At shows I always invite people to handle my jewellery - why? Because it's the best way of them realising that it is not as fragile as it looks, or as they have assumed it is. This is due to the fact that a vital part of the process of making these pieces both at the start and when finishing them is varnish, the type used and the number of coats each piece is given. Varnish not only contributes to the overall appearance of the finished pieces but also does an important job of making them stronger, more durable and water resistant. However in the majority of cases it does not make the paper brittle and it retains some flexibilty.
I have done a lot of research (thank goodness for the internet) into what other origami paper jewellery makers use, strengths and weaknesses of different options and, very importantly, what I could buy in the UK as many of the sites I found were based in the USA and so not all the brands mentioned were available over here - for one the cost of delivery from the USA was double the cost of the varnish itself!
I also looked at reviews on that well known website named after a river, and other reviews, and information, and then repeated the process to find suitable glues (but more on that in another blog).
However it was important and time well spent as I want my jewellery to be the best I can make it.
So, what were the results?
This was the first varnish I used and liked but when I started looking into things in more detail I found out about others, and as a brush on varnish it wasn't suitable for all my pieces. However it is still useful as I find that as it is a fairly thin varnish it is perfect for pre-coating paper before I use it, and this s now something I do with all my paper - the photo below shows some paper drying after being coated on both sides.
These three are my favourite varnishes for finishing purposes. The one in the tin is fast becoming my favourite, it gives a lovely satin finish, and goes on and dries very easily, unfortunately you can only get the semi-gloss finish version over here as I refuse to pay the quoted cost for delivery of the gloss version. The middle one is again a paint on one which seems to add the most body to the paper and has a wonderful gloss finish, however I have found that it doesn't suit all papers as on some once you have given the piece a few coats it can feel a bit tacky. The third is an aerosol one which I mainly use for my more detailed pieces such as those in my vintage collection. It's very quick to use, gives a beautiful shine and finish but ...the smell! It really is one where you need to open the windows first and then exit the room quickly after varnishing and closing the door behind you, and it is supposed to be one of the more acceptable ones in terms of smell.
None of these claim to be waterproof but they do all state that they provide water resistance and which ever I use, pieces typically get between 4-6 coats.