Violin varnish is one of the most legendary, debated, essential, important, mysterious, controversial, beautiful, misunderstood, intriguing, fascinating and challenging parts of violin making.
The term 'violin varnish' usually means the preparatory wood treatments and varnish grounds that precede the actual application of the varnish as well as the varnish itself. Violin varnish is applied for two main reasons. First, to preserve and protect the wood while not inhibiting its vibratory responses, and second, to enhance and beautify the wood of the violin.
John has always taken a keen and enthusiastic approach to producing his own varnish, which he does to this day. John uses only materials available to the makers of the Golden age of Italian violinmaking of the 17th and 18th centuries, not because of any resistance to modern or synthetic materials, but in John's words, 'They do the job just so much better'. The same applies to John's use of colouring matter, preferring natural classical pigments to synthetic ones.