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Thanks for your detailed reply and for all the work on this outstanding site.
The bottle is labeled Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS in gloss, satin and matte. Yes, it is intended as a sacrificial protective surface. I do include a detailed document with each piece explaining how the piece was made, the materials used and how to remove / replace the varnish for whatever reason. My encaustic medium is pure Damar resin powder and filtered beeswax, ranging from 6:1 to 8:1 ratios pigmented with Gamblin and Sennelier dry pigments.
Though I do create some encaustics that are more traditional which I often do not seal with varnish, my current style and presentation is such that I cannot use glass and do not want to leave the wax unprotected at any time when on display, which is why I started using the Golden removable varnish as it seemed to be the ideal choice for an encaustic. All hydrocarbon removable varnishes that I tried would soften up the wax to some degree. Removing them with mineral spirits did even more damage. On most pieces I do buff the surface to a pretty high shine before I apply the varnish and put the gloss or a mix of gloss and satin that matches the way the bare wax looks as closely as I can. In most cases it is difficult to tell whether a piece has or has not been varnished so I keep good records of what was done. If I accidentally start to apply new wax to a piece that has been varnished, bad things happen. All the varnish must be removed for any changes to be made to the piece.
I have some varnished works that are a bit over 1 year old now that look the same as the day I finished them. I have tested it extensively as far as applying and removing it. It comes off easily with a mild household ammonia cleaner per the instructions from Golden. Windex also works well. I spray the surface and let it soak for a few minutes, then wipe it off. It usually takes about 3 of those routines to remove every trace of the encastic. My panels are saturated with beeswax as a primer before I do any painting on them so the water based cleaner sitting on the surface is not a problem. No hard rubbing needed. Once removed the encaustic surface sheen and texture looks exactly like it did before I applied the varnish. I have not noticed any softening of the wax or even minute amounts of color coming off when applying the varnish or when removing it.
The pieces that have been varnished do not become dull underneath the varnish after about 18 months at room temperature, which was something I thought might happen. I don't know if they will over an extended time frame, but if they do it is an easy job to remove the varnish, rebuff the wax and re-apply a new coat. In the care instruction sheet with each piece I do mention that if the owner wishes to leave the wax exposed with no varnish, they can do so, buffing the surface with a soft cloth as needed if bloom does occur.
Thanks for the information on the PVA resin. I will do some testing with ethanol first to see how well my encaustic paints hold up to it and if they do, I will give the PVA resin a try on some test pieces.
As the Senior Technical Specialist here at Golden just curious about your initial comment, where you say that "Under the recommendation of Golden products I have been using their removable acrylic varnish for about a year now...." Just wanted to see if someone here recommended the Polymer Varnish on top of encaustic as that would be a very untested recommendation, and we would want to make sure to stress that and that using it in this way would need to be seen as experimental. That said, if it has been working well, that is certainly something for us to look into and perhaps do testing on our end.
I appreciate anything you can share - and thanks!
In any case, it is working wonderfully on the encaustic surfaces. No hint of adhesion problems or interacting undesirably with the encaustics during application or over an 18 month period of time on the surface. In one test I took a cloth saturated in the varnish and rubbed very hard for about 90 seconds on a test strip of my Gamblin Cobalt Blue pigmented encaustic and there was no indication of lifting the encaustic medium or leaching any pigment from it even looking at the cloth and the encaustic surface under 10x magnification.
I was extremely pleased at how easily it could be removed from the surface. That was a very important aspect for any protective varnish I was going to use. All of the solvent based removable varnishes I tried had problems with dissolving the encaustic medium on application as well as removal.
Here is a follow up almost 4 years later on the this process.
Every encaustic of mine with the removable Golden Polymer Varnish on them that I have been able to examine closely within the last few months is still holding up very well. No complaints or concerns with the finish have come back from any of the buyers of sold paintings. Cleaning dust and environmental deposits from the paintings with a soft rag or a rag saturated with distilled water has worked well with no visible changes to the varnish. No indications of delamination, dulling or clouding of the varnish were visible. The normal matte or satin paraffin "bloom" that an unsealed encaustic almost always produces was not evident under the varnish on any piece. They all looked as good as they did they day they were finished. The additional hardness the varnish brings to the equation has definitely helped reduce the amount of dents, dings and fine scratches that inevitably happen with encaustic works.
I recently did a major scratch repair that had penetrated all the way into the Baltic Birch plywood panel support. It was created a few months before my November 2016 post here in the forum. The varnish was removed from the damaged area plus a 6 inch additional buffer zone in all directions around the scratch. This was necessary because of the need to use a torch to fuse the newly added wax from the repair. The varnish has to be gone in all areas that are going to be heated. I used an ammoniated glass cleaner per the instructions from Golden to remove it, then cleaned the surface with distilled water and allowed it to air dry for a few hours. The varnish came off easily after letting it soak for a few minutes with glass cleaner. The bare wax surface looked like a recently buffed encaustic painting. There were no bloom or varied sheen spots evident. It was easy to tell when all the varnish had been removed. That would likely not have been the case with a satin varnish that more closely matched the sheen of the bare wax.
I then proceeded to do the repair with encaustic colors an electric heat gun and propane torch. A rolled up rope made from a damp cotton cloth, laying along the junction of the varnished and unvarnished areas prevents accidentally cooking the old remaining varnish when fusing the wax layers. If the varnish is heated too much you will end up with a mixture of scorched varnish and wax, which needs to be avoided. With the repair completed, the surface cooled and buffed, I applied a new coat of varnish that was diluted to the recommended 4:1 ratio which has not given me any problems with beading up on the wax. The areas where I overlapped the old varnish about an inch with the new were visible when first applied, but when dry I could not see the junction line. Once fully dry the repaired area blended in perfectly. I was a bit nervous about the repair on this 4 foot tall rather costly piece but it ended up being trouble free with outstanding results. I may check back in another 4 years with an update on the condition of any paintings I am still able to examine.
Thanks for the update.