500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

What do Minstrels and our floorboards have in common?


Wanting to stay as close as possible to nature – we decided to try Shellac as a varnish on the stripped floorboards. This is bought in the form of flakes and dissolved in a very strong alcohol – it would have been nice to use a local alcohol – and would have certainly smelled more pleasant, however it needs to evaporate completely – so Slivovice was not the thing to use. Shellac is a secretion from an Indian bug, which is then scraped off the trees and processed. It is the same bug which is used for the production of cochineal – and in fact, Shellac is used in food production – such as over the brightly coloured coatings on Skittles. Yum. As with anything in our immediate environment – including skin creams, the fact that it comes in an edible form gives me confidence that we’re not inadvertently poisoning ourselves by using chemicals which have not been tested a, in combination with other chemicals, and b, over the course of lifetimes rather than weeks to check of ill effects. Shellac has been used for hundreds of years in the form of French polish. It has a long history as well as uses in the food industry.

We have two litres of Shellac made up, I’m interested to know how far this will go – so far I’ve used it to treat the areas of floorboard which have woodworm damage – long dead woodworm which has attacked the wood from the sides, rather than the top – suggesting to me that the woodworm was in the wood when it was cut into planks.

The filler I made up with sawdust and shellac hasn’t been successful – perhaps because the sawdust wasn’t fine enough. I was hoping I could fill the woodworm holes with this mix, but it’s not quite right yet. It’s nice having the chance to experiment anyway.

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