Gamblin Gamvar


Gamvar, made by Gamblin, is a low molecular weight synthetic-resin varnish. The Gamvar kit comes in two parts: a jar containing Regalrez resin granules, developed by René de la Rie at the National Gallery, and the solvent, which are mixed together to prepare the varnish.

The low molecular weight of Gamvar allows it conform to the contours of the painting, which is especially advantageous when the painting has significant three-dimensional texture. Gamvar also has a high refractive index making quite glossy and similar in appearance to more traditional varnishes made from natural resins such as dammar and mastic. Although visually similar to traditional natural resin varnishes, Gamvar offers some distinct advantages. Unlike dammar and mastic, Gamvar does not yellow over time and furthermore it does not cross-link with the paint layer making it easy to remove.

Gamvar Technique 1

The solvent used to thin the Gamvar, Gamsol, is made by Gamblin and was mixed in a 3 parts Gamvar to 1 part Gamsol ratio. The varnish was applied in two coats with drying time allowed between applications. Each coat consisted of two passes of a 1 ½” Robert Simmons White Sable Skyflow brush (278W) across the painted surface.

Gamvar Technique 2

The technique of application of the Gamvar was varied to attempt to achieve a more matte appearance. To do this, the varnish was brushed on in the exact same way as technique 1, but then blotted with a rag to attempt to roughen the surface. This technique did not produce the expected results of a more matte appearance, but rather produced more of a spotty appearance in which some areas are glossy and others are not.