This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
Light-coloured paints, especially those having white-lead as a basis, rapidly discolour under different circumstances. Thus white paint discolours when excluded from the light; stone colours lose their tone when exposed to sulphuretted hydrogen, even when that is only present in very small quantity in the air; greens fade or darken, and vermilion loses its brilliancy rapidly in a smoky atmosphere like that of London. Ludersdorf thinks that the destructive change is principally due to a property in linseed-oil which cannot be destroyed. The utility of drying oils for mixing pigments depends entirely on the fact that they are converted by the absorption of oxygen into a kind of resin, which retains the colouring pigment in its semblance; but during this oxidization of the oil - the drying of the paint - a process is set up which, especially in the absence of light and air, soon gives the whitest paint a yellow tinge. Ludersdorf therefore proposes to employ an already formed but colourless resin as the binding material of the paint, and he selects two resins as being specially suitable - one, sandarach, soluble in alcohol; the other, dammar, soluble in turpentine. The sandarach must be carefully picked over, and 7 oz. is added to 2 oz.
Venice turpentine and 24 oz. alcohol of sp. gr. 0.833. The mixture is put in a suitable vessel over a slow fire or spirit-lamp, and heated, stirring diligently, until it is almost boiling. If the mixture be kept at this temperature, with frequent stirring, for an hour, the rosin will be dissolved, and the varnish is ready for use as soon as cool. The Venice turpentine is necessary to prevent too rapid drying, and more dilute alcohol cannot bo employed, because sandarach does not dissolve easily in weaker alcohol, and, furthermore, the alcohol, by evaporation, would soon become so weak that the resin would be precipitated as a powder. When this is to be mixed with white-lead, the latter must first be finely ground in water, and dried again. It is then rubbed with a little turpentine on a slab, no more turpentine being taken than is absolutely necessary to enable it to be worked with the muller ; 1 lb. of the white-lead is then mixed with exactly 1/2 lb. of varnish, and stirred up for use. It must be applied rapidly, because it dries so quickly. If when dry the colour is wanting in lustre, it indicates the use of too much varnish. In such cases, the article painted should be rubbed, when perfectly dry, with a woollen cloth to give it a gloss.
The dammar varnish is made by heating 8 oz. dammar in 16 oz. turpentine oil at 165° to 190° F. (74° to 88° C), stirring diligently, and keeping it at this temperature until all is dissolved, which requires about an hour. The varnish is then decanted from any impurities, and preserved for use. The second coat of the pure varnish, to which half its weight of oil of turpentine has been added, may be applied. It is still better to apply a coat of sandarach varnish made with alcohol, because dammar varnish alone does not possess the hardness of sandarach, and when the article covered with it is handled much, does not last so long.