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VARNISH: A resinous solution of certain gums or resins in alcohol, linseed oil or the like, used by cabinet-makers to produce a shining, transparent hard coat on a surface. A receipt for making an antique varnish is given in a book entitled Art Recreations, published in 1860: "Take one ounce pure Venice turpentine; mix with two ounces spirits of turpentine and warm in a large bottle. In another bottle put four ounces best fir balsam and two ounces of 95% alcohol. Shake each bottle well at frequent intervals for six hours or more, then mix both preparations in the large bottle. The whole should stand several days in a warm place before using."
VARNISH REMOVER: Marketed under a number of different names, but all with practically the same base, it is the best solvent for old varnish and paint. It is very inflammable so that it must not be used near a fire. It does not injure the wood, raise the grain, or harm the glue. It is the only solvent suitable for use on veneered furniture. It is rather slow in action and expensive compared with lye, but a more satisfactory result is obtained and it is less harmful to use.
VASE MOTIF: A favorite form of decoration on furniture, carved, painted or inlaid. Vase-shaped members were also introduced into the structure. In the reign of Queen Anne, splats of vase outline were common on chairs.
VENEER: Veneering is a process of achieving ornamental results that would be impossible if solid panels of wood were used. It was first commonly used in England for that purpose in the William and Mary period, before which time only furniture of solid wood, with few exceptions, had been made. It consists of a thin layer of wood showing a rich grain, overlaid upon a body of plain, solid wood. The walnut veneer of 1700 cut with a hand saw was from a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch thick, while the mahogany veneer of modern times has been reduced in some instances to one-fiftieth of an inch in thickness. Veneering at the time of its adoption was used for sound decorative purposes and not solely for purposes of gain, as is too often the case in modern furniture. What is known as three-ply veneer is a modern invention. Crotch veneering is obtained from planks cut from joints on the tree from which the branches spring.