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Bruce Carlson

Bergonzi Exhibition - Cremona

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Hi David,

The edge and soundhole photograph in Joe's post #86 pretty well clears up any of the mystery. The edge is totally unworn and the soft spring and summer growth actually protrudes above the hard autumnal growth of the annual ring; just the same as you see on the table surface.

Thanks Bruce. From the first photo, I couldn't tell if the grain on the edges was the same as the rest of the top, or reversed.

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Hi Kelvin,

Agreed that a certain amount of shrinkage goes into the effect we are seeing. However, I think that this shrinking came very early in the life of the surface and then it was done. For the effect we observe the varnish must have a certain body and have little tendency to self-level. The meniscus of the varnish has a characteristic "droop" which is evident in the way it drops into the pore structure of open grained maple. A grounded subsurface stabilized by a lean ground varnish [quite hard and abrasion resistant...but with little body] holds its shape [geography] under the top coat..

Joe

Hard to say. I had one varnish formula which did this when new. It would self-level quite nicely, but then actually exaggerate the geography underneath during initial drying. It wasn't from solvent evaporation, because there was no solvent or anything else which would evaporate. My guess was that it was from the film expanding from oxygen absorption, but not expanding enough (or the coating wasn't thick enough) to produce wrinkling. When I substituted an oil which was already oxygen reacted, it no longer did this.

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Melvin,

I agree with the Brandmair analysis to a degree. I see the varnish which is directly in contact with the wood as an extremely lean [high resin/low oil] varnish. I do not think this holds true of the upper colored varnish.

Joe

I think John Becker's observations (see the catalog) pertaing to the isolation layer, or lack of it, for the various maker's and periods of work... And the resulting appearace and texture/wear patterns are interesting and perceptive. In other words, what I saw added up quite well with what he presented.

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........ Is that a 4 piece purfling ?

I would say it is........

post-23985-1286627751_thumb.jpg

:)

......It was very nice to meet you in Cremona, hope to see you soon again! :)

A presto,

Bernhard

It was very nice indeed! I'm bewitched by your awesome varnish. I've been visiting the exibition four more times and, in my amateur opinion, I would say you are on the right path.

Did you and little Anton get some rest at the end of the week?

Hope to meet you soon too.

Ciao

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I think John Becker's observations (see the catalog) pertaing to the isolation layer, or lack of it, for the various maker's and periods of work... And the resulting appearace and texture/wear patterns are interesting and perceptive. In other words, what I saw added up quite well with what he presented.

Incidentally, Jeffrey already has John Becker lined up for the Oberlin Restoration Workshop next year. I"m not involved in restoration any more, and I'm no longer the official program director, but I think I'll need to find some way to hang out. Observations of restorers can be so valuable to makers. And just the creativity involved in restoration is fascinating. My primary training came from people who where school-trained as makers, but made their living from restoration, and I have no regrets.

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Hi Bruce, I had seem that post last week and half remembered it, got the photos thanks.

I tried the loose three piece purfling method but found it very tricky to manipulate.

Joe, is that fishtail type line decoration on the back of the Cello ?

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... .

By 'the ribbed effect' I just meant the tendency for the summer and winter growth

to be less than perfectly level, hence ribbed.

The opposite can be seen on the worn edges of most old instruments where the winter growth stands proud of the worn summer growth. 'But it's still ribbed'.

As you might have guessed.

I agree with Bruce about the edgework and Bergonzi's possible method of finishing.

Actually I get the same effect after sanding the edges smooth when I applied the gelatin to the top and edges, it swells the grain slightly making the summer growth pop out.

Karl Roy (and others) explain this. P. 404 of Roy's book: "The final smoothing is done with sandpaper, about 180 grit. The grit should not be too fine because otherwise it is not strong enough to cut the hard grain, and the result will be a bumpy curve."

When I looked for this quote, I found that I had underlined it. Looking at my earlier violins, I can see why. :)

Mike

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Hi Bruce, I had seem that post last week and half remembered it, got the photos thanks.

I tried the loose three piece purfling method but found it very tricky to manipulate.

Joe, is that fishtail type line decoration on the back of the Cello ?

Ben,

The strip is an expansion insert that was done by a Spanish maker [Ortega] about 90 years after the cello was made. This was done at the request of the owner. In one of the earlier pictures you can see the rib expansion.

Joe

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Here is a shot of the back of the Bergonzi Cramer Heath [1732]. I found this instrument fascinating.

First of all Bergonzin IMHO does orange better than any of his contemporaries. The colored varnish. though polished, is fresh and very thin. The layer between the ground and the colored varnish [the white layer according to Bruce Carlson, gold by my eye] is relatively thick. This gives a depth and sparkle to the varnish and really shows off the ground. A good example of what a good ground can do for a mediocre piece of wood. This back shows beautiful haloed highlights in the wear pattern.

on we go,

Joe

post-6284-1286753447_thumb.jpg

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Yesterday evening 18:00 Cremona time we removed all the instruments from the display windows and put them back in their cases for the owners.

It was really a great exhibition and I doubt if I'll live to see another on Bergonzi of this magnitude.

Carlo Bergonzi has, unjustly, always been in the shadows of the other Cremonese makers who were more prolific. His production however embraces many of the better aspects of his fellow makers and yet remain highly individual works. Made to delight both eye and ear. What a production!

Bruce

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Yesterday evening 18:00 Cremona time we removed all the instruments from the display windows and put them back in their cases for the owners.

It was really a great exhibition and I doubt if I'll live to see another on Bergonzi of this magnitude.

Carlo Bergonzi has, unjustly, always been in the shadows of the other Cremonese makers who were more prolific. His production however embraces many of the better aspects of his fellow makers and yet remain highly individual works. Made to delight both eye and ear. What a production!

Bruce

Bruce,

Just wanted to thank you and all the other organizers of this truly inspiring symposium and exhibition. It's always nice to come back to Cremona to meet old violins and new friends. Especially the Bergonzi cello blew me away. Modern makers should see more instruments like this in order to understand more of how they looked when new.

Of course the varnish is somehow oxidised after many years, but still it has a story to tell.

Jacob

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Bruce,

Just wanted to thank you and all the other organizers of this truly inspiring symposium and exhibition. It's always nice to come back to Cremona to meet old violins and new friends. Especially the Bergonzi cello blew me away. Modern makers should see more instruments like this in order to understand more of how they looked when new.

Of course the varnish is somehow oxidised after many years, but still it has a story to tell.

Jacob

Bruce,

I second Jacob's thanks to all who contributed to the Bergonzi Exhibition. The education and experience it provided were priceless.

Joe

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Here is a shot of the back of the Bergonzi Cramer Heath [1732]. I found this instrument fascinating.

There is no surface roughness that I can see,,, comapratble to the photos of the cello. What does that indicate? Would the thick non-colored coat have been used to smooth the surface? If so, maybe Bergonzi wanted the surface smooth. I like smooth myself.

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There is no surface roughness that I can see,,, comapratble to the photos of the cello. What does that indicate? Would the thick non-colored coat have been used to smooth the surface? If so, maybe Bergonzi wanted the surface smooth. I like smooth myself.

Hi John,

If these instruments could only talk.

The smoother surface of the violin indicates likely polishing sometime in the past.

How the varnish ages can give us clues as to its make-up. I far prefer this (below) to a caramel apple finish but taste is personal. The current preference for a glassy shiny finish is very recent.

Bruce

post-29446-1286819256_thumb.jpg

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Hi John,

If these instruments could only talk.

The smoother surface of the violin indicates likely polishing sometime in the past.

How the varnish ages can give us clues as to its make-up. I far prefer this (below) to a caramel apple finish but taste is personal. The current preference for a glassy shiny finish is very recent.

Bruce

The structure of the roughness on the cello seemed far coarser than could have been smoothed with any kind of polish.

I will buy the idea that shiny is not desired. Growing up, I saw many pianos with checked finish, wrinkled finish etc. They were originally smooth, the texture was not intentional. But maybe people like it anyway.

I don't like glassy shiny either. I am looking into ways to get gloss as opposed to shine.

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The structure of the roughness on the cello seemed far coarser than could have been smoothed with any kind of polish.

I will buy the idea that shiny is not desired. Growing up, I saw many pianos with checked finish, wrinkled finish etc. They were originally smooth, the texture was not intentional. But maybe people like it anyway.

I don't like glassy shiny either. I am looking into ways to get gloss as opposed to shine.

Hi John,

The photograph was taken close-up and is perhaps not as coarse as it might appear to be. The surface texture has got me to thinking that the varnish, at least the color varnish on top, is not really acting like a contiguous film and that this might allow the plates to vibrate in a different way than if the instrument was covered with a true continuous varnish layer. Just a thought.

Varnishes on other instruments have cracked up to a much greater extent, even to a point where it could be considered undesirable. It still can tell us a lot about the nature of the varnish.

Bruce

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Hi John,

The photograph was taken close-up and is perhaps not as coarse as it might appear to be. The surface texture has got me to thinking that the varnish, at least the color varnish on top, is not really acting like a contiguous film and that this might allow the plates to vibrate in a different way than if the instrument was covered with a true continuous varnish layer. Just a thought.

Varnishes on other instruments have cracked up to a much greater extent, even to a point where it could be considered undesirable. It still can tell us a lot about the nature of the varnish.

Bruce

Would stippling a very viscous color coat account for it, or does it look more like an effect from drying?

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Would stippling a very viscous color coat account for it, or does it look more like an effect from drying?

Drying.

Not all of these instruments were varnished in exactly the same way as some have thicker and others thinner varnish coats. Because of this, during drying and ageing they have reacted in different ways. I'm convinced that the varnish making and application techniques were not easy to control, accounting for the differences we see today. Organic materials are famous for this. Together with the life and history of the instrument once it left the workshop does the rest.

Bruce

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