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I am fairly new to your forum and I am not sure whether is fine to ask a question already placed some time ago.
I am currently at my final year of my Icon painting studies in Russia and I will soon be faced with this dilemma of varnishing. Here at our school they have taught us to varnish using Olifa,boiled linseed oil. This method works well in Russia due to their weather conditions but in my country Cyprus, Olifa tends not to dry and remains sticky. It also doesn't provide enough protection. Apart from that it ruins the warm and cold relationships upon which the icons are built on. Some people tried using Olifa mixed with boat varnish to make the final film stronger. Others just place Olifa for 5 hours remove it, wait for the icon to dry and varnish with an acrylic varnish. This provides some protection from the solvents in the varnish and ensures even spreading of the varnish. I have tried replacing Olifa with Poppy oil that doesn't change the colors and then place the varnish on top. This still is not ideal since this oil as well doesn't seem to dry in my country's conditions.
I have read your suggestions about PVA ethanol or acetone based followed by varnishing. This is the first time I read about it and I have some questions.
1. Will it be fine to use this method on a freshly painted icon? Wont the acetone or ethanol react with the egg since they are organic solvents? People don't understand that an icon needs to cure before varnishing.
2. Will the isolation layer be even since no oil is present to saturate the ET layer?
3.Does this method provide sufficient protection? People tend to care for icons but not in a proper way which sometimes destroys them
4. Does this method has any effects on naturally occurring pigments such as cinnabar, lapis lazuli, carmine?
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PVA or B-72 varnishes should have no effect on cured true
egg tempera paint. One should wait until it has dried sufficiently. They should
also cause no harm to the reactive pigments you mention. Please read through
this thread as it covers much of what you are asking: