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let's make some mastic varnish


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Does anybody have a photo of an instrument, or even just a piece of wood, finished with mastic varnish?  Would this be a ground or a top coat? Would you color it, or use a color base coat?

Don't want to sound like a smart alec, but the answer to your questions is yes.

This is my first after some antiquing - I hated my first attempt and figured, what the hell (so don't laugh too much): https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-_Nr17MTb5xg/Sf5opQ9dXuI/AAAAAAAAAH8/FBg0bzdXKzg/s512/1frontweb.jpg

After vernice bianca I used clear then coloured mastic varnish, a sort of glaze of oil paint, commercial wood stain (I was experimenting :-)) more clear etc.

Regards,

Tim

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Sorry about the bad pics.  This is mastic varnish made in 2011 per the Herron-Allen book.  I used it on a turn of the century American fiddle that someone had stripped bare.  It's supple and remains sensitive to solvents.

 

This version is very thin, brushes nicely, and dried well for me.  First batch didn't.  After following Michael's recommendations regarding heat and UV exposure, it worked well.  It does improve with age.  The Herron-Allen text states to not even use it for 8 months as I recall.

 

post-5808-0-03421700-1393310089_thumb.jpgpost-5808-0-46816300-1393310237_thumb.jpg

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  • 8 months later...

Hi!

I'm new in maestronet, and I've been learning from you all a lot, so thanks!

I wanted to contribute with the mastic varnish I'm doing for my "alpha 1 violin" (i.e. white chinese violin bought from ebay).

So, here are some pictures of the process!

Photo%2025-10-14%2015%2025%2056.jpgPhoto%2025-10-14%2015%2030%2017.jpgPhoto%2028-10-14%2015%2036%2027.jpg

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When I made my own batch of mastic varnish at this stage (over the next 2-3 weeks) all the excess mastic gunk settled to the bottom and the varnish on top became as clear as pilsner beer.

 

I really like the look of the mastic varnish -- it was a dream to brush on and it dried to the touch very quickly. The real issue i had was the final result was very very soft, leaving a thumb print after a few seconds of pressure even several months after application. The varnish became even softer when i added my own madder root based pigment.

 

anyone have an idea what the long term effect of this cold mastic varnish is? doest it remain soft and supple or does it dry out and become brittle over time.

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quote:

Originally posted by: Michael_Molnar

You cannot use the dregs for good varnish.

 

No, I didn't want to use the dregs, I wanted to save the jar if possible...

 

 

Recycle the glass and ... no I won't say throw the varnish away, because you might be able to use small amounts (max 5%) with a good colophony or Strasburg turpentine varnish. However, pure mastic as a fiddle varnish, or even as a major component in a fiddle varnish, will only cause you serious heartache.  

Mastic gum is not only edible, as someone just suggested. It was used by the Romans to sweeten their breath. That's where the word 'masticate' originates. In my opinion that is the best use of this gum if you cannot find chewing gum, or mints, or dental mouthwash, or toothpaste or…

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Of the several violins I have seen that I am sure have mastic varnish, all picked up dirt and grime and are a mess after ten years of playing, particularly in the scroll/pegbox area, heel, and where the hand touches the upper edges and rib.  Maybe there are ways of keeping this from happening, or there was some other factor.  

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  • 4 months later...

Recycle the glass and ... no I won't say throw the varnish away, because you might be able to use small amounts (max 5%) with a good colophony or Strasburg turpentine varnish. However, pure mastic as a fiddle varnish, or even as a major component in a fiddle varnish, will only cause you serious heartache.  

Mastic gum is not only edible, as someone just suggested. It was used by the Romans to sweeten their breath. That's where the word 'masticate' originates. In my opinion that is the best use of this gum if you cannot find chewing gum, or mints, or dental mouthwash, or toothpaste or…

 

It's wonderful for chewing.  I don't have pica or anything, I just really really like it.  Did anyone see that it supposedly kills cancer cells, certain bacteria (better than antibiotics) and also has action against ulcers?  There is some interesting reading out there on the topic...can't believe everything, but there's some peer-reviewed stuff that says so. 

(I revived this topic just because chewing mastic and reading random research articles is so pleasurable for me, yes)

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Interesting note on the cancer thing ,I will pass that on..My wife works in the health care field (lucky me ;)) and has been doing quite a bit of study of essential oils recently. being her on call BS meter, I get to hear all about it,and from what I see there is some hokum... yes ....but also a fair amount of truth as well. the science is incomplete at this point, but large sets of subjective data are coming to the attention of some major underwriters for real in depth investigative study's to begin .  I understand the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN is currently doing some work/ research with Frankincense on cancers ,,,... coconut oil is an antibacterial .. 

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That fiddle in post 104 looks awesome.  

 

" essential oils recently. being her on call BS meter, I get to hear all about it",  

 

  I'm in the same situation.  No matter what ails you, there's an oil for that.   (facepalm)

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Interesting note on the cancer thing ,I will pass that on..My wife works in the health care field (lucky me ;)) and has been doing quite a bit of study of essential oils recently. being her on call BS meter, I get to hear all about it,and from what I see there is some hokum... yes ....but also a fair amount of truth as well. the science is incomplete at this point, but large sets of subjective data are coming to the attention of some major underwriters for real in depth investigative study's to begin .  I understand the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN is currently doing some work/ research with Frankincense on cancers ,,,... coconut oil is an antibacterial .. 

 

No one believes me about coconut oil until their tooth hurts and they would swish with rat piss if it would take away the pain.  Oh, guess what.  Coconut oil and clove.  Works *almost* every time. 

 

The thing with mastic is that it kills cancer cells in a petri dish, but that's not the same as killing cancer cells in the colon. But it's still cool.

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That fiddle in post 104 looks awesome.  

 

" essential oils recently. being her on call BS meter, I get to hear all about it",  

 

  I'm in the same situation.  No matter what ails you, there's an oil for that.   (facepalm)

 

Yup. . . Popeye had spinach and Olive Oil.  :P

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  • 2 years later...
  • 4 years later...

I bought mastic tears at a local Greek grocery / import store; they use it in their traditional cooking and baking.

Anyways, I dissolved mine at room temperature in turpentine spirits, and added a small amount of linseed oil.

I haven't looked at it in a number of years; maybe it's ready for use now.

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I am firmly biased and will not deny it, but I believe mastic as a primary varnish resin is not only disadvantageous, but provably historically unsupportable. If you're going to use non-historical materials, you will be better served reading my article in The Scroll and preparing your own rosinate oil varnishes. The color and transparency cannot be beat. Alternatively, you can buy outstanding oil varnishes prepared by the undisputed master of the craft from @joerobsonthat are made in the historical fashion, or you can buy excellent non-historical violin  varnishes from JG McIntosh. 

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