Varnish or lacquer prints

I’m wondering if anyone has experience with varnishing prints. I’m trying to get darker matte prints. I’m using the k7 selenium inks on Hahnemuhle photo rag and type 2 papers. I’m wondering if anyone has tried varnishes such as TIMELESS Archival Varnish. I’m also interested in varnishing to protect the prints without glass.


I’ve been varnishing prints for years, though I’m not sure if what I’m doing corresponds well to your interest. I use Winsor & Newton Conserv-Art Glass Varnish on Light Impression’s Apollo Tissue (applied with a non-textured cheap foam roller). The varnish: intensifies the tonal scale (blacks deepen), makes the already thin paper more translucent (some light penetrates the varnished paper, reflects off the backing material, and is transmitted back through the paper to “merge” with the light reflecting from the print surface), and creates a (to me) beautiful hard semi-gloss finish. I hope that makes sense. The inspiration for this process came from viewing the original Hill & Adamson’s work in the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. Among the prints were several of their original paper negatives, which had been “treated” to make the paper more translucent. Early practicioners tried many ways to accomplish this including oil, grease, and wax. I have experimented with varnish and wax on lots of media over the years, with varying degress of success, but the tissue/varnish effect is my personal favorite. The prints literally glow.

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