by Mike McNamee Published 01/06/2012
Hahnemuhle have introduced three varnishes for use with fine art prints. They will mainly be used on canvas but they also provide substantial protection for paper prints. Testing varnishes is a little involved as we have to measure the effect of the varnish on 'before and after' prints. The options are to make a profile using a varnished, profile-building target or to make a profile, use it, and measure the audit print both before and after varnishing. In the end we used a mix of methods and here is what we found.
We used Hahnemuhle Daguerre canvas which is an optically brightened, poly-cotton canvas that we tested way back in June 2008. We chose this option so we could see how the varnish affected the performance of the OBAs (and did not get the result we expected!).
Each of the varnishes was quite different in consistency and look (in the jar that is!). The gloss required just a little stirring but the satin and matt required the recommended three or four minutes to lift the settled solids from the bottom of the jar. The matt varnish was a much more milky appearance (think milk of magnesia!). The actual containers (1 litre) were easy to open, not a given with varnishes, and had an additional push-fit seal under the screwed lid.
The varnishes were applied in turn by spooning a puddle into the middle of the flat print, to occupy about a quarter of the surface area. This puddle was then 'pushed' around the surface very gently using a high-density foam roller and only the weight of the roller itself. The coated print was then rested to allow the varnish to level down and any bubbles to be released. Vigorous brushing or rollering is not recommended as it causes foaming and can even rub ink from the 'hill tops' of the canvas. The prints were then allowed to dry for a couple of hours before measurement. We only used a single coat; our preferred method is to apply a single coat, frame up and stretch the canvas and then apply a final coat to the stretched canvas.
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