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  1. Hello all, I've done some reading about oil varnishes and oil paint colors, but still have a few questions. 1. Making my own oil varnish is out of the question, so what brands or where could I purchase a reliable oil varnish? 2. I'm really intrigued by the oldwood varnishing system, especially their varnish and glazing process/materials. What are your thoughts or experiences with them? 3. After watching the varnish application process that oldwood uses (applying their thick looking varnish and oil colors by hand), are all oil varnishes applied like that? It surprised me because I
  2. Hi all! I did an experiment yesterday by putting a pH indicating dye on a strip of maple. I let that dry, and then applied 5% sodium nitrite solution to it, and placed it in the light box. To my surprise, only after a few minutes of light exposure the dye changed from orange to a cool red, indicating the presence of a base. I had always thought that nitrite reaction produces nitric acid, so, I’m very confused as to why this test indicates as alkaline. Anyone have a possible explanation? Also, I’m wondering if this is a good approach to create a pH neutral treatment? I’m not a chemist, but I im
  3. Hello Maestronet hive mind - I need some help. I have just received a violin I bought at auction (unseen due to the the 'Rona) and it is unexpectedly good. Although rather battered the sound is terrific but...at some point in its life it looks like someone has put a sticker on the varnish and it has left a horrible residue. I have tried to remove it with a cloth and my magic spit, but no dice. The violin is 130 years old so I need to be really careful. Any ideas?
  4. I had posted earlier that I was going to try and make amber varnish using the amber colophony from Kremer. Their German homepage describes this as old material from a Russian amber-varnish manufacturer. Some here on the forum were skeptical about the nature of this resin and I wanted to follow-up and share my experience. To make a long story short: It didn’t work the way I had hoped. I tried to dissolve the colophony directly in boiled linseed oil. Nevertheless, I found that even temperatures around 250 deg C were not sufficient. Only a small amount appeared to dissolve in the oil (based
  5. Hi everyone, I am currently working on my first violin repair and just finished cleaning a pretty filthy violin! I bought it thinking it could help me learn a few repair techniques. Cleaning it has revealed many spots that require some varnish touch-ups (once I repair the sides). I was wondering what pre-made varnishes you would recommend, or some varnish touch-up kits. Could different shades of "Joha oil varnish" do the job? I've read on many threads that spirit varnish is usually more preferred for touch-ups though. Also, I don't really need huge quantities of varnish. (https://www.int
  6. I am looking for a spirit varnish recipe that does not contain shellac. I am a guitar maker. I usually French polish with a shellac based varnish that also contains other resins. For this instrument, however, I can’t use shellac due to the believes of my client (please don’t make this the focus of the conversation). I tried modifying a sandarac based recipe, but the varnish was easily scraped off. I also tried sandarac turpentine and elemi (in alcohol), with the same results.
  7. Hello all! Starting to get into lake pigments! So, to jump right in: when you’re making a lake pigment, what part of the process does pH have an impact on color? I’ve heard of people using acidic, neutral, and alkaline extractions for the dyestuff, but I’m curious as to how/if the ph of the extraction plays into the final pigment color. My thoughts are that it is really the pH of the final suspension that makes the biggest impact, but I just don’t know. Could you take dry, finished pigment and expose it to a medium of different pH to change the color? Will it keep this color upon drying o
  8. Has anyone here ever had experience using an Ammonium Rosinate in oil varnish? I just made up a very small amount, and it seems to have some nice properties! I just want to consult the masses before I make a big mistake in using it for something. Here are some (bad) photos of a thin layer rubbed into fresh, bare rib wood, unsealed. It's a much more lively, rich color in person. Transparency and depth is also not well shown here. I prepared a 70/30 solution of grain alcohol and laboratory grade ammonia (30% Concentration), and to that, I added enough crushed rosin to make a thin spiri
  9. Hello! Three months ago, I bought a violin from a contemporary violin maker in New York. Combine South Texas heat with daily five hour practice sessions and you get sweaty palms! Somehow, in that short time frame, that led to the varnish on the shoulder of my violin break down rather quickly. How can I prevent further damage and will I be able to repair it myself? I would rather not take the violin to the luthier at this time because the pandemic in Texas is quite bad right now...
  10. Looking at this violin, the finish on the top looks awful while the finish on the back looks good. Is there a wood reaction to a varnish? Does spruce react/weather differently than maple? Or was this due to exposure (the front was exposed to the elements while the back was not)? Just curious! https://www.bromptons.co/auction/22nd-june-2020/lots/143-an-italian-viola-first-half-of-the-nineteenth-century.html
  11. Hallo everybody So i've been working on making my own oil varnish and pigments for a while now, and it seems that for every variable that i try at least 2 more open up. While looking for answers to different questions i came across several threads here that had a lot of useful information, but i couldn't find a lot about the actual method of grinding self made pigments into oil varnish, or how to layer them. Is somebody here familiar with these techniques and feeling like talking about them? I could really use some tips / tricks / things to avoid / things to look for from experienc
  12. I have a question on how to deal with a viola with too much varnish on the neck. The neck is too sticky for proper shifting. With my violins, the neck feels as though I am touching wood, but on the viola the varnish is shiny and feels like touching plastic. I'm not sure if the viola has spirit varnish or oil - I suspect it is spirit varnish. It is not an expensive instrument - Chinese made in 2001 at about 1000 EUR at the time. Can I simply wipe the excess varnish off using alcohol? Any advice?
  13. Hi all, I have an old violin (1800s), probably Hungarian, of unknown maker (no label). Sometimes, after a long playing session or when the weather is hot, I sweat, which comes into contact with the rib of the violin, right under the chinrest. The varnish in this area I can tell has suffered over time, as it is muddled and pitted. The problem is when I sweat the varnish turns a cloudy white. The first time this happened it mostly went away by itself after a hour or so. The second time it happened it persisted for days, till I took a hairdryer to it (heating the old varnish cleared the clou
  14. I am continuing my varnish experiments and attached is a picture of my latest attempt using rosin and cooking it for an extended amount of time (many thanks to all the people who shared their experience here on the forum). My previous experience was with amber varnish only and I am quite happy with the color I got now with rosin. I will continue to work on color/cooking time next spring - it is getting a bit cold for me out there. In this sample varnish was applied to UV exposed maple that was treated with sodium nitrite and exposed again to UV overnight. No ground was used in this sample.
  15. Hello! I am in the stages of repairing a violin for the first time, purchased cheaply at an auction simply for the joy of learning. The violin is about 100 years old and was caked with dirt, I have lifted off the worst with cotton sticks and saliva. I will attach a photo of the current state of varnish, pictures taken with flash to better show the contrasts. The varnish is mostly matte, and chipped off or scuffed in many places, and dirty in others. I have come to understand that spirit varnish is mainly used in repairs, but I have not been able to tell yet if the original is oil- o
  16. I have long suspected (as well has other makers) that the cooked rosin is fugitive. Below is a photo of two samples of cooked rosin varnish. The control sample is labeled "AIR" because it was left in the air outside my UV drying cabinet. The test sample is labeled "UV" because it was placed for 12 hours in the UV cabinet. It is obvious that the varnish is fugitive. The test sample received less UV intensity than my violin gets because the sample was on the door ledge out of direct illumination from the UV lamps. I believe that perhaps the only way to use cooked rosin is to reduce UV drying an
  17. Hi, I have applied a varnish according to Michelman, and it remains rather sticky on the surface, even though I use siccative. It takes long time to become non-sticky, and after it has hardened, it remains sticky beneath, that is, using sandpaper high grit to polish does not "glide" on the surface as dry, but remains stuck in friction. I am afraid this may worsen the acoustics, and am irradiating the violin heavily with strong UV lamp. Any ideas what I should do? Thanks
  18. Hi everyone, I’m an amateur violinist and maker. I am currently trying to pick both playing and making up where I left it almost 12 years ago. Getting all the tools out again and starting on a new instrument is a lot of fun but still as difficult as it was back then. However, having YouTube and forums like this one is sure a great help for an amateur. Many thanks to all that post here. While I continue to work on the instrument, I would like to start the first varnish experiments. Varnishing was a major problem on my first two instruments, and I would like to be better prepared this
  19. This cello has been with my go-to luthier that handles projects beyond my skills, which is more often than I care to admit. He has tried several ways to dissolve the black in the crack, but with no luck. What are some options aside from picking it out?
  20. I live in a country where we don't have any good luthier. Moreover, it's a hard deal to find a good violin, there's no music shop with normal violin (only cheap fake ones).. So I don't have any option except doing it myself. I will do it this way or another, but dunno the steps. Please don't judge me badly hahahah))) 1. As you see there are minor cracks. What material should I use to cover those cracks? Is it necessary to cover them? (pics of inside & outside below) https://imageshack.us/i/po9jreixj https://imageshack.us/i/plY0MBn1j https://imageshack.us/i/plH2Zi2Gj 2. Most of th
  21. The cello is a nice Caressa and Francais. The player is extremely meticulous about the varnish surface. When the varnish becomes dull at the shoulder and on the upper back he is a sort of freaking out. 2 weeks ago I tried to fix the problem with brushing on the affected area a thin layer of clear varnish and let it dry for 1 week to make sure that it hardens out sufficiently. the player is not too enthusiastic about a protecting plastic sheet on that area. i am not too enthusiastic about some commercial durable varnish (for boats), because I don't know how reversible it i
  22. I wanted to start this topic with the hopes that it would become a useful resource for those who are looking to go in a particular direction with wood and ground coloration and are unsure of a place to start. Of particular interest to me is producing a wood color that leans on tan with grey hints. Not much yellow, and very little green. But, it would be nice to see everything that’s out there. If you have examples of any process you’d like to share, even if you didn’t like the result, it would be wonderful to have here in one place.
  23. Hello varnish specialists! A violinist wants to order one of my cases, and wishes that the case be lined in a polyester velour of his liking. He has a Strad and a Vuillaume, and personally I'm worried about the reaction that the material may have with the varnish in hot weather. Can anyone provide me with personal experiences? Horror stories? Or is polyester OK? Many thanks in advance!
  24. I ran out of my top coat spirit varnish. My formulas are in a notebook that must be in storage. Hazards of a tiny workshop. I know it had benzoin, mastic, lac blah blah, just don't remember. Got a good formula that will bond well to oil and go on nicely? Thanks much.
  25. Michelman pp 31-43 argues for a historical basis to rosinates extending back to Cremonese times. I think his arguments are weak. I have also looked for modern analyses that could resolve this issue and found none. Maybe I overlooked someone's research. Does anyone have a better argument for rosinates used by Cremonese makers of Stradivari's time?