Balsam Spike Varnish is actually a painting medium as well as a varnish. It can be mixed with tube paints to create a smoother flow under the brush, and to balance the texture of different pigments. By adding additional Oil of Spike Lavender, Balsam Spike Varnish can be used as a touch up varnish or a final picture varnish.
In addition to Canada Balsam and Spike Lavender, there is Water-Washed Walnut oil in this medium. Water-Washed Walnut oil dries with a great structure for paint, but does not yellow over time. Oil of Spike Lavender works extremely well thinning out the paint, while supporting the walnut oil.
Starting in the 1800s, Canada Balsam was used by artists because of its clarity. Unlike rosin and Venice turpentine, Canada Balsam forms a film - not by evaporation alone - but by the joining together of components in the balsam itself (polymerising monoterpenes and di-terpenoids). This results in a much tougher and resilient paint film. Further, it has a high refractive index, and was used historically for gluing microscope glass slides.
For those artists who prefer to use natural mediums in their work, Balsam-Spike-Varnish is the high end first-class approach, with all ingredients in the mix being superior to the standard. The ingredient proportions are: Canada Balsam - 4 parts, Water-Washed Walnut Oil - 1 part, Oil of Spike Lavender - 2 parts.
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