VPCo XL Agate Burnisher v5/015
v5 XL Burnishers
The VPCo XL Agate Burnisher is the world's largest production burnisher, and it's handmade in Scotland. It is an ancient, manual polishing tool that can be used on paper, leather, vellum and some fabric cloths.
THE VPCo XL Agate Burnisher is an investment for craftspeople. It's an essential tool for anyone who uses paper, leather, vellum, some cloths, and gold leaf, in their craft. It is made to last a liifetime and longer!
Most agate burnishers are small tools, intended to be used on areas of gold leaf. Our XL burnisher is large enough to polish entire sheets of paper in minutes. It can be used single or double handed, by lefties and right handed people without any customisation or special technique required.
The VPCo XL Agate Burnisher is shipped for free worldwide and comes supplied in a pretty cloth storage bag, sewn by hand in Orkney.
This is the fifth production version which is pretty much unchanged from the first - if it aint broke, etc! Every burnisher is handmade - each handle and stone unique.
WHAT IS A BURNISHER?
The VPCo burnisher is a simple, but effective tool crafted from a teak wood handle with a carefully shaped, jewelry grade, Brazilian agate stone set into it.
This tool, reassuringly hefty in the hand, and the storage bag it comes with, is handmade in our workshop in Stromness, Orkney, Scotland.
WHAT IS BURNISHING, WHAT DOES IT DO AND WHY DO IT?
Burnishing is polishing and smoothing.
It is a simple process, done by rubbing one surface against another, eg agate on paper. In our craft, bookbinding and printmaking, we use this tool daily on paper, leather and vellum.
The act of burnishing does two things:
Consolidating (flattening) paper fibres removes most, if not all of the texture in the surface, giving an attractive, sophisticated, glossy, texture-free finish to paper.
Burnishing is especially effective on decorative printed papers (marbled, relief printed, machine printed etc), changing both the appearance and surface characteristics to the eye and to the touch.
For example a hand-marbled paper is normally supplied unburnished - it has a flat, matt appearance. Burnishing marbled paper creates a wonderful, glossy paper with an almost reflective surface.
If you take a moment to look at old books with marbled paper covers, they're almost always shiny and glossy. This is because they were burnished by the 19th century bookbinder as a matter of course; it was just another day-to-day process. It's quite unusual to find an old marbled paper covered book with matt papers.
As mechanisation and cost cutting took hold in the bookbinding world, hand burnishing was one of the processes which fell by the wayside. Here at VPCo, the majority of our Properly Made Books are still burnished by hand.
On leather, the act of burnishing can change the surface from grained into an almost patent like finish. On vellum, it creates a reflective, super smooth surface, perfect for highly delailed calligraphy and botanical watercolour.
Burnishing consolidates the surface fibres of paper, flattening and closing the spaces, which helps that surface have a greater resistance to damage like tears and dirt ingress (fingerprints) etc.
Paper can be burnished without a polishing agent - important if the paper is to be worked on after burnishing. However, if you are burnishing finished paper such as a marbled paper then a polishing agent such as a wax (beeswax, carnuba, or even a fragrance-free soap) can be used in conjunction. This can enhance the polished look and add protection to the paper.
ARE THERE TYPES OF PAPER THAT CAN'T BE BURNISHED?
We've used this tool on almost every kind of paper and art material imaginable. The one type of paper which can't be burnished is paper with lumpy inclusions such as seeds. Attempting to burnish this type of paper will end in disaster!
IS BURNISHING NEW?
Historically, burnishing has been a process used in papermaking ever since paper was invented. It was used to change the characteristics of rough paper, turning it into smooth paper, especially useful for artists creating highly detailed calligraphic and botanical works.
In India, for example, some smooth papers are still produced today using stone burnishing. As mentioned above, burnishing was a day-to-day process carried out by bookbinders.
There are still one or two notable paper marblers who burnish their papers before shipping.
Agate is a very strong stone and resistant to wear and tear and day-to-day knocks. We use jewelry grade agate from Brazil, generally acknowledged as the highest grade stone available.
It is cut into flat pieces in a rotary saw and then carefully shaped into a 4 inch wide rectangles - the polishing edge has an almost imperceptible curve across its length which gives a perfect, even polish.
Each stone is cut from a different rock, this means that every stone has it's own unique character, like a fingerprint, which can be seen when held up to the light.
The stone is mounted into the handle with silicone. This should last for years, but if for some reason it does fall out, it can easily be remounted by cleaning off the old silicone with a craft knife, re-siliconing and remounting in the slot in the handle. It's very simple.
Cut from sustainable, beautiful teak wood, the handle shape has been developed for single and two handed use and it doesn't matter if you're left or right handed either. The teak has been varnished so that the handle can easily be cleaned and won't take on day-to-day stains.
Our logo has been deeply engraved into the front and acts as both a symbol of quality and as a grip.
The VPCo XL Agate Burnisher is supplied with a protective cotton bag made here in Orkney. We recommend keeping it in the bag to protect the leading edge of the stone from getting chipped.
Please note that the images are for general illustration only. Due to the natural properties of wood and stone, each burnisher has its own unique visual characteristics but these do not affect the performance.
1. FLATNESS - Our most important tip is to burnish on as flat a surface as possible. We use a litho stone but if you don't have one of those, and why would you, you should use a blemish-free craft mat.
2. CLEANLINESS - Make sure the paper you're about to burnish isn't sitting on tiny particles of workshop detritius otherwise this can cause damage to the paper when burnishing.
If you're polishing a paper you've printed, make sure that print is bone dry. Burnishing wet ink just causes streaks and unhappiness.
3. TEST - Always test burnish a small piece of the material. Every material and type of paper has its limitations - for example machine made paper can be burnished to a high sheen but it isn't as strong as most handmade papers.
Some handmade papers, especially Indian cotton paper can delaminate if over burnished. This is because it isn't particularly well made paper in the first instance.
4. LISTEN & LOOK - When burnishing, listen to the sound as the stone flattens the surface; As you polish out the texture, the sound changes. You want the same sound across the sheet.
Look at the surface, make sure you're not over burnishing. This can end up tearing, wrinkling and ruining your good work. Experience and practise is your friend here.
5. DIRECTIONS - Burnish equally up, down, left and right from the centre of the material. Always try to burnish beyond the margin so that the polishing covers the entirety of the piece you're working on.
- Hand-carved Brazlian agate polishing stone - 4 inches, 10cm wide
- Teak wood handle
- Deep carved logo grip
- Protective soft cotton bag
- 5 yr guarantee*
- FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING
*5 year normal use guarantee. Excludes accidental damage and is on a "return to seller" basis. We reserve the right to physically inspect, mend, replace or refund at our discretion. This guarantee is in addition to your normal statutory rights.
PLEASE NOTE- The photograph of this burnisher is backlit to show the detail within the stone.