Jeffrey Holmes

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About Jeffrey Holmes

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  • Birthday July 23

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    Ann Arbor/Tecumseh
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  1. No argument. There is the past... and then there is the future. There may be more hesitation these days than in the past when deciding to graft a neck on a fiddle that has had it's original since 1650... or 1790... and once a chest patch is in, it's kinda difficult to reverse. If it fails it'll need another one. Sound post patches are still considered acceptable, or standard procedure... as are button patches, but some other inset patches are often resisted as "last resort". As I mentioned, perspective can alter future decisions. My hopes are that any discussion of this sort aids in decisions for the future.
  2. I'm bumping this with hopes that the discussion may pick up again...
  3. I wrote: "(I guess with iPads, text books are falling out of fashion)" :-)
  4. I've not resorted to bleaching, but I suppose there might be a situation it could be effective. I just lighten to shoulder by cleaning as much as possible and try to make the wear pattern as natural as possible with retouching. As a friend says "violins wear".
  5. Hello Giovanni; I use a product called "Magic Cover" from the Kittrich Corporation. It's getting harder to find (I guess with iPads, text books are falling out of fashion), but it is still available on Amazon here. Concerning the sweat soaked ribs: Carefully heating the area that is contaminated with salts and oils from the sweat with a hair dryer and wicking off what rises to the surface with a cloth works pretty well (it doesn't help the hide glue issue on the interior, however). There are also restoration/conservation soaps, like Vulpex, that can be mixed with stoddard solvent (20 parts solvent/one part soap) that can help get more of the stuff out after you've wicked out what you can. If you use an alkaline soap, before you seal the area, make sure you neutralize it with distilled water.
  6. When you come back from hiding... I've not found appropriate use of a plastic barrier on a rib (I use book cover, not shelf liner; low tack) or 3M flexible tape on and edge affects the sound of an instrument in any discernible way... and it's easily reversible. 'nuff said.
  7. Agreed. I think the landscape (and therefore the decision that is made) can be affected by perception, however. I doubt Scarampella violins would sit near the top of the Modern Italian heap if so many had not been re-graduated and "corrected" (sometimes cosmetically). So many have, though, that I've seen few in original condition... I bought the last one I saw, kept it around for a while, and decided to leave it alone and sell on as-is at auction. Like to think someone bought it who appreciated it for what it was, but of course I have no idea if that's the case.
  8. Great subject, Nathan. I'll be watching this, as I believe we can all do with some healthy introspection. Andreas mentioned "Restorers are being paid to 'live the dilemma'. We can't do it right for everyone." Even though we may try to select the "best" road to follow when we take on a project, there are many factors that can get in the way. What's acceptable, in terms of intervention, has changed significantly in the almost 4 decades I've been working... and there's that blasted budget thing (will the owner pay for what's really needed to safeguard what's original). We can try and educate owners, but we can't force them to do what we think is "right"... and even if we could, we need to safeguard we ourselves don't suffer from hubris. The three volumes of "The Conservation, Restoration, and Repair of Stringed Instruments and Their Bows" is a excellent snapshot of where we were at the time, but snapshot it is. Just as some of procedures in the Weisshaar book have fallen out of favor, some of the contributors to the Conservation trilogy have modified their techniques since it was released. Natural course of events, I think. We build on the shoulders of those who worked before us and try what seems to be the best choice at the time. Technology has produced a number of promising improvements in terms of equipment and materials (laser scanners and heavy bed cutters for matching tear outs, less invasive & effective surfactants, clay gels, etc.). Some equipment is still out of reach for the average restorer, but things are getting cheaper. In the meantime, some of those who can afford the tech scan and cut for hire. Then there's profit motive. Those selling instruments (not only recognized dealers) often choose the attempt to "improve" the performance of the instrument rather than leave it be... One prominent shop referred to adjusting thicknesses as "sending the instrument back to college". This is one of those subjects that could probably benefit with frank and open discussion... When are "adjustments" of this type acceptable, or when can they be justified? There are still a great number of areas in restoration and conservation that differ... especially when it comes to museum level conservation (I worked for a conservator when I was in school). I believe, in great part (and considering other motives), this stems from the fact that these instruments, even 300 or 400+ year old ones, are used on a daily basis for modern playing... not just displayed. The following quote has helped me over the hump more than once... though admittedly it leaves much to the individual to interpret: In his paper “Considerations for the Ethical Conservation of Historic Musical Instruments”, John Sinclair Willis wrote: “No historical object should be restored to a state of functional operation unless there is a reasonable prospect that the result will meet with the minimum standard of its original maker, or of a competent historical user, and that it will be properly maintained thereafter.” I do hope that this discussion continues of (as Mark said) for years... if not here, somewhere. We do our best to keep it going in Oberlin each summer.
  9. I find it difficult to make reliable recommendations viewing damage from a 2 dimensional perspective... and I can't tell what, if any, portion of the top is severely deformed... or if a cast is required... but.. that said... it "appears" the cracks illustrated may be good candidates for lifting the purfling, relieving the edge, and closing the crack with a series of pillars, wedges and pillar clamps after the cracks are carefully cleaned. This technique can correct minor local deformations by allowing very effective control over the arching contour. I think you'll need to try and get the cracks as tight as possible. Adding small amounts of moisture near the crack at stubborn spots, if you have them, may help... but don't get things too wet or the wood can curl at the crack site. It looks as though that in photo 1, the crack extends through the edge already (on the side of the summer grain closer to the saddle). If so, if edge material needs to be removed, that's probably where I'd do it. Didn't have time to blow up the other photos. I don't know your level of experience, but if you go for lifting the purfling, it takes some care... try not to fracture it while you lift it or while it's free from the groove. Don't stress it. If it does come up for you cleanly, I believe you can redistribute it slightly around the bouts (once the cracks are closed) when you reglue it, and trim a little (where it will inevitably overhang) off the length at the saddle mortise to accommodate the lower bout cracks, and at the neck mortice to accommodate the upper bout crack. If all goes well, no joint in the purfling will be necessary. My 2 cents.
  10. I'm with you Duane. The outline hit me (first impression) as possibly Gand pere around 1830-ish, but that fiddle has seen some serious use (wear), so I'm not feeling like I'm on solid ground. Could be younger than it appears and/or have something have something to do with the Bernardels.
  11. Hi Mark; Sorry... would have responded sooner but I've been occupied with another "situation" for several days. I've seen some (what appear to be) old repairs fine cloth reinforcement that has held up well, but I personally don't have enough confidence to use this method on the plates (though I'll use a linen on ribs). I've seen many problems with parchment. I've "played" (experimented) with washi paper, though not on customer instruments, as well. I have no idea how that would hold up long term, though the multi-directional fibers are interesting. I prefer cleats also, as I believe the reinforcement stabilizes the crack in a different (beneficial) manner (controls flex at the crack) than cloth would tend to do... but I can imagine there are applications, depending on the location of the damage, that a cloth reinforcement might actually be superior. My 2 cents.
  12. So where did all the posts go? My fault. I'd have clipped the politics out of this thread soon after it started, but was traveling this weekend.