Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Varnish coloration


fiddlefaddle
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently began reviewing the Cremonese varnish thread on this board ..... including Taylor's varnish coloration method using nitric acid oxidation as a coloration.

I came across this

I recall several people asking about

sources for this treatise, and here it is on the web.

I also wonder where to find the Ferbose paper on this board? I haven't looked at it.. does he discuss nitrification?

This Fry treatise has a wealth of information, much more than I have digested so far, But it raised for me the question, why has nitric acid oxidation as a coloration fallen into disfavor, over pigments?

I would appreciate any thoughts on this.

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 95
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I regularly talk to many violin makers about methods for grounds, colors and varnishes. There always seem to be a variety of parallel tracks...one mainline is the methods that established makers use and hang on to because they know how to make them work and reputation, production, and sanity depend on this. In tandem is the "varnish du jour" based on the currently debated and used (or merely considered) experimental methods. As you observed many of these methods fall in and out of popularity on a regular basis. Then there is the track of real experimentation that adds to your working capabilities as a varnisher. I would venture a guess that we all practice some combination of these tracks.

My focus rests on a notion that a working varnish system is based on having a good idea of how you want the instrument to look and then finding the right tools to do the job in a straightforward and (hopefully) repeatable way. Personally I find it difficult to imagine that the Fry varnish system was used to to make 15th - 19th century instrument varnishes. Though capable of producing pleasing results it seems unnecessarily complicated.

I would be interested to hear the opinion of makers who have used any of the currently popular rapid oxidation methods. Do you worry about degradation of the wood? How about long term reactions between the varnish and the oxidizing agents? Are these methods controllable for the maker or do they lead to a certain similarity of appearance? Do you imagine that these methods have historical precedents? Does this idea matter to you?

I remember a recent thread that asked if makers were happy with their current varnishing methods...there was a distinct lack of response to this topic...

On we go.

Joe

"Just because you have a yardstick, doesn't mean the object to be murdered is a yard long." Charles Bukowski

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From my own experience, a minor disagreement - it NEVER dries properly. In short, a totally useless varnish. However, the book itself and the descriptions of experiments with resins, turpentine and linseed oil are very informative. In one of his experiments Fry obtained terpene resin (as in "Fulton varnish") as a by-product, without realizing its significance and usefulness ("a fine red resin").

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Fulton varnish does not involve nitric acid. It uses gum spirits of turpentine which are thickened by exposure to sunlight and air. This is cooked (carefully, outside) until you get to your desired color. Oil is added (I use flax seed oil but others would work) and it is cooked again. Cool, add turpentine to desired viscosity. I filter it. Additional details are on the southern California violin makers site.

My Fulton varnish colors have never been red enough for me, and I always have to add some alizarin crimson. To get the desired density of color, I have to use a glaze method with earth pigments which are applied immediately over the ground. The color of the Fulton varnish, though it appears to be black in the bottle, is not dark enough when applied as a thin coating.

Mike D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems some contributors have an agenda to discredit and boohoo

everything about Nitric acid varnish as advanced by Fry in his

book, Ferbose gave it one sentence in his treatise, it warrants a

lot more, I used the Fry varnish for years before I established my

own method, it works just fine if you follow the directions in the

book, If you didn't follow directions and made the varnish too

thick then you might have trouble with not drying and crackling, I

never did. The varnish takes form 3-4 days to two weeks to dry per

coat, and requires direct sunlight, but Fry mentions all that in

the book. The drawback of Frys water bath method is that you don't

get the deeper red colours, however he used a sand bath to get

deeper colours I must admit i never tried the sand bath as it has

an appreciable fire risk, tonally the Fry vanish is exceptional, It

is obvious by appearances that Frys varnish has better colour than

pigmented varnish and by observation some old italina violins have

the same colouring  method not pigment, the reason Amati

yellow was predominate early on is they hadn't developed the Nitric

colouring method at that early date, In the 1700s you see much

deeper colours as well as obviously more opaque pigmented

varnsihes, Also UV light analysis shows pigments very easily and

some historical varnsihes just don't appear to have any opaque

pigments under UV light, how the Cremonese produced high grade

Nitric acid, I don't know. As to varnish fading, I never

experienced it, sincerely Lyndon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:


Originally posted by:
Mike_Danielson

My Fulton varnish colors have never been red enough for me, and I always have to add some alizarin crimson. To get the desired density of color, I have to use a glaze method with earth pigments which are applied immediately over the ground. The color of the Fulton varnish, though it appears to be black in the bottle, is not dark enough when applied as a thin coating. Mike D

I have posted this several times with no response. Once again, zinc oxide or litharge (lead oxide) can be put in the oxyturpentine before cooking. Maybe a teaspoon or so per 300cc. This will disolve with an excess remaining. There is NO exothermic reaction and it is quite safe to cook. The lead makes a much better drying varnish, and the zinc will take powdered alizarin (not the lake) to redden the resin considerably. There is some fading, but it remains much more red than the untreated resin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, what do you mean "and the zinc will take powdered alizarin (not the lake) to redden the resin considerably." Alizarin crimson as I use it is a lake, purchased from Daniel Smith artists supply. It is very finely ground and is dispersed into the varnish (not dissolved) Where does your alizarin come from? You seem to imply that there is a reaction between the zinc and the alizarin.

Mike D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why on earth should Ferbose talk about Fry?? There is nothing in the evidence to date to point to similar recipes being used historically. It would be straying far indeed to bring Fry into the 'historical varnish' question given the evidence to date.

For crying out loud they've found cinnabar in some Strad varnish, so clearly he was not above using even fairly opaque pigments in his varnish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andres I think youre making the mistake that all italian varnishes

are similar using identical ingredients, you can't say this Strad

had cinnibar, this other one had Mastic, this one had Francinsense

or whatever and then assume that all Strad varnishes have all three

ingredients, it just doesn't work that way, varnishes varied

immensly over time and from region to region, and varnish probably

wasn't made by the builder but bought from a varnish specialist,

Its obvious to me that acid coloured varnishes were popular because

they give a better colour than pigmented varnishes, but youre going

to go out on a limb and say 100% of Strads varnish contains pigment

because so and so tested three or four violins, and found

something, one thing I know about Scientists is there are

scientists who steadfastly apply the scientific method to rigourous

studies and there are fringe scientists that will twist any data to

fit their own conclusions, obviously in the world today this type

outnumber the real scientists, we just don't know how good the

science is in these studies, anybody can print a scientific study

and claim so and so that doesn;t make it Gospel truth, this is how

Ferbose does his paper, and why he hasn't really proved anything,

just quoted a bunch of papers, that's my opinion, sincerely Lyndon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Taylor: Actually I've never made the assumption you ascribe to me, nor is it required for my point regarding the evidence to be valid.

There is some evidence for the use of pigments. There is no evidence for acid colored varnishes. Ad-hominem smears against the scientific data from multiple labs and the work of Echard of the Cite de la Musique don't change that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alizarin is an organic chemical available in certain shades of colour(this is one of the chemicals in madder ),it reacts with metal ions forming stable complexes(ie lakes),it will react with zinc ,as well as lead,aluminium,copper,etc..(in fact most transitional metals).The alizarin is sold to make synthetic lakes for colouring paints ,dyes ,etc..(avoiding the use of madder root).The colour from synthetic alizarin is not so nice though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe Robson said:

"I would be interested to hear the opinion of makers who have used any of the currently popular rapid oxidation methods. Do you worry about degradation of the wood? How about long term reactions between the varnish and the oxidizing agents? Are these methods controllable for the maker or do they lead to a certain similarity of appearance? Do you imagine that these methods have historical precedents? Does this idea matter to you?

I remember a recent thread that asked if makers were happy with their current varnishing methods...there was a distinct lack of response to this topic...

On we go.

Joe"

Hi Joe! I've been using sodium nitrite and a light amonia fumigation without further problems with the wood or the varnish. I don't know if these methods have historical precedents, but I really don't care about there, what matters for me is the result, and I'm happy with my current varnishing methods (of course it can be better):

1437656702_f8d08419a2.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the subject of Nitric acid ,im not saying it was used in varnishes in Cremona, but Nitric acid was freely available at the time. It was used in dye production.By some coincidence the Arabs invented Nitric acid in the 8th century and the most prolific translator in 12th century Europe of Arabic scientific works was one ` Gerard of Cremona.`

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With regards degradation of the wood, both Fry and myself reccomend

untreated ground coat or two of clear varnish, not nitric treated,

this should protect the wood, Frys method does not totally get rid

of the nitric acid, I think mine does a better job of doing this as

the acid and water is completely boiled off, someone brought up

that the oxidation weakens the varnish, certainly the Nitric acid

varnish is very flexible and good for tone, not at all bright

and unflexible, like shellac varnishes. I certainly see no

disintegration of the varnish on 20 yr old samples, its a fairly

tough varnish i wouldn't expect it to wear particularly quickly.

sincerely Lyndon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, "ars longa, vita brevis".... Varnish making and colouring is an art in itself... and difficult to master...

I think that many things have happened in the violin varnish world in recent times, and not in the form of recipes, but in the form or ready made good varnishes and colouring products made specially for us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:


Originally posted by:
Taylor's Fine Violins

With regards degradation of the wood, both Fry and myself reccomend

untreated ground coat or two of clear varnish, not nitric treated,

this should protect the wood, Frys method does not totally get rid

of the nitric acid, I think mine does a better job of doing this as

the acid and water is completely boiled off, someone brought up

that the oxidation weakens the varnish, certainly the Nitric acid

varnish is very flexible and good for tone, not at all bright

and unflexible, like shellac varnishes. I certainly see no

disintegration of the varnish on 20 yr old samples, its a fairly

tough varnish i wouldn't expect it to wear particularly quickly.

sincerely Lyndon

Didnt Fry recommend straight linseed oil as a ground?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...