Peter White

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About Peter White

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  • Birthday 08/28/1947

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    New Mexico
  • Interests
    I am the Director of the New Mexico Musical Heritage Project at the University of New Mexico.
    Sponsored the VSA Convention in 1991 in Albuquerque
    Medal in Cremona for Antiqued violin 2010

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  1. Hello: I am sure this topic has been beat to death, but I’m not sure how to access older threads. i have a question: I have many friends in Eastern Europe who use alcohol based varnish— various recipes. Some spray, some brush. I have only ever used oil varnish which I have cooked. In various ways since 1978. I would like to know what violin dealers in the best or very good violin shops in the Western world think when they are presented with an alcohol based instrument, hand made by the maker? Are dealers put off by alcohol finishes or are they open to it? I am talking about shops that we all know are exclusive, owned and operated by people who have a long history of dealing in Violins. I know many shops are primarily interested in old Italian or French Violins. But I wonder what such dealers think about representing alcohol based varnishes? I spent my life as an academic so I’m just asking to see what others think about this question. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. I’m a teacher so I like to know things. Peter White
  2. I think there is a great photo of this violin in Stradivari’s Varnish. This is the book that scientifically analyses Stead’s varnish. I don’t have the book any more but I think the violin was made on the large pattern (g?) but I noticed it had ver very dark flame. I tried in vain to copy it. Peter white see below. My version. I’m just trying, I don’t sayits good but I did make the pattern and attempt the color.
  3. Dear Edi, Juzzepi, and David Thank you all for the suggestions. Since six men and one woman work in this shop doing set ups, but not making, I have plenty of help and skill to build a good bench like the one Edi suggested. We will want to build a bigger bench because at some point we may make cellos, or after I retire other makers might want a really substantial bench. I’m not too sure about mounting a vise to the bench but I think we can figure that out. When I bought ten benches for my program at the University of New Mexico, one was really heavy duty and had two great, deep vises. All I can remember is they cane from some supplier in New York. They were very inexpensive and solid . Before we build a bench I am waiting for Klarissa, my successor, to see if she can identify the make. I know Brian and David. David is a weight lifter I think and so he needs a bench mounted to concrete. You guys are great with the help and good humor. If you want to sell any of your violins write to me at My boss is looking to expand his stock to include individually made high quality American or European violins. I’ll put you in touch with him if you write to me thanks pete
  4. Thank you for your recommendation. I like these benches peter
  5. Hi Nathan. I moved to Florida to enjoy the weather and spent three years in St. Petersburg Florida then moved to Fort Lauderdale where I was offered a job teaching violin making at a big retail violin shop.  I still have my home in Albuquerque. 

  6. Peter White


    Dear makers. I currently live in Florida and a violin shop has asked me to teach its staff of set up people how to make a violin. They need to buy a workbench which has a vice deep enough to hold my two violin plates as I plane them for joining. And this bench should have dogs. About ten years ago I bought great benches from a place in New York and assembled them for my classes at the university of New Mexico. I only need one sold bench That you would recommend. Nothing fancy or expensive, maybe five or six or even eight feet long most important is the deep vice and dogs in a stable bench. Thank you for for your suggestions. Peter
  7. Mike d. This is a very fine cello with beautiful Fulton varnish. Thank you for showing me this. I very much appreciate your help and I will aim to clear up what I am not doing properly. Thank you. I don't think I will have time to varnish another violin before I leave for Florida but when I get back I will send you a photo of the results of my cooking and varnishing process. Thanks again. Beautiful Color. Peter
  8. Hi mike D. I have a question which may seem stupid but have you determined that the varnish is red brown by looking at it in the bottle you store it in after cooking. ? All Fulton varnish looks brown in the bottle Anyway Fulton wrote to me he stopped using iron acetates he originally said to make iron oxide by placing steel wool in vinegar. I have bottles of that from 1978. Fulton also said he stopped using chlorides. In the book I have by Fulton he describes how to make straw colored vanish amber varnish and dark brown . It basically temperature driven. I agree that Diamong G would be a good test I just have to make sure it is fresh gum turpentine and not old turps which will not have the hydroperoxides . I wonder if you could brush a few coats of your red brown varnish on maple for me to see. We may be disagreeing about the definition of brown. If you look above you see the red brown varnish I used on my sons violin in 1994 Thanks for the speculations. Very interesting. Peter
  9. Joe. Spirit varnish usually goes over something similar to it but it chips. In my opinion which is not worth much varnish without oil or too little oil chips and is brittle. It usually makes violins sound good right away because of the stiffening of the plates, but in time oil varnish produces both beauty and sound. Sometimes great sound if the application is proper. I do agree that the ground and the varnish must adhere and of course this is important. That's why I am asking folks here about ground coats. You are right. My opinion has to do with seeing so many lean varnishes chipping away very quickly after purchase Peter
  10. Mike D. Thanks. I think we are doing the same things. I put my pure gum spirits in a glass jug. I am going to cook it very hot in a cast iron pot and hope to hell the resin comes out red brown like it used to. I am going to add the iron oxide made with steel wool and water. I am not going to cook it so long that it carbonizes. That's a pain to strain and use etc. since we appear to do the same thing, I don't understand why I have not gotten dark varnish? If the darkening comes from cooking the aerated turps, then it does not matter how hot I cook the resin oil mixture as long as it pulls a thread. Mine does. But since I stopped using the iron pot it' s always gold. I will just keep experimenting to try to get back to what I did from 1978 to around 1988 when I started a violin shop and stopped using the iron pot. It is a total mystery to me about how you get red brown resin and mine appears to be dark but it does not produce dark varnish. I hope to find out in the next few months what I am doing to cause this gold/Amber result. Thanks for taking the time to explain your methods. Peter.
  11. Mike and Melvin: i am really confused because I have made maybe 40 batches of Fulton varnish and onl,y got it dark when I used iron oxide during the cooking of the aerated turpentine or perhaps because I used the iron pot. As I said I don't remember what I did exactly to get the dark brown varnish. So Mike, I have a lot of experience with this varnish. But where I see a remarkable difference is that in the post above you call the thickened turpentine. "Sun thickened". I push air through the pure gum spirits of turpentine to make it thick -- it takes about a month. I cook that. I let it cool and later, when I have time, I cook it with linseed oil which I am assuming is the same as flax seed oil. I use Fulton's original proportions: 2 parts resin by weight to three parts linseed oil (using millilitres as the same as grams.) This is the same ratio as Mike uses. Mike do you pump air through the turps or just let sun thicken it? If it takes a long time to sun thicken, then the hydro peroxide have dissipated and the exothermic reaction will not happen and only gold varnish will be produced? No? As far as heating it to high temperatures with the resin and the oil in the pot, I don't know. Fulton said don't go above 280c. Melvin seems to agree but Mike, you say it does not jell and works fine for brushing etc? So aerate or sun thicken? And how hot? Must be something missing here? My friends have not been able to get dark brown colophony varnish-- as far as I know. I don't like glazing with colours-- does not look natural to me. Michael Molnar : I posted some of my work in photos here I asked for comments about the varnish. Can I just finish this here without driving you crazy. ?
  12. Mike D I see you are a materials scientist. Can you tell me a bit more about taking the Fulton varnish to 310 c when the oil is in the mixture and it does not jell? How long do you leave it at that temperature? Would hate to ruin a batch but this may be the difference between your red -brown varnish and my weak brown amber varnish ? Otherwise I have no explanation of how you get the colour since I have tried many times in steel and aluminium and enamel pots with no effect and have cooked the resin to 350c. Thanks for any advice Pete Peter
  13. Thanks Don. I suppose the pumice soaks up the oil in the varnish so that the oil does not soak into the top? I looked under the light and in naturaj light at the aerated turpentine I used as a sealer. It's a gorgeous jewel like undercoat but it does try to get through the other costs on top and that's not good. Too bad. Wonder if I could dry it somehow so that it would not seep through in little dots?
  14. . Joe. Interesting comment about Echard's research. I did not realise it was written before Greiner et al. I have studied the Stradivari varnish book pretty thoroughly and I find that it is interesting research but not a very practical help. I also don't understand what the authors mean by coats versus applications. And the stain? What was that? We have only the list of three chemicals found in the stain layer Thanks. By the way, I don't really care so much what Strad did as finding a way to make beautiful violins with simple erin and oil varnish. That really is my goal. Thanks for all you research and help
  15. Joe. By the way the red violin Messiah copy is very beautiful super work Peter.