After overcoming a significant mental block about commencing the varnishing process, I am preparing to put on the final coat of colour. to Viola No. 3 (Pictured are the 5 coats of coloured varnish, there are 3 to 4 process before this and two coats of clear to finish.)
Varnish has a big impact on the way people respond to the completed instrument - its colour, figure and finish. But varnishing is a bugger. There's no other way to put it. Quick drying oil varnish is hand applied to the instrument with badger hair brushes. When I say 'quick', I mean almost instantaneous. You basically get one shot at it. Any attempt to retouch a dodgy stroke simply makes a mess of it. The colour of the instrument is all in the varnish. It begins with the application of a ground of yellow, then to browns and brown/red mixes. Each layer enriches the instrument's colour and each gets increasingly harder to apply.
In a good varnish I like strong colour but maintaining good transparency to make the most of the highly figured maple, creating a three dimensional effect.