Desert Varnish What Is It? How Is It Used In Stone Carving?

Woodcarving Basics | Popular Woodworking

Desert Varnish is made up of three major elements. The first is clay that adheres itself to the surface of the stone. Next let us look at the minerals which are the second part of the recipe. The region where the varnish is created greatly affects the color layered on the stone. If the region has a high concentration of manganese oxide in its mineral composition the varnish created in that area will generally be a dark color more on the glossy black side Ecopoxy Near ME. A region that has a high concentration of iron oxide will produce browns and varnishes with an orange tint. These minerals blow around in the air with the dust and attach themselves to the clay. Add a touch of moisture, like morning dew, and combine with the heat from the sun to create the finally ingredient, bacteria. These ingredients plus anywhere from 50 to over 100 years time and you will start to see the beginnings of a coating of Desert Varnish.

Many ancient stone carvings, or petroglyphs, are found where this varnish has coated the stone surfaces all over the world. I had to take all this information into account when figuring out to recreate Desert Varnish in my studio to help perfect the creation of my wall art. When I first started stone carving I collected all the stone myself. The stone was naturally aged and many pieces did have some patina or Desert Varnish on them. When I started purchasing the stone for my carvings direct from the quarry there was no aging and therefore no contrast when I went to carve on them. I realized I needed to educate myself about how Desert Varnish is created naturally in my quest to continue stone carving.

I studied the aspects of Desert Varnish in nature and in an attempt to recreate the recipe. I also had to figure out how to hurry the whole process up. After many failures and much trial and error I found a recipe that is working well. As usual it is an ongoing experiment and holds the promise of only getting better and better outcomes. The result at this time are wonderful pieces of hand carved stone wall art that have the look and feel of Desert Varnish but the patina did not take 50 to 100 years to create.

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