Decals come either press-on or varnish transfer. The varnish transfer decal is inverted.
Every minute detail of the varnish decal is hand painted with extra-thick (old/cured) varnish. Once the varnish is barely tacky… i.e., it will barely stick to the hairs on the end of your nose… the decal is turned right side-up, placed into position and clamped overnight to allow the varnish to cure.
All decals are then rubbed with a special roller or burnishing tool prior to softening the paper backing with water and removing. The decal must be buried in several coats of lacquer to preserve it.
In this video, Frederic “Ric” Sterry Smith and this technicians meticulously repair several beautiful soundboards.
Mason & Hamlin: (1) Soundboard decal installed. (2) Meticulously painting the minute details of the soundboard decal
W. W. Kimball Co.: (3) Soundboard repair, shims and dowels (4) Pinblock and soundboard decal close-up
Chickering & Sons: (5) Soundboard rim detailed and trimmed in scarlet felt. (6) Soundboard with new decal refinished
Conover Soundboard Decal (7)
Knabe Soundboard Decal (8)
Chickering & Sons: (9) Old decal ribbon (10) New Soundboard decal
Steinway soundboard decal photo framed. (11)