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Harris Sheldon emulsion ground


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This emulsion ground is something that has really caught my interest. I only do restoration and touch-up work, so I have no experience in doing an instrument from "in the white" to finished. The emulsion seems to be something that might be realistic for the time period. I may try something a bit different. I have access to glass "swarf" (fine particulates from glass grinding and polishing). I might try using a bit of that instead of the clay.

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I ordered 5 different kinds of kaolin clay - and tried about 20 samples on wood and also some samples on glass. I abandoned this method due to the fact that transparency was a big issue. It would get close to perfectly clear - but not as clear as I required to accentuate chatoyancy.

After 2 weeks in a light box - there was also some adherence problems (chipping) of different types of oil varnish laid on the top of the ground on the wood samples. The samples looked very similar to the violin displayed on the Harris Sheldon website - rather flat to my eye and lacking transparency.

This type of ground also does not wear in the way I liked - scratch tests and abrasives wore to a dull opaque sheen that when frenchpolished over did not have the same apperance of what I would standardize as natural wear. (I try to test fine abrasives to see how the varnish will wear over time and if it will have future issues)

Overall I'm sure if this method was played with it could work.

Acoustically I have not ran any tests on this method. Has anyone tested the dampening response of this type of emulsion? This would be the deciding factor of doing additional experiments.

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It is indistinguishable from the base oil varnish except that it has some minerals in it. This makes it more difficult to strip a violin with methylene cloride-based strippers. (which does not seem to hurt the wood at all.) If the original varnish feels somewhat gooey, the mineral will subtract a bit from that. But don't depend on it. I avoid gooey varnishes altogether.

The small amounts of casein do not make it water sensitive. With certain minerals, the casein content can be dropped far below 2% of the acqueas portion. 1% or less.

Thanks!

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I ordered 5 different kinds of kaolin clay - and tried about 20 samples on wood and also some samples on glass. I abandoned this method due to the fact that transparency was a big issue. It would get close to perfectly clear - but not as clear as I required to accentuate chatoyancy.

After 2 weeks in a light box - there was also some adherence problems (chipping) of different types of oil varnish laid on the top of the ground on the wood samples. The samples looked very similar to the violin displayed on the Harris Sheldon website - rather flat to my eye and lacking transparency.

This type of ground also does not wear in the way I liked - scratch tests and abrasives wore to a dull opaque sheen that when frenchpolished over did not have the same apperance of what I would standardize as natural wear. (I try to test fine abrasives to see how the varnish will wear over time and if it will have future issues)

Overall I'm sure if this method was played with it could work.

Acoustically I have not ran any tests on this method. Has anyone tested the dampening response of this type of emulsion? This would be the deciding factor of doing additional experiments.

First of all, apologies to Harris.... the first approach is crude. For one thing, there is no surfactant.

There is an enormous variation on what you can try, but it will not be from a recipe. What you did apparently was not satisfactory. You can give it a pass or fail as you wish. Or you can try new things. The one thing Harris mentions that is useful is that it is the water that keeps the varnish pretty much on top of the wood. Actually, it is the entire emulsion structure.

Thanks!

Thanks for the "thanks" :) And keep the minerals in the acqueas phase. You can see the advantage if you precipitate silicates from a water solution........... You don't need to dry or grind.

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Thanks for the support. I have no secrets, there is nothing that is going to make me rich. I am already "rich."

They are tricky. I hope more people will experiment more than just look for a violin varnish. One gets blind-sighted.....

Thanks John, for the best laugh I've had today. Blind-sighted! I haven't seen an oxymoron that good in years! I'm sure you know, but everyone else might not: it's blind-sided, getting sucker punched on your blind side.

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Hi Johnmasters,

Don't get me wrong, I'm very interested in emulsions. I think it's important to understand how they work and how I can make use of them. That said, I have two questions:

1. What is the purpose for the emulsion ground? In George Frank's words, does it protect or embellish the wood.

2. Does the emulsion ground color the wood chemically? (I believe that the wood seen on classic Cremonese fiddles have been colored chemically. I can't imagine another way to color the wood like that.)

From the acoustical aspect, just so you know where I'm coming from: varnish seldom if ever makes a violin sound better. Contrary, in most cases varnishing violins is about embellishing the wood while causing as little damage as possible to its acoustic properties. I think this is generally accepted. From this perspective, I'm concerned about applying a "concrete" coat of any kind on the instrument. I want a good reason for doing a particular thing. "Because that's what the old masters did." is not a good enough reason. I need to understand why they did it.

Also, classic Cremonese ground is seldom perfectly clear. I would say that it's semi clear, on the clear side.

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Acoustically I have not ran any tests on this method. Has anyone tested the dampening response of this type of emulsion? This would be the deciding factor of doing additional experiments.

Andrew,

I think this is the MOST important point. There are two people I know who have the equipment to do this -- Martin Schleske and David Meyer. In principle, the equipment is simple -- a tiny magnet, wood strips, coil, amplifier and mic. In practice, the details of the coil are my stumbling block. If anyone wants to help me with that, I would appreciate it.

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Thanks John, for the best laugh I've had today. Blind-sighted! I haven't seen an oxymoron that good in years! I'm sure you know, but everyone else might not: it's blind-sided, getting sucker punched on your blind side.

Yes, it is easy to overlook good things if you are looking for things that are too specific. That is why I think these things should be looked at for their own sake.. That is, whithout a narrow application in mind.

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"There are two people I know who have the equipment to do this -- Martin Schleske and David Meyer."

The equipment for measuring damping can be a lot simpler... just not as precise. Support a test piece at the nodal points, put a mike near it, hit the sample and see how long the sound takes to decay to half its amplitude.

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Hi Johnmasters,

Don't get me wrong, I'm very interested in emulsions. I think it's important to understand how they work and how I can make use of them. That said, I have two questions:

1. What is the purpose for the emulsion ground? In George Frank's words, does it protect or embellish the wood. It is a good way to apply small amounts of varnish. It levels wonderfully. It has more flexibility because there are two phases. (Two sexes allowed rapid evoluition about 700million years ago, after 2 billion of mucking around with bacteria). Actually. an emulsion over bare wood may not permit enough penetration of wood to illuminate it. That is another issue. The emulsion nature will keep minerals and varnish particles in a more stable distribution than other ways, You have to try it to see what I mean.

2. Does the emulsion ground color the wood chemically? (I believe that the wood seen on classic Cremonese fiddles have been colored chemically. I can't imagine another way to color the wood like that.) You should know the answer to this already, from your esperiments (!). I suspect that everyone's detailed questions are an attempt to figure out everything before lifting a hand. This is impossible.

From the acoustical aspect, just so you know where I'm coming from: varnish seldom if ever makes a violin sound better. Contrary, in most cases varnishing violins is about embellishing the wood while causing as little damage as possible to its acoustic properties. I think this is generally accepted. From this perspective, I'm concerned about applying a "concrete" coat of any kind on the instrument. I want a good reason for doing a particular thing. "Because that's what the old masters did." is not a good enough reason. I need to understand why they did it. There is hardly any concrete aspect. There may be a small amount of aggragate, but it is in a flexible matrix. Like road asphalt. You don't need a good reason for anything, at least from my standpoint. I also don't know what "acoustics" are in your mind. I have said this before to other people. To me, acoustics is a mechanical engineering question. Finally, I NEVER set out to duplicate the old Masters. I did read Condax, and that is where I got the idea of emulsions, but not the ideal of a recreation of old varnishes.

Also, classic Cremonese ground is seldom perfectly clear. I would say that it's semi clear, on the clear side. I never said that emulsions were a way to increase transparency. A couple of people have assumed this; I never suggested it.

Why aregue with me? I don't care if you know anything about it. I don't care.................... if you know anything at all.

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"There are two people I know who have the equipment to do this -- Martin Schleske and David Meyer."

The equipment for measuring damping can be a lot simpler... just not as precise. Support a test piece at the nodal points, put a mike near it, hit the sample and see how long the sound takes to decay to half its amplitude.

There are two people who have the equiptment to measure the damping of (traditional German) violin varnishes, maybe, but in only lower modes with long wavelengths. Maybe those results lead to bad conclusions.

There are many people who can measure damping in all kinds of materials at all kinds of frequencies. Not the same thing. I keep saying "forget violins for the moment" and nobody seems to know what I mean.

You don't know how damping effects tone. Everyone seems to think "one must preserve every precious decible" as one of Huthcins' writers once said. I am not convinced. I realize that a few lower peaks want to be strong. Beyond that, who knows.

One problem is that people do not want to waste their own hard efforts on varnish experiments. I think they should buy decent quality Chinese white violins.

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Why aregue with me? I don't care if you know anything about it. I don't care.................... if you know anything at all.

I wasn't arguing, I was just curious. I thought I'd made that clear. I had the impression that you had developed a certain formula, and knew a lot about emulsions, so I asked about it. Thanks for the reply anyway.

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I wasn't arguing, I was just curious. I thought I'd made that clear. I had the impression that you had developed a certain formula, and knew a lot about emulsions, so I asked about it. Thanks for the reply anyway.

I am sorry to sound mean spirited. I am interested in any questions regarding varnishes, or emulsion varnishes. I am not interested in how it might improve a given violin. I am interested in WHAT might improve a violin and how this might relate to finising techniques.

I have not developed many "formulas." I don't like the idea of recipes. There are certain orders of things that work with different materials. Why you do something depends on the materials. that is why a recipe is not really possible. Also, people may apply them differently, brush vs spray for example.

I have a lot of experience with the emulsions I have worked with, and there are a lot of variables. It is best to play with them a while to know what they can do and what they can't. And make all kinds that you can. I am sorry again for sounding dismissive. I WAS dismissive, but only about recipes and how to make violins sound better. One needs to know what the end result should be... then think about the emulsions. Or develop a set of ideas about emulsions of various kinds and then decide what to use depending on the desired result.

That has been my insistence all along. I think it is a great mistake to read something just because it is published and then copy it. (Probably I should have published)

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"There are two people I know who have the equipment to do this -- Martin Schleske and David Meyer."

The equipment for measuring damping can be a lot simpler... just not as precise. Support a test piece at the nodal points, put a mike near it, hit the sample and see how long the sound takes to decay to half its amplitude.

Don,

That is what I used to think. Dr. James Woodhouse convinced me that the problem with the simple knock method is repeatability. Supporting and knocking in an identical manner is problematic. I even designed a simple apparatus for this. But I defer to Woodhouse's expertise.

If you have any evidence to the contrary, I would be very interested.

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First, the support needs to be very accurately located at the nodal points. After a hit, there's some higher frequency noise that buggers up the waveform... you have to let that damp out a bit before the "start" point from which you look for the half-amplitude point.

Yes, it is not accurate, or repeatable to great precision. But I have definitely seen that poor samples (i.e. raw linseed oil on bare wood) are consistently higher damping that better stuff.

It's fast and easy... much better than doing nothing while wishing for the fancy equipment.

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One problem is that people do not want to waste their own hard efforts on varnish experiments. I think they should buy decent quality Chinese white violins.

I have wrecked alot of instruments I've made........... Thank god for cheap violins in the white

Also a thankyou to JM for sharing you work on emulsions , may I say this is your greatest contribution to the greater good of violinmaking

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First, the support needs to be very accurately located at the nodal points. After a hit, there's some higher frequency noise that buggers up the waveform... you have to let that damp out a bit before the "start" point from which you look for the half-amplitude point.

... .

Exactly. It is a matter of technique. One must watch the behavior and "feel" for the right effect.

Mike

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I have wrecked alot of instruments I've made........... Thank god for cheap violins in the white

Also a thankyou to JM for sharing you work on emulsions , may I say this is your greatest contribution to the greater good of violinmaking

Thanks, I did not expect any of the FEA to be directly applicable of course. Just that it could be of interest in some eventual way. I would not dare to talk about archings and graduations, f-hole or model shapes, etc.. too many opinions out there.

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