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About joerobson

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  • Birthday 06/18/1950

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    Trumansburg, NY

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  1. joerobson

    Materials shelf life resource

    Shelf life of most alcohol soluble materials is years. I have been told that shellac picks up moisture with time . I bought a kilo of dewaxed orange flake about 15 years ago and it is still fine. My oil varnish varies. Unopened or sealed clear varnishes should be tested for drying after 2 years. The colored varnishes after 1 year. Joe
  2. joerobson

    Mixed varnishes with shellac (spirits)

    Shipping to Brazil has never been a problem.
  3. joerobson

    Do you make your own varnish or purchase from a vendor?

    The vast majority of evidence: scientific examination, observation by seasoned experts, wear patterns, polishing characteristics, physical properties, all point to a cooked pine resin and linseed oil varnish from the Amati family and into the present. There are many ways to varnish a stringed instrument...many of them quite good.....but ... the road to Cremona during the late 17th and early to mid 18th century is narrow and rocky. However, it is certainly not the only road to follow. on we go, Joe
  4. joerobson

    Mixed varnishes with shellac (spirits)

    Yes. You can get pharmaceutical grade in most pharmacies. Joe
  5. joerobson

    Mixed varnishes with shellac (spirits)

    Adding a few drops of castor oil should improve fluidity and reduce brittleness. Joe
  6. joerobson

    Best contemporary bow makers?

    Rodney Mohr recently finished his 1000th bow.
  7. joerobson

    Do you make your own varnish or purchase from a vendor?

    Rosin cooks vary from 1 to 500 hours, depending on your beginning resin and final goal.
  8. joerobson


  9. joerobson

    Do you make your own varnish or purchase from a vendor?

    Well I probably should have the good sense...or just good avoid comment on this subject. Alas it is not so. This is an often discussed topic with no resolution in are many other topics in this trade: dirt, what is the best black, did Stradivari make his own varnish, what is a good ground, should you antique or not, etc. etc. As background material: as a professional cabinetmaker I wanted "complete" control of the I felled timber, learned to run the sawmill, built a kiln in my driveway, and grew to know the processing of my raw materials. I did not however make glue or build woodworking machines. To be glib and slightly obnoxious about this I must ask: Do you select and fell your own spruce and maple? Do you make your own fittings? As some choose not to make varnish, I choose not to make violins. It is true that varnish making is interesting and challenging....often to the point of obsession in our trade. I have been at it since June of 1982 and involved with the violin trade since 1997. As a varnish maker I can make you a furniture varnish or a marine varnish or one to varnish the inside of wooden water pipes. I have often said that if one can make a decent batch of candy, then you can make a varnish. If that varnish is suitable to the task and it pleases you then it is a good varnish. I urge you to consider the time and effort that brought you to that batch of varnish. Quality control is a major issue from raw materials to cooking methods. Can you repeat your varnish making with the same outcome? There was a long learning curve between being able to make varnish and the ability to make a good violin varnish. This also necessitated learning to varnish the instrument. It is also true that I am able to make products that are not available elsewhere. There are many commercial products for varnishing that I would not buy either. Did Stradivari make his own varnish? The growing evidence indicates no. I urge you to read my article in the September Strad Magazine: "Scarlet Fever" which condenses my research and the making of the Stradivari Cochineal Varnish. I would take issue with the notion that one is not truly a violin maker if you do not make your own varnish. Some of my best clients used to be varnish makers. It is a matter of which tasks you focus on and which you leave to the expertise of others. Continue to make varnish or buy varnish as long as the end result is that you become a better varnisher [as that is 80% of the task] and your instruments sell so you can do it again. nuf said on we go, Joe PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW MY COMMENTS TO KILL THIS DISCUSSION.
  10. joerobson

    A dream deferred...

    I don't know if I am more envious of the card catalog or your expectations to fill it!! on we go, Joe
  11. joerobson

    Violin Varnish Workshop 2019

    Thanks Chris. I'm looking forward to the one that includes you!
  12. joerobson

    Violin Varnish Workshop 2019

    Practical & Artistic Violin Varnishing for 2019 will be held in cooperation with the Chicago School of Violin Making at their facility in Skokie, IL [near Chicago]. The workshop dates are from the afternoon of April 27th through noon of May 4th. The program is conducted by Marilyn Wallin, Todd Goldenberg and myself. This workshop is a comprehensive approach to all aspects of violin varnishing from the variety of application methods to deconstructing the classic Cremonese varnish. We cover the various aspects of ground, varnish coloring, antiquing [or not...], surface preparation, and polishing...among other topics. All skill levels are acceptable and the variety of approaches leads to a very interesting atmosphere. We will have about 40 instruments in varying stages of "varnish". Chicago has a thriving violin culture and we have the chance to see some excellent antique instruments. To apply you can get the registration form on my website [] or email me [] or call 607 387 9280. If you have questions, feel free to write or call. on we go, Joe Robson Violin Varnish Workshops.doc kory's blog.doc
  13. joerobson

    Violin Making Schools

    Antoine is head of instruction.
  14. joerobson

    Oil varnish sweating

    John, Out gassing can cause such issues....based on poor quality turpentine. Have you tried this stuff? Essential oils can also do this to a poorly made varnish. That's why I do not recommend Oil of Spike or Lavender any more. on we go, Joe
  15. joerobson

    Oil varnish sweating

    Several possibilities. The most likely is that the varnish is not properly cooked so that the Linseed oil is not fully bonded with the resin. Second is an issue with the amount of oil in the pigment you are using. Try this: take a papertowel and squeeze out a ribbon of the pigment on to the towel. Let this sit for 24 hours in a warm place. Excess oil will leech out on to the towel. Joe