Salve Håkedal, violin maker
Violin varnishNext to the music that can be made with a fiddle, for many people the most fascinating thing is the varnish: "Is it the varnish that makes the Stradivaris ...".
Maybe it is, but anyway: In to hundred years violinmakers has tried to recreate the varnish that was used in Italy in Stradivaris time, also because it is beautiful.
Most makers agree that it was based on linseed oil:
Linseed oil, from flax, has been used on wood in unmemorable times. But to build a varnish layer it has to be mixed with a more solid substance. In Stradivari's time they had to choose from a few natural resins. One of those, that I use, is mastic.
Mastic and twig
Mastic is a soft resin from the mastic tree, growing around the Mediterranean.
Transparent colour is added to violin varnish. Chemical analysis has revealed madder red in the Old Italian Varnish. The madder plant is one of the worlds oldest sources of red colour.
Madder. The root contains red color.
With turpentine and a little more, this makes up the varnish that I have used in ten years, with good results.
More on varnish Question or comment ? write to Violin maker Salve Håkedal