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fiddlefaddle

glazing techniques

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Getting color on a violin is , at this point my most difficult endeavor.

Right now, I settle for a nice light honey brown, but I would like to expand my repertoire.

Glazing gives me streaks of red, that I wipe off with nothing to show, adding color to varnish generally gives me little intensity, and shading seems out of the question . I am aware of Mr. Dartons suggestion to use tar, but I havn't yet got the quality of material I would like. Some , hopefully is on the way. I guess my question is , how does one avoid streaking with a glaze? and second do you mix gambouge/ madder with your varnish?

Thanks all..

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If your wiping all the glaze off you won`t have anything to show!!!LOL

Try using a brush called a blender that artists use its extremly soft ,mines made in Italy from Badger hair about 2" wide but you can get them in most sizes.You use it dry and it sort of blends all the uneveness away without removing all the varnish/paint.You sort of keep cleaning it with a dry rag as you go.

I first used it on oil painting its great to do those fantastic folds and creases you see in cloth on old master paintings.

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I wish I had something to offer, I was kinda hoping you'd get some good conversation for me to follow.

I was going to glaze, but I ran into a couple problems. For one, when I wiped some of my homemade madder lake onto some clear-varnished ribstock to experiment with it, and then wiped it off with my hand as Rubio's site shows, it all came off. I think the powdered pigment in your glaze has got to be extremely fine so that particles of it catch in the nooks and crannies of what your glazing over. In my case my madder lake was coarse enough particles that they didn't have any chance to fall into some microscopic depression and get missed by the hand. And secondly, several people have said they don't really like the glazed look, and I decided that was important to me.

I've been doing experiments now with color added to some varnish. I have a lot more experimentation to do before I'll feel comfortable, but I did get at one point to a really nice, pleasant orange color that I don't feel was too thick (I could be wrong) in about four coats. If I had some roofing tar to add to it it could have been darker and dare I say browner, which wouldn't have hurt.

I've experimented with adding a smidgen of Winsor and Newton lamp black oil paint too (pure carbon and linseed oil), but OMG the smallest smidgen can instantly darken the varnish way more than you really want. It's potent stuff. The lamp black has way, way more effect on the varnish for the amount added then the Indian Yellow did, which itself had for more effect on the color than my madder lake did.

You say you have some roofing tar coming to you. Might I ask where you got it? I've looked around at Home Depot and all I could find was some liquid roofing tar that it turns out doesn't work well at all (I tried it), it apparently has some additives (silicone?) that make it incompatible with my oil/mastic varnish. I'd love to hear where you can get a small lump of bitumen.

I am thinking definitely that the combination of madder lake, indian yellow, and bitumen will yield the color I want. I want to experiment more with using an even thinner varnish so that in four or five colored coats and two uncolored or so it's still vanishingly thin.

As for tinting, have you tried rubbing it with some abrasive between colored coats, rubbing more where you want it lighter and less where you want it darker? I'm thinking you could thin out the colored coats a lot where you want it lighter and remove enough of the color to achieve a good shading.

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On the other hand Seth, I've seen some spectacular results using the glazing technique. Several of the VMAAI makers became expert at glazing and their work was equal to just about anything else I've seen.

I used to use the technique back when I was using oil varnish, and some of those violins were really nice.

One thing with glazing is that unless you want to really accentuate surface discrepancies and textures, you have to build a really smooth oil varnish base, and the best way to do that is to have a smooth wood surface to begin with, then a fairly thick coat of oil varnish, and then smooth/rub out any irregularities in the varnish surface until it has a dull satin sheen - then lay on the glaze, let it tack almost dry - then varnish over that - once and with no reworking, and then rub through can be an immediate problem if you rub through the glaze layer when rubbing that out... I don't think it's the best method for anyone seeking to have a really thin varnish layer.

Still, the colors are truly amazing - you can experiment with different artists oil colors and achieve coloration that is hard to duplicate any other way. The only thing you have to watch out for is the way the pigments will start to obscure the grain and flame if you over do it.

It is a workable method, but takes some practice to acquire skill at. Don't expect results that duplicate the old Italian varnishes that you hear so much about, because one of its strengths is definately not clarity or transparency - then again I just may not have discovered the correct oil based pigments to use. I stayed with commercially available oil colors.

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I don't discount that some people are getting great results with glazing, I guess for my project I just decided to color the varnish instead.

Craig, you say you used to use oil varnish. The implication I'm seeing in that is that you now use spirit varnish. What changed your mind?

Btw, I thought I'd add that one of the reasons I decided to use an oil varnish was a distinct impression that some authors of materials I read believed that oil varnish was what the oil Cremona masters of the time preceding and up to and possibly a bit after Stradivari used, and that the varnish recipes were lost not because they were so secret, but because subsequent luthiers switched over to methods deemed at the time to be simpler or more cost effective for the maker or whatever. The authors of things I read considered this transition to spirit varnishes and loss of the oil varnish and its system of application to have been a mistake. So I'm basing my decision not on actual experience, rather more on a bias imbued in me by the writings of others. Since you seem to have made the opposite decision, I'm interested in hearing why, since you are going from actual experience.

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Seth, you can use roofing felt ,the stuff you put on top of timber sheds and outbuildings ,which is on a roll and covered with slate flakes.Just brake a little off and dissolve it in turpentine.The slate pieces can just be filtered off. leaving the bitumen in turps,which you can add carefully to your red to darken the tone.

Burnt umber oil paint is better to darken varnish than a black like lampblack.

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Seth, as fate would have it, our office is getting a new roof this fall.

I am promised a chunk by the Company rep, I'll be sure to get a supply for you and any other Mnetter, that wants some.

Michael, How did LSD come??

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"Michael -

What effect do you think adding LSD to the varnish would have? Multi colored paisley swirls?"

I think I can answer this. If you require a varnish that speaks perfect English, and can slow down time to a standstill, this is the varnish ingredient for you!

Other advantages include a plethora of hitherto unknown colors, unbelieveable depth and clarity, and maybe even a visit from God himself.

Be very careful, a little goes a long, long way...

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I just had an epiphany! Nagyvary must have discovered that LSD was in fact the secret ingredient ages ago. That would explain the delusions...

On the other hand, FiddleFaddle, thanks! I'm going to try to find an Ace hardware around here (if Home Depot hasn't killed them all off). I recall seeing True Value hardware stuff before, I'll go hunting in my car and see what I can find. FiddleCollector, thanks for the idea about soaking some of that roofing stuff with all the slate chips on it in turpentine and filtering out all the debris. If the Ace pure asphalt hunt comes up dry that's what I'm going to try next, and I'm gonna say the fallback in case these don't succeed is to bug FiddleFaddle after his roofing is complete.

In the meantime I'll pick up a tube of W&N burnt umber and play around with it.

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I will preface this suggestion with the following disclaimer, "I have no idea what I am talking about".

But since we are stretching the envelope so far as to include mind altering psychodelics I will add the following. Offset printing inks are available in both petroleum or soy bases, are transparent, and can be purchased in over 3000 colors,in addition to at least 20 mixing colors including transparent and opaque white. Ink dealers can provide a mixing guide to acheive virtually any color in any shade. I would believe that the soy based inks should mix well with any clear oil varnish base. Ink dealers also have drying additives that can speed up or slow down the drying process. Would it work? I don't know but I would be happy to send a little ink to anyne who is interested in trying it. Printing inks are not expensive compared to other colorants-about $5-$6 per pound. They are also available in metallics and florescent colors for those who want to add a little extra.

Jesse

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Offset inks are more lightfast than web inks and there are formulations that are called "lightfast" used epecially for retail store signage. There is a type of ink base that is used as a sealer/protectant that is called offset press varnish and it does reduce fading dramatically. Violins are not exposed to as much direct sunlight as signage. Some colors are more sensitive to fade, yellows and reds in particular-do you like blue violins?

Jesse

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"Craig, you say you used to use oil varnish. The implication I'm seeing in that is that you now use spirit varnish. What changed your mind?

Btw, I thought I'd add that one of the reasons I decided to use an oil varnish was a distinct impression that some authors of materials I read believed that oil varnish was what the oil Cremona masters of the time preceding and up to and possibly a bit after Stradivari used, and that the varnish recipes were lost not because they were so secret, but because subsequent luthiers switched over to methods deemed at the time to be simpler or more cost effective for the maker or whatever. The authors of things I read considered this transition to spirit varnishes and loss of the oil varnish and its system of application to have been a mistake. So I'm basing my decision not on actual experience, rather more on a bias imbued in me by the writings of others. Since you seem to have made the opposite decision, I'm interested in hearing why, since you are going from actual experience."

Good questions. I changed mostly to see for myself what the differences were. Like you, I had started with oil because the Italians from the "Golden Period" used oil. I'm not really sold on either oil or spirit as far as one being "better" than the other.

So far, I havent really noticed a great difference tone wise or looks wise. My next step in experimenting with varnish is to try the, what has become known locally as, "Darnton varnish" (:-)) so, I guess it will be back to oil varnish for a while while I check this stuff out.

I have enough trouble getting my strictly building chops honed, what with attempting to make a decent living at the same time and all, to worry overly much about varnish. <g>

I'll let others experiment with the varnish and take their advice about what works best - for now at least.

I will say that you'd probably be surprised at how well an evil spirit varnish does work - just keep it THIN with either one you use.

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I find the medium for glazing is fairly important. I mix various colored lakes and transparent oxides in linseed oil and either varnish or one of the proprietary glazing mediums sold for oil paint. To the consistency of latex house paint. Paint on ribs, pull most of it off with a paper towel, smear to just about even with thumb, remove along the edge of the ribs with a fine stiff brush, stipple, smear with thumb in circles, stipple, and so on until even or shaded like I want. Use fingertips on top to spread out, then remove most via paper towel wiping, then even or shade with side of hand. Add more medium as the mix dries out. Do back. Then remove excess from the edges with fingers. Brush on scroll, paper towel and fine brush to remove, smear even with fingertips. Scroll is difficult, actually have to leave a thin even layer when removing excess if one doesn't want a buildup in the corners. Glaze, 2 varnish layers, rub with 400 grit lightly, glaze again if required. The most glaze layers I've used is three. Each glaze layer takes about 30 minutes, sort of tedious. But I did all the color on 7 fiddles in 2 days a week ago. The glaze is about a 6 hour dry, the varnish takes 4 hours. I suppose it is difficult, but it is so fast to get good depth of color and doesn't obscure the grain too much with the better lakes.

As far as color, I have several madder browns, transparent yellow and transparent red oxide lakes, green lake (makes the reddish browns go golden or deep brown), purple lake, and then brown and red dense pigments if I wish to shade.

I find I have to mix a fresh batch for every violin. The fast-dry mediums won't keep well enough to glaze two violins in a row.

One does need a sensitive touch, I suppose, and be willing to wipe down a fiddle or two while learning.

I consider glazing a great production technique because it is so fast and powerful. Ground, then shellac (3 coats), varnish (2 coats), rub out, glaze 1, varnish (2 coats), glaze 2, varnish (4 coats), rub, varnish (2 coats), 400/600/pumice/rottenstone/Mcquire's No. 2. Ready to go.

The cold-dissolved mastic-turnpentine-linseed oil varnish discussed here and elsewhere seems to work wonderfully with glazing.

Steve

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I had never given tar a thought until first reading about Mr. Darnton's use of it, but have pondered it quite a bit since then. I have experimented with various oil colors to add a little tone to varnish. There is one labeled "VAN DUCK BROWN (CASSEL) EXTRA" on an Old Holland Classic Oil Colors tube that looks promising. It's actually closer to black than brown and is made from burnt animal bones. I haven't tried yet. Has anyone else?

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Van Dyke brown is used a great deal, so is burnt umber. They are both opaque, so aren't to be used in great quantities. Transparent lakes seem most adaptable. We have a color stick with all our pigments and dyes in bands on it so we can see what we have available.

Steve

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