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Sealer - an old question re asked.


Alex_E

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Sorry, I used the wrong word "seal". "Stain" is a better word. The luthier may use some kind material to stain it to look old. I understand wood needs breathing. I don't think any luthier would ever sealing both sides. Strangely, it also has a "fragrant". It may be from the wood he used.

what kind ? It is very common in China. We have hand fans which are very common .(people use them to cool themselves in hot Summer days.Some of these fans are made of

"fragrant wood" for ladies while they fan themself and the

air filled fragrant, a flowery sweet smell from the wood of which the hand fan are made). It is that kind of smell. I don't know you understand what I am referring to. I wish someone can explain this better. Thank you, Mr. Darnton.

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No, this maker is a serious and no nonsense maker.

"Stain" was my speculation. Why? The violin was

made in 2002 but the wood looks like 100 years old.

All violin making in China started fresh after the

culture revolution. So I don't believe the was that old.

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Dear Wolfjk,

I made the distinction because of the use of the word "lye." Are you a Brit? Perhaps the word is used differently in our two countries. It is a dangerous word.

In the USA, "lye" does not refer to the carbonate form. It refers exclusively to sodium or potassium hydroxide. Ammonia water is ammonium hydroxide. It would work well and not leave a residue. It is considerably weaker than the other two.

I believe that sodium carbonate is also called washing soda here.

If you want a super-cheap source of sodium carbonate, take sodium bicarbonate and heat it dry in a pan. You will see the particles jump around a bit and Carbon Dioxide is given off. It is obvious when the reaction stops. The Carbonate form is more stable than the bi-carbonate. You can taste a tiny bit and note that it is much more bitter than before heating.

Ammonia certainly was around in Strad's time. One can distill anything that has a good bit of ammonia, such as horse urine.

Also, lye (the hydroxide) will dissolve rosin to make the Michelman varnishes. The rosin soaps of sodium and potassium are water soluable. They are precipitated out of water solution with aluminum, zinc, calcium and other metal salts. Fulton uses it to disolve propolis in his filler formula which he has published somewhere on the net.

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Hi Jmasters,

Thank you for your post.

-------In the USA, "lye" does not refer to the carbonate form. It refers exclusively to sodium or potassium hydroxide.------

I gathered from the posts that “lye” has a different meaning in the USA. I was referring to the lye made from boiling wood ash, leaving it to settle and cool, using the liquid that collects on top of the ash. While it is fairly strong stuff, it is nothing like the potassium hydroxide, or sodium hydroxide made to a chemical formula.

According to a book on old varnishes and colours, lye was often used for fixing colours, and dissolving resins.

--------Also, lye (the hydroxide) will dissolve rosin to make the Michelman varnishes. The rosin soaps of sodium and potassium are water soluable. They are precipitated out of water solution with aluminum, zinc, calcium and other metal salts. Fulton uses it to disolve propolis in his filler formula which he has published somewhere on the net.------

I had actually watched this process demonstrated by Frank Ravatin, a French violinmaker at last years Dartington Violin Conference.

Three years ago Dr Clare Barlow a Cambridge researcher gave a talk on possible grounds for classical varnishes and shown her analysis of the materials she found.

My interpretation of her many slides and magnified images was that traces of wood ash (small particles of soot, specks of soil, and volcanic ash) could have come from lye, either used for cleaning the wood or for preparing the ground. However, Dr Barlow was trying to prove that there was a special ground layer for classical varnishes.

Cheers Wolfjk

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Michelman later recommend dissolving the rosin in the wood-ash alkali (pot. carbonate.). I think he had in mind the authenticity aspects. At least the carbonate is strong enough to work. It is a fair to middlin' strength alkali and strong enough to irritate skin. I have no idea whether it would dissolve lignin.

By the way, I have seen a very large number of sites on paper-making on the web. That is where you go to find out what is not so good for keeping wood intact under chemical treatment. Strong alkalis are involved and paper mills come in for a lot of control by environmental codes.

Clare Barlowe has been disgussed a bit on another forum, but I have not heard anything of late. I read the original article involving a filler of some contemporary "polyfilla". Nothing lately. I would be interested to know about anything further which she may have done.

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Hi Jmasters,

I had also attended a talk given by Dr Georg Kremer, of the pigment and varnish dealers. He outlined some old methods that might have been used in the 17th, 18th, centuries. Dr Kremer also gave a recipe for making warmish, however he also stated that there are better and easier ways to make varnish nowadays, but did not give any secrets away!

He recommended willow ash because it was lighter and made a more transparent varnish. ( for anybody who have not burnt willow, you need to burn about 2 cubic foot of willow to get 1 kilo of ash) I found the recipe a bit far fetched, however reading through the old varnish book, that was the way they did it! Dr Kremer said after boiling I kilo of willow ash in two litres of rain water, the PH should be 10 or 12, Enough to make soap when the linseed oil is added, then add the colophony and boil in a tall pot!

Dr Barlow gave the lecture at a violin conference at Newark college England, and I have not heard anything about her work since either.

Cheers Wolfjk

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