Glass and Acrylic Sheets
Normal glass and "Plexiglas"
acrylic sheets do not offer UV protection. Sheets that do offer
protection are expensive and usually impractical for the average
artist. This type of protection also limits the manner in which
a print can be safely displayed.
Although there are several
solvent and alcohol-based "fixatives" on the market,
they typically do not offer UV protection, although some do offer
UV Protective Coatings
There are other systems
that claim to offer UV resistance to fading. However, all those
tested by Golden Artist Color's Laboratory failed to offer the
protection of the MSA Varnish. Most offer only marginal protection,
while GOLDEN MSA Varnish provides significant improvements in
GOLDEN MSA Varnish
GOLDEN MSA Varnish is
a mineral spirit-based acrylic varnish that gives computer prints
water-resistance and UV protection. Although Golden Artist Colors
does manufacture a water-based Polymer Varnish, it should not
be used for computer prints. Because the inks are water-soluble,
any water-based product will smear, blur or otherwise distort
the image on the print.
Future Product Developments
The Golden Artist Colors
laboratory is pursuing an aerosol-propelled system for the MSA
Varnish. Currently, MSA Varnish is only available in a viscous
form that requires dilution for brush application and can also
be reduced further for spraying.
A custom version with higher level
of UV inhibitors and absorbers is currently being developed, specifically
for the purpose of coating fugitive ink prints (inquire if interested).
This custom formulation will decrease the number of coats required
(depending on the absorption of the paper or material printed).
& INK SYSTEMS
This field is rapidly growing and manufacturers are constantly
making improvements in the quality of their inks and printers.
While we have tested a wide variety of ink systems from various
manufacturers, we believe that you should rely on your own testing
and information gathering to make the best decision as to which
systems to use.
Maximum Protection Procedures
Allow 4 to 6 hours between
coats for sufficient drying. Significant level of protection is
achieved with 4 to 8 coats of MSA Varnish (4 coats brushed; 8
coats sprayed). A minimum of 2 brush-applied coats is recommended
for highly absorbent surfaces such as paper. Ideal protection
is reached with 3-4 brush coats of the MSA Varnish. Generally,
if a matte finish is desired, brush on 2 coats of MSA Varnish
Gloss, followed by a coat of MSA Varnish Matte. If spray equipment
is available, the final brushed-on layer of Matte Varnish can
be replaced with 2 sprayed coats of the same. If all layers are
to be sprayed, it is advisable to spray on 6-10 coats to provide
substantial protection. It is advisable to brush on the first
layers of Gloss Varnish, as this maximizes the amount of UV stabilizers
that penetrate into the absorbent surface.
The first layer(s) of
MSA Varnish applied to a print should always be gloss. This is
because of the absorbency of paper. If a Satin or Matte Varnish
is applied first, the varnish itself will be readily absorbed
into the paper, leaving behind the matting agents. This will cause
a "frosted" appearance on the surface, especially apparent
over darker ink passages.
Apply desired number of coats of MSA Gloss Varnish only.
Satin or Matte sheen: apply MSA
Gloss for the first several coats (2 for brushing or 4 for spraying),
followed by desired lower sheen MSA Varnish. This will eliminate
the "frosted" appearance mentioned above, and have better
clarity than several coats of a matted product.
Proper Thinning of the MSA Varnish
MSA Varnish must be thinned
as specified on the label directions. Thin with mineral spirits
or distilled turpentine (always use fresh supply of turpentine).
For brush-application, thin 10-30% (a 3:1 varnish/thinner ratio
is a good starting point). For spray-application, thin 1:1 with
solvent (larger spray equipment may be able to spray a 2:1 varnish/thinner
mixture). It is important to test the thinned varnish for proper
application properties before proceeding on a finished piece.
(Note: For more complete information
on MSA Varnish, application procedures and other information,
refer to the Varnish Application Information
Sheet , the MSA Varnish Information Sheet and the Acrchival Spray Varnish Sheet).
We have done a series of tests,
conducted in Golden Artist Colors laboratory, using a QUV Weatherometer
equipped with UVA-351 bulbs to determine the relative performances
of various inks and protective varnishes. Exposures of 1200 hours
under these conditions have been correlated to be equivalent to
100 years of museum light conditions. Exterior exposures will
be much more demanding, leading to earlier degradations and significantly
Generally, the results have shown
that the inks with no protection have performed quite poorly,
showing losses of 60-95% in color intensity. Prints protected
with the 4 brushed on coats of the standard MSA Varnish show minimal
to 20% loss of color intensity. There is a direct correlation
between the amount of MSA Varnish and the degree of protection
provided. When 2 brushed coats or less are applied, the results
show moderate protection, but at an insufficient level to be considered
recommended applications of MSA Varnish result in dramatically
improved resistance to water and moisture. While the varnish will
not make them completely water insoluble, the varnished prints
can withstand normal handling without the fear of smudging of
- the ability to withstand color change due to exposure to light
2Archival - the ability to last a long time