Crappy Design: Package for Dammar Varnish

Recently I ran out of Dammar Varnish. This is the stuff oil painters use to varnish and protect their finished paintings. I had bought a seemingly lifetime supply many years ago in a few glass liter bottles. But finally that ran out and I had to buy a new batch.

This stuff is hard to find in any quantities. It’s about $50 for a liter, which is what is in this can.

Dammar Varnish

I opened it to use for the first time today, and I was completely baffled when it was open. As you can see, it has a wide mouth and not much height. It seemed impossible to pour from this into the small saucer-like dishes (kind of like the soy-sauce dishes in sushi restaurants) artists use for varnishing. It was not possible without spilling all over it.

Here I must explain that Dammar Varnish is an absolutely nasty material. It sticks to everything and can never be removed. Obviously, it is designed to protect paintings for centuries. Once it gets on something, that something is pretty much ruined. It’s like pouring superglue over things. So you don’t want to spill a drop, for reasons of avoiding destruction of what’s underneath, and because it’s so expensive.

Eventually I found a larger dish and a plastic funnel I was willing to ruin forever just to get the varnish out of the can. Even then, it spilled all over the rim and I poured way more than I needed, it just came out too fast. It also dripped down into the top rim of the can (see red arrow) and all over the plastic spout. I am pretty sure that in a day or so, the spout and the top will have fused and I’ll never get the can open again.

What were the designers of this package thinking? Clearly, not one of them ever tried to use it for varnish and actually dispense the stuff from that can.

I wish I had saved the old glass bottle. Then I could use the funnel now relegated forever to varnish and pour the whole thing into that bottle. I guess I have to go to a container store and find a suitable bottle I can transfer the stuff into.

Oh, the problems I have.

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