Practical & Artistic Violin Varnishing: 2017 Skokie Ill- April 22nd – 29th

Practical & Artistic Violin Varnishing”


Welcome to the workshop.

We thank you for your interest in the 2017 Violin Varnish workshop.  This week long course is designed to advance and refine each participant’s varnish technique and build upon each individual’s artistic vision. Our focus is on application and sight training: ground coating, wood color, varnish layering, mixing color and a variety of application and polishing techniques will be addressed.  We will explore the history and evolution of violin varnish.  Through good information and informed choices, varnishing a violin is a simple and straightforward and fun process.  Each of us has extensive experience in varnishing and teaching and we are committed to making this part of violin making successful and enjoyable for you.

Staff: Joe Robson, Marilyn Wallin, and Todd Goldenberg

What we do: The workshop group of 3 staff and up to 18 participants, each with a different kind and level of experience, quickly develops a “crew” atmosphere. Our focus is to understand the materials and how they work together through application. Our scope is comprehensive. There are many “proper” ways to varnish a violin. The workshop curriculum will include basic techniques which apply to any varnish: ground applications, choosing and mixing color, managing texture, polishing etc. We will demonstrate [with your participation] complete and shaded varnishes [Joe and Todd] and the methods to create an antiqued finish [Marilyn]. In addition to our full time staff we will have “visitors”. Chicago is a hub of both contemporary violin making and shops which offer antique instruments. We anticipate visits from both [and they bring some nice “eye-candy”!].

Where we will meet: We will meet this year at the Chicago School of Violin Making. CSVM, founded by Tschu Ho Lee, is in Skokie, Illinois, just outside Chicago. CSVM is a full time teaching program and we will have full use of their facility for a week of their break between semesters. The room has good light, excellent bench facilities, and good ventilation. Chicago is an exciting center for the violin trade with various shops and makers in the immediate area.

What to bring: Each participant [and each staff member] will bring 2 instruments [violin or viola]. One instrument in the white, prepared for ground. One instrument with a ground applied, prepared for varnishing. You may also bring a third instrument which is already varnished. This would allow you to follow the antiquing process as you work with Marilyn on methods of antiquing. The sessions on antiquing are open to everyone, even if you are not antiquing an instrument along with Marilyn.

Each participant will have bench space and an individual drying box. Basic bench set up i.e. violin stand and cradle, varnish mixing tools, good lighting, shop supplies [cloths, solvents, gloves etc.] are all provided. You are encouraged to bring any varnishing materials which you would like to use or experiment with.

Materials Kit: The workshop is a time for experimentation. If you have specific materials you would like to try, please bring them. The workshop materials kit [see attached document] is a comprehensive set of products and brushes which will allow you to experiment and varnish a number of instruments. It is provided at about 50% of retail value to encourage your experiments.

Accommodations: Arrangements have been made with the Extended Stay America Hotel in Skokie. This facility offers large rooms with kitchen facilities in each room. The hotel is about 3 miles from the school. We will have transportation available between the school and the hotel. There are many restaurants and grocery stores within walking distance of the hotel.

Schedule: April 22nd – 29th. We will begin on Saturday afternoon of April 22nd. After 1 pm. you can join us there, set up your bench, and get acquainted. Our initial formal meeting will be at 4:00 that afternoon. The workshop will close at noon on the 29th. For those of you flying in or unfamiliar with the area, we can provide information about locations and travel arrangements.

The formal daily schedule will begin at 9 am. and end at 5:30 pm with a lunch break. The workshop will open about 8 am. Normal shop closing will some time after 6 pm depending on how our day’s work is coming to a close.

Cost and payment: The workshop fee is $1550 [$1565 if you wish to use Visa or MasterCard]. This covers both Tuition and the Materials Kit. Payment by check will be made to: Violin Varnish Ltd. Mailing address:Violin Varnish Ltd., 14 Prospect Street, Trumansburg, NY 14886.

Registration: To register please fill out and return [by email or mail] the attached registration form. Send a registration check for $250 [payable to Violin Varnish Ltd.]. Registration checks will not be deposited until after the 1st of January 2017. Upon receiving your registration form and down payment you will be sent a confirmation email which will reserve your bench space. Payment in full for the workshop fee will be due on or before March 1, 2017. Post-registration withdrawal with the return of your fee will be possible only as long as we are able to fill your place with another participant.

Contact: If you have questions or concerns please feel free to email me at or call 607 387 9280 during business hours Eastern time.

Following are files detailing the workshop:

email 01 05

workshop registration form

Violin Varnish Workshop 2017

varnish workshop kit 2017 2

varnish workshop kit 2017 1

Information 2017