Violin Varnish: from the workshop Koen Padding

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In one of the most useful books on the subject, the writings of the late Koen Padding appear for the first time in one collection.

Koen was known to violin makers worldwide through his Magister company, which produced and researched varnish materials based on historical sources.

This book comprises all the articles and notes he wrote on the subject. The text has been enlarged with the inclusion of advice and insights that Koen gave personally to users of Magister products. It provides a wealth of information from practical varnishing techniques to the history and analysis of classical coatings including the influence of alchemy.

Lists of materials left in the workshop at Koen’s death are included as well as details of purchases made from his principal suppliers to help those who wish to develop their own materials.

  • 170 x 242mm hardback
  • 144 pages
  • Full colour illustrations
  • ISBN: 978-0-9933075-0-8

English text only

Editor Helen Michetschläger has been a professional violin maker for over thirty years. She was a student with Koen Padding at the Newark School of Violin Making in the 1970s and a regular user of Magister products. Helen is a frequent contributor to the Strad magazine and has been a speaker at BVMA and the Newark Lutherie conferences. The Padding family have given their approval to her work on this book.
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Introductory articles by John Dilworth and Roger Hargrave give the background to Koen Padding’s varnish research and an overview of his aims in producing the Magister materials.

Chapters by Koen Padding provide detailed information on analysis of classical coatings, varnish application techniques, the use of UV and the influence of alchemy in the understanding of historical manuscripts.

  • A rational look at the classical Italian coatings
  • Detailed analysis of the varnish layers on classical instruments including colour photos in UV and VIS
  • A fresh look at Sacconi’s research
  • Explaining the illusory effects of classical violin varnish
  • Interpreting manuscripts and understanding techniques of the past
  • Early documentation of wood treatment and varnish sources
  • The Magister varnishing system
  • Detailed instructions about how to apply each layer in a varnish coating including information about wood treatment, varnishes, pigments and siccatives
  • Varnish components and formulation
  • Analysis of the functions of the components of varnish ingredients
  • Use of ultraviolet sources in lutherie
  • A practical guide to the safe and effective use of UV light in the workshop
  • Through thick and thin
  • Historical evidence for the use of solvents
  • The use of horsetail
  • Equisetum for wood finishing
  • Hatching alchemy from an egg
  • Analysis of a pigment recipe from the 1580 Paduan Manuscript

Appendices list varnish materials and equipment left in Koen Padding’s workshop and materials he ordered.

A detailed bibliography lists the varnish-related books Koen Padding owned and references other relevant books and articles.