, has a minimum solvent action on paint, and maximum resin content for best coverage. It dries to a film that levels well and can be rubbed when dry for less gloss.

Dammar is the most common varnish since the 19th century that gives a very high gloss. Rublev Colours offers this natural resin in several varnish formulations, such as the traditional five-pound cut in turpentine (Neil’s Best Dammar Varnish) if you want to use it for mediums (which we do not recommend but many continue to do), and as a traditional picture varnish (Dammar Picture Varnish) in petroleum solvents. However, the best form of dammar as a picture varnish is Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish. While dammar is a popular varnish, stronger and more polar solvents will be needed to remove it as time passes.

* Rie, E.R. de la and McGlinchey, C.W. 1990. A hindered amine light stabilizer affects the aging of dammar and mastic varnish in an environment free of ultraviolet light. In Cleaning, retouching and coatings: Technology and practice for easel paintings and polychrome sculpture. Preprints of the contributions to the Brussels Congress, 3–7 September 1990. J.S. Mills and P. Smith, eds. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works:160–4.

Recommended Uses

Conservar Finishing Varnish is recommended as a final varnish on the following paint films:

  • Alkyd
  • Oil

All varnishes work differently on casein, distemper, egg tempera, gouache, and watercolor paintings than on acrylic and oil paint because the varnish is absorbed by the paint and paper, becoming an integral part of the picture that could cause discoloration as the varnish ages. In addition, varnishes on works created using casein, distemper, egg tempera, gouache, and watercolor cannot be removed because they become an integral part of the paint layer.

To varnish casein, distemper, egg tempera, gouache, watercolor, and drawings, apply an isolating coating on the painting or drawing first, then apply a final picture varnish, such as Conservar Finishing Varnish. The final varnish can be removed without damaging the painting or drawing underneath. Remember, any isolating coating becomes a permanent part of the artwork since the paint layer absorbs it.

Important: Always make a test piece of your application and surface to ensure desired results.


A four-fluid ounce (118 ml) can cover approximately 80 square feet (7.4 square meters).


Before actual use, it is essential to test Conservar varnishes on test pieces to understand how they perform and how they alter the surface appearance of your paintings. For best results, apply to a test piece similar in composition to the artwork to be varnished. This will help ensure that a successful varnish application will be achieved.

When to Varnish

Wait 6 to 12 months for most paintings before varnishing with Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish.

Preparation for Varnishing

Acclimate your painting and varnish materials and tools to the same environment. At least several hours before varnishing, place all items, such as your painting, brushes, containers, and Conservar varnish, in the same room. Varnish in a dust-free environment with the least amount of air movement to avoid raising dust.

It is best to brush or spray apply Conservar varnishes. Other methods, such as applying with paint pads, sponging, or rolling, are not recommended, as they may result in foaming, loss of film clarity, non-uniform coverage, excessive film build, sagging, or deposit of materials from the application tool.

Brush Application

Apply with a wide flat, soft-hair brush. Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish can be thinned up to 20% with turpentine. DO NOT MIX WITH WATER. Apply a second coat if necessary to even out the sheen of the painting. Allow to dry for three days, and wipe the varnished surface with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Spray Application

The best way to achieve an even varnish coating is by spraying. This is particularly true for impasto surfaces. Spraying is also a helpful technique for creating a matte surface. The size of the surface to be sprayed will determine the best type of spray equipment to use. Conservar varnishes can be sprayed from an airbrush, airless or air-pressure spray equipment, or a refillable aerosol spray can.

To prepare for spraying, make sure all equipment is free of dirt. Work in an area free of dust and dirt, and keep work off the ground when spraying. Spray two to four light, even coats instead of one or two thicker applications, allowing enough time for drying between coats (1 to 4 hours or until the surface is tack free).

Release the spray trigger when stopping the motion of the sprayer during application to avoid a buildup of varnish in one spot. Maintain a uniform distance from the surface, and avoid spraying in an arcing motion. Make straight passes across the work, changing direction once the spray has cleared the edge of the piece being varnished. Slightly overlap the spray pattern with each pass until the entire passage has been covered.

To achieve a more uniform spray application, turn the painting 90 degrees and apply the subsequent coat perpendicular to the previous one. A typical spray application lays down a film only 1/8 to 1/4 the thickness of a brush coat application. If maximum protection is required of the varnish layer, apply multiple coats.

Drying Time

When applying multiple coats (spray application only), allow 1 to 4 hours between coats. Inspect the surface for tackiness, which may mean the coat is not sufficiently dry. Let the varnish cure for several days before packing or transporting the painting. Avoid contacting the surface with packing materials, including glassine, bubble wrap, or any other plastic, during transportation and storage. NEVER STACK PAINTINGS, whether varnished or not.

Care and Storage

As Conservar varnishes are removable, it is essential that they not be painted over. Paint applied over the varnish would also be potentially removable and would pose a difficult problem in conservation or restoration attempts.

Techniques for Reducing Gloss

There are several different ways to reduce the gloss of Conservar varnish:

  1. Dilute the varnish with additional solvent before using.
  2. Apply a thin coating. The thinner the coating, the lower the gloss.
  3. Brush the varnish as it dries. When the varnish is starting to set up, if you continue to brush it, you will microscopically roughen the surface, making it less glossy.
  4. Spray apply the varnish.

If the varnished surface of your painting appears too glossy, you can apply a final coating of Conservar Wax. Rub on a thin layer of wax with a soft, lint-free cloth using small circular strokes. Allow the wax to dry overnight for the highest degree of matte. Let the wax dry for 4 to 6 hours to create a satin finish, then gently buff.


Clean all equipment immediately following application. Clean brushes with turpentine. Always make a test piece for your application and surface to ensure desired results.


Use a clean, soft, lint-free rag dampened with turpentine. Gently rub the varnished surface and repeat the process until all varnish is removed. Do not use stronger solvents. Allow to dry and reapply Conservar varnish.


Conservar is a trademark of Natural Pigments. Rublev Colours is a registered trademark of Natural Pigments.

More Information
BrandRublev Colours
VendorNatural Pigments
Processing TimeUsually ships the next business day.
Resin TypeDammar

Hazard Pictograms

FlammableHealth HazardExclamation Mark
GHS09: FlammableGHS08: Health HazardGHS07: Exclamation Mark

Signal Word: Danger

Hazardous Components

Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated light

Hazard Statements

Flammable liquid and vapor.

Causes skin irritation.

Causes serious eye irritation.

May cause genetic defects.

May cause cancer.

May cause respiratory irritation.

May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways.

Precautionary Statements

If medical advice is needed, have product container or label at hand.

Keep out of reach of children.

Read label before use.

Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces. No smoking.

IF SWALLOWED: Do NOT induce vomiting. Immediately call a POISON CENTER or a physician.

IF ON SKIN (or hair): Immediately take off all contaminated clothing. Rinse skin with water.

IF INHALED: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing. Call a POISON CENTER or a physician if you feel unwell.

IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing.

Conforms to ASTM D4236.

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Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish
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