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    Finisher with chemical background. Influenced by George Frank. Not much of a maker.

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  1. Christopher, I believe the Cremonese started off by making a strictly resinous Essential Oils Varnish (EOV) using materials from their gardens. One or two of the EOs were grapefruit oil or lemon oil that was extracted from finely shredded citrus peel using turpentine. Green leaves first de-waxed and then finely shredded and then soaked in fresh gum turpentine IN THE DARK for several days was another useful procedure. Spinach or kale is great for abundant Chlorophyll (Chl). You can see where I'm going with this for the ground system. No traditional vegetable oil like linseed or walnut is included in the EOV. EOV simply works. For me, traditional oil varnishing and spirit varnishing approaches are dead ends. To build up the ground I am using two recipes because as I've insisted before, one-pot approaches for Cremonese varnishing can't possibly work. That is because one recipe is, as I've indicated above, turpentine-based. The other is water-based. Both recipes participate in gathering and transmitting light energy. I trust this posted disclosure will eventually turn away more disparaging talk. I have done rather more than mere speculation. Having put quite a few cards on the face up, I would invite others to do the same. Perhaps the most rude simply can't? NewPOV
  2. Good morning Doug. Strad's asserted the necessity of sunlight for "the varnish." This constitutes further evidence that Chlorophyll-driven photochemistry was at the core of Cremonese practice. NewPOV
  3. with occasional edits: Violin makers today are showing increased interest in the longevity of their instruments. How might photochemistry be used to extend the longevity of all stringed instruments? Very stimulating is this MN contribution of ten years ago by GlennYorkPA: http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/250548-sun-tanning/page-2#entry250694 To kick off the discussion, we already know that Chlorophyll played a catalytic role in Cremonese wood finishing. (The established heavy presence in many master violins of magnesium, which is located at the center of the Chlorophyll molecule, confirms that the Cremonese used Chlorophyll catalytically.) Chlorophyll's role is to facilitate the absorption and transfer of light energy; through resonance phenomena it promotes electron transfer for chemical changes. For many years the master finisher at the Louvre, George Frank used Chlorophyll-based photochemistry in tandem with various phytochemicals (obtained from his garden) in order to beautify the surface of the wood by, for example, accentuating the wood's figure. George thereby achieved, at least to some degree, the obvious goal of EMBELLISHING the wood. But he went on to formulate PROTECTION of the wood as the other major goal for all finishers. Said he, "There are only two reasons for finishing wood: to protect it and to embellish it." George was not thinking primarily about biocidal issues. What is so interesting to me is that by his going after the PROTECTION goal as well, he succeeded magnificently in going the entire distance with his EMBELLISHMENT goal. His thinking went like this - if photochemical transformations at the surface work to embellish the wood, couldn't the same photochemistry work within the wood's interior to protect it against chemical deterioration and structural breakdown? I am convinced that the use of an incredibly dynamic photochemical procedure for protecting the wood's interior is imperative if one is to attain violin perfection. Using more technical language, we might frame the issue roughly like this: How can we photochemically “electrocute” the wood (apply jolts of electrons to the wood), thereby to harden or stiffen it (because this gifts plate tuners with new acoustical possibilities), via chemical transformations of the wood's various materials (resulting in new structural integrity) that, in sum, extend the longevity of the instrument? Am clearly THINKING the two-recipe Chlorophyll-based method is just so laughably simple! Having developed a few specifics, then, I did not want to delay introducing the problem, summarizing here the goals we face as finishers and alluding to the accompanying set of technical issues. I am soliciting not only the collective wisdom of the forum as to general approach, but your technical suggestions and ideas. Since I'm new here, I expect you'll be able to PM me in a few days. Because it is just so incredibly wide open, I believe that this area of endeavor - photochemically completed reactions that involve phytochemicals both at the surface and deep within the wood's interior - merits active critical discussion and future research by the entire MN community. I am much indebted to my teacher George Frank, and my appreciation goes to all of the masters in MN who share of their work to nurture the community. NewPOV
  4. Are you there Fred? If not spinach, what about kale? This was clearly allowed!
  5. Don't you know he also had kale in his garden! A one-stop shopper, he went to his garden for greens and nowhere else. Also, where else do you think he got his citrus from? He had no need for peppers from Hungary.
  6. I saw need to revise my post #22. Now continuing, with edits: FIRST: I don't want any wax on the plant leaf to get into the wood because it will interfere with some reactions I very much want to occur in the wood. Moreover, that kind of wax is nothing like carnauba and is not conducive to protection of the wood. Working in the dark away from sunlight or bright light, I dip the intact whole leaf in turpentine (or xylene, etc.) for a few seconds, then shake off the turpentine (this is what the Cremonese had) from the leaf. I do this at least three times to strip off every bit of the wax cuticle. Next I cut up and grind the whole leaf into very very tiny pieces. Next keeping everything away from the light, I soak the leaf pieces for at least three days in turpentine, using a capped glass jar with frequent shaking. Exactly because I'm something of an "alchemist," I do not advocate using Chlorophyll (the standard abbreviation is Chl) as a "pigment" to achieve beautification of the wood. isn't Chl entirely too fugitive and therefore quite impractical to be a "pigment?" And aren't we varnishers first before we are painters? SECOND: Strad asserted the necessity of sunlight for "the varnish." Here is my central technical point: Chl is to be used not primarily as an artistic pigment but as a chemical catalyst for the varnish system. Why? Chl is Nature's system for absorbing and transmitting light energy. It facilitates electron transfer. Electrocution baby! I am suggesting that the Cremonese were the first to discover how to use Chlorophyll catalytically as Nature's universally available way to season and beautify or embellish the wood. THIRD: I am convinced that George Frank rediscovered the Cremonese secret. Perhaps I am just the next one to do so. I came come up with the discovery on my own. Then, because I had known George intimately, I wondered if had he gotten there before me? So I looked back over George's work very closely indeed, and now it is just so apparent to me today from George's books that he indeed used Chl as a catalyst to finish his tables. In the book I know that he took utter delight in writing, "Adventures in Wood Finishing," AWF, be sure to look up his picture of a simple table, made of scrap wood, that is placed right out there in the bright sunlight! What does that hint to you? This catalytic use of Chlorophyll is the closely held secret that he, after the Cremonese, used to bring out the figure of the wood. FOURTH: I would like to stand up now for George Frank in this forum by offering a candid appreciation of the man and his work. This is the review that I think he might have wanted me, his informal student while he was in retirement in Florida, to write someday after his passing. It is timely since I note that his relevance to our field may have gone very much unappreciated by some in MN. Unlike myself, George never bothered to establish even minimal bona fides by putting in some bench time with a stringed instrument. Everyone in the upper councils of the violin community did regard, and today continues to regard, George Frank as an "outsider," especially since he never consorted with luminaries in the violin community or, as might have been expected of him, bent his knee to its assumptions, traditions, or reigning high priests of his day. Having already attained fullest maturity in the field of woodfinishing generally, perhaps he was too rebellious or independent a spirit to submit to "go back to kindergarden" treatment by conforming to certain rites of passage, guild expectations, or other social realities or niceties that govern the violin community? Or perhaps his thinking, especially that relating to phytochemistry and photochemistry, was simply too advanced to explain to the people whom he met in the violin world, such was his opinion of their indifference, intolerance or intellectual laziness? As a genius with vast finishing experience, I can assure you, he did not suffer fools, especially fools maintaining their positions and authority through pretense. An impatient man, he could see right through all their posturing concerning what classical violin varnishing is really all about. All of that regrettable sociology doesn't matter now. George was patient with me because my passion for finishing had been ignited and I approached him with no pretense at all. I had zero interest in French polishing, though he was reputed for that. We did not waste time discussing things like the French polish. No, I had seen some very beautiful violins. It was the CORE of all Finishing itself that I was after. That was my focus. He knew I would not be easily satisfied or distracted by lesser things. I was hungry and in his own way he fed me. He became a second father to me. I would simply suggest that this man, who was after all the undisputed world class master finisher of his time, can yet teach, through his surviving books, "a thing or two" to every violin varnisher living today - if there would be but some openness of community mind to this. George was clearly ahead of his day. But what went unappreciated in George's century might become appreciated in mine. I say this because chemistry awareness is becoming so much more respected today than it was in George's time. George's highest teachings are conveyed allusively or poetically in the AWF book. That is why I would suggest that his books be read with "stereoscopic" vision - on this, see my review entitled "Nature's Beautification of Wood" at http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Wood-Finishing-George-Frank/dp/0806970634/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414670699&sr=8-1&keywords=george+frank+classic+wood+finishing#customerReviews SUMMARY: I think for the first time that we moderns can see why Chlorophyll was central to, and the sine qua non of, the summit of Cremonese violin finishing. Going forward, we moderns ought not to overlook the proper fullest exploitation of Chlorophyll in violin finishing. NewPOV ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ PS - We are all chasing after the "holy grail." For me, as you can see, the lost Cremonese varnish is all about using a diversity of phytochemicals along with photochemistry. I have less interest than ever in traditional oil varnishing and spirit varnishing because there is a third way. Do you think my claims or suggestions here are unfounded or are too audacious, speculative, or sweeping? I'd be most happy for your thoughts or corrections.
  7. Hi all, I went back and revised my post #15 to make for an easier read. As for how to extract chlorophyll, Jezzupe, I really don't think using alcohol or even acetone is best. I can readily extract chlorophyll by soaking spinach in turpentine. It's just my own preference, but I avoid alcohol in my finishing. (I'd rather use non-polar, hydrophobic petroleum-based solvents.) Of course there is the alcohol-based shellac and even the French polish that came after the Cremonese. More generally, there are just so many roads nowadays to the Mecca or Rome of Beautification . . . After the wood is beautified or embellished, I work for protection. I don't think very much of Rubio's scheme. If a scheme for ground or protection seems too complicated or contrived, why it can't be right, imo!
  8. revision of 10/29/14: I knew Frank. Setting aside protection for the moment, for years I've been thinking about embellishment or beautification. In my quest for the "holy grail" I have tried so many things, only to set them aside. It was a pleasant surprise to read about Frank's reputation at MN: http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/326390-french-polish/#entry548648 I've been wondering what kinds of finishing innovation might today's field of violin making be open to receiving? See Joseph Curtin's question, “Is innovation possible?” at: http://josephcurtinstudios.com/article/innovation-in-violinmaking/ Occasional doubt has been cast on whether inexperienced makers like me, or rank outsiders to making such as George Frank, could ever have anything of value to contribute to the widely understood, generally acceptable, and firmly rooted traditions of violin making. Of course I believe the answer is a definite “yes." Now view the cover of “Classic Wood Finishing.” The photo includes a tiny green beaker that is tucked away in the background. Why is this present at all? See: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Wood-Finishing-George-Frank/dp/0806970634/ What of craft significance was Frank trying to convey to us that is right beneath our very noses? The mystery increases..... Is the green liquid some plant dye or perhaps a solution of copper nitrate? But Frank knew from his long finishing experience at the Louvre that mineral acids or salts damage wood. And there could be an infinity of plant dyes to consider. Okay - I would suggest a new approach is called for. What if George Frank is showing us an alcohol solution of chlorophyll? The implications of this giveaway would be staggering for finishing everywhere, wouldn't you agree? As followup on this train of thought, you might click on Amazon's “new point of view” customer book review for "Classic Wood Finishing." It's entitled “Nature's Beautification of Wood." NewPOV
  9. There are literally hundreds of terpenes working in cannabis. Limonene makes the high stronger, clearer, speedier, more up, pscyhedelic, and come in rushes. Why do I come back to powder of lemon peel for finishing? otter
  10. All roads lead to Rome! Follow your own taste, and don't ape the Strads! I held a Carlo Bergonzi in my arms all afternoon one day until sunset. I had been smitten. That hooked me on finishing! Why do you imagine I persist so? one otter, happy and curious
  11. Back in the day I held only one Bergonzi but that was enough to hook me on finishing.
  12. Protein as the first coating doesn't appeal to me at all. After using a thinned resinous first coating, and then burnishing, a second coating approach could be: Add a bit of alum and ammonium chloride to a very weak sugar and gum solution. Pass the wood back and forth near a fire. Wash and dry thoroughly, then start varnishing. I expect the aluminum and chloride ions together present in the system will mordant the wood sufficiently to prevent adhesion problems. PM me if this works out for you?
  13. Since my posts are being moderated for an indefinite period of time, I may not be able to respond to you via Pegbox postings as quickly as you would prefer. However, you can always PM me or email me at Brian.McLinden@gmail.com First, to introduce myself in detail: I studied making but did not graduate from the Warren School. Four violins told me that I would never cut it as a maker. Nonetheless, the mysteries of finishing caught my technical fascination. I obtained a BS in physics from Hobart, then a BS in engineering mechanics from Columbia. Next I was as an informal student with George Frank, a fine finisher of very considerable reknown, during his retirement years in Florida. See his books. He encouraged me to explore even the wackiest of ideas, like alkaloids and phenolics. After self-teaching in thin films materials engineering, I bought more and more into wood mineralization and became more and more questioning of what I was reading elsewhere about wood finishing in relation to violin grounds. I read an English draft of Sacconi and then Ralph Iler's work on silica, silicic acid, and silicates. An interest in early wood preservation led me to plant substances. I've been considering what materials might be synthesized from them through catalysis during the procedure of ground formation. I'm mostly a theory guy. On the other hand, you are practitioners, and to you theory is perhaps a massive bore. Are we always to be like oil and water? Most of you are running tests all the time, indeed every time another piece of wood comes to your bench (Strad did this), while only occasionally do I run a critical experiment. If intuition tells you that whatever I offer could benefit you in that pocket of yours, why not run your own tests? Any posted word or picture from me will never satisfy you, not any of you, not ever. Only your own first-hand bench experience will truly persuade you. I'm into sharing. Angel has indicated this. We love to argue. Fellows, as a finisher with a theoretical bent I enjoy collaborations with makers. I would not like to be thought of as uncaring or as a control freak. Why not take what little of my stuff you like, then adapt that to what works for you in your own circumstances? Second, concerning the formation of highly elastic ground systems: Unlike most of his readers, I have taken most seriously Sacconi's oh so casual mention of the "glassworks." Pursuing that line of thinking has resulted in the highly penetrating "wax polish" that I offered to you recently. It is not only resinous but silicon-based. It may be timely to recall that in the medieval glassworks, diverse recipes of very thin films were alternated and fired in order to build up, step by step, stained glasses with their surpassingly beautiful shimmering optics. Also recall that in nature, thin films are alternated to give beautiful optics. For example, irridescence in the shell of the mature beetle. Could makers today benefit from exploiting these facts? To obtain beautiful optics in the ground system, I therefore suggest alternating resinous/silicon films and sugar films with properly applied flame polishing. Here are some things that motivated this proposal: From my notes - “I combined some sugar and some aluminum chloride solution from the drugstore in a glass of hot dilute waterglass, only to discover a spectacular rainbow of colors when looking through the tilted glass to the afternoon sun.” Also, http://books.google.com/books?id=wIuuAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA195&lpg=PA195&dq=%22aluminum+chloride%22+terpenes&source=bl&ots=aAr2l4vJak&sig=0XGd-RFUUJhD5iwD3eEwCSc9Iso&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xg82VJWLGYaYyATpjIJg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22aluminum%20chloride%22%20terpenes&f=false Also, http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1954-vol-67/193-194%20%28SCHULZ%29.pdf Multiple thin films with alternation will produce novel optical effects. That is why I disagree with Bruce Tai when he says, "It is almost inconceivable that wood finishes would possess ordered structures that generate interference colors." See his "Dichroic effects?" section on page 11-12 of https://45728c79-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/taiviolinproject/JVSA_Tai_published_part2.pdf?attachauth=ANoY7cpVrVlPo8DvR_IlQB0AsimvJYDfRqT815RRNPrMsawwqmLzxCVwl9fOu6GzK5LHhy3UHtKNb_p_G-3FZZwBaA3drg7tO-zKhYif2z0_iTdyPnMyJY3jCiIRPX6lyZBIPE0rreBB3UilR6vP5KtGcAweByuzlbuxm7AF_LMmFpF4HU7J6fw6Dvxq5pFFVE8EfB1k482arx21v96O6-docU3Ou4KhbfiZN9J2cOE47ncZNe0yylo%3D&attredirects=0 otter
  14. While I have come to view Angel as a very dear friend, one who because of his hard work and imagination will carry making into the future, his various family obligations have been changing and so we have missed out on talking shop for over a year. I would not today consider using anything similar to potassium nitrate for an alkaline oxidizer. The "wax polish" I advanced in another thread fulfils several plausible craft purposes and I believe it merits re-examination by the chemically informed among you: http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/331314-classical-grounds-silicon-silicic-acid-silicates/ Here it is understood that one boils the beeswax in a freshly prepared SOLUTION of potassium silicate....
  15. The use of terpenes and sugars in the same ground system is proving its value. Quoting myself, "Here is therefore my hypothesis, a prediction: My experiment of years ago suggests that turpentine and sugars, when allowed to work together as PART of a layered system employing multiple thin films and subsequent heatings of surfaces (what I call "flame polishing" of variously treated surfaces), will provide us with some unexpectedly gorgeous optics - possibly leading even to pleochroism as we continuously vary the tilt of the treated wood while viewing its movement under various lightings."
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