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Matthew Noykos

Antiquing techniques

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I am starting another thread on antiquing. I'm curious to hear some of the maestronet peoples' materials and techniques for applying them. I know this has probably been done before, but more cannot hurt.

Specifically I would like to know if anyone has something they use to give an overall distressed look. I have used watercolors and opaque earth pigments to achieve a patina look, but does anyone have a different idea that works well. I am doing a cello right now, and when I look at a lot of photos (and instruments that are in for restoration), there is mostly an overall patina with the classic nicks and such. Not a lot of shading and missing varnish. Of course some have that in the classic wear areas, but I like the look of simple patina without all the varnish simply abraded away. Any ideas would be welcomed. I'm feeling stagnant in this area and need some mental stimulation.

Also, at Oberlin, John Becker gave an overview and order to how he approaches a restoration. I found it to be very helpful to have an overall approach from such an experienced person. If some of the more experienced antiquers on this site feel so inclined, it would be very helpful to hear your approach to antiquing, especially an order of operations. John gave an order to every restoration he handles. It was very organized and well thought out. I'm thinking of something like that for antiquing.

Thanks.

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I like ash water haze.

How do you apply it Jezzupe? Do you just mix the ash into the water, apply it to the instrument and then coat over it? I was thinking ash would be good to use because all of the older instruments would have been subjected to a lot it from furnaces and such.

I wonder if there is a way to get the ash into the varnish more thoroughly rather than just glazing? I have thought of this issue with the use of watercolors too.

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I am interested in starting another thread on antiquing. I'm curious to hear some of the maestronet peoples' materials and techniques for applying them. I know this has probably been done before, but more cannot hurt.

Specifically I would like to know if anyone has something they use to give an overall distressed look. I have used watercolors and opaque earth pigments to achieve a patina look, but does anyone have a different idea that works well. I am doing a cello right now, and when I look at a lot of photos (and instruments that are in for restoration), there is mostly an overall patina with the classic nicks and such. Not a lot of shading and missing varnish. Of course some have that in the classic wear areas, but I like the look of simple patina without all the varnish simply abraded away. Any ideas would be welcomed. I'm feeling stagnant in this area and need some mental stimulation.

Also, at Oberlin, John Becker gave an overview and order to how he approaches a restoration. I found it to be very helpful to have an overall approach from such an experienced person. If some of the more experienced antiquers on this site feel so inclined, it would be very helpful to hear your approach to antiquing, especially an order of operations. John gave an order to every restoration he handles. It was very organized and well thought out. I'm thinking of something like that for antiquing.

Thanks.

Mathew,

At what stage is the cello? There is a lot of surface area on a cello. The type of varnishing you describe depends a lot on contrasts....so the earlier in the finishing process you begin the easier the job will be.

Joe

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How do you apply it Jezzupe? Do you just mix the ash into the water, apply it to the instrument and then coat over it? I was thinking ash would be good to use because all of the older instruments would have been subjected to a lot it from furnaces and such.

I wonder if there is a way to get the ash into the varnish more thoroughly rather than just glazing? I have thought of this issue with the use of watercolors too.

Ah, trade secrets, unbeknownst to many, I often do not discuss these things, not because I don't want to share them, but because, well, some of it is quite disgusting to some people. But since you asked.

I am very picky about my ash, I generally only use tobacco/hemp ash mixed with spit and some water. The ash is more like the coal of the cigarette. Not all ash is alike. When a cig burns there is the "ash ash" the totally burned stuff and then there is the coal. If the coal is put out in spit, when it cools it leaves behind a "black ash" that is only partially burned. This is the good stuff, it still has a large amount of tar/resins in it, unlike the completely burned ash from the end. The tar and resins contained in this "gorp" have a rather good adhesion quality. The enzymes and god knows what else is my spit seems to aid to the viscosity better than just straight water. Similar to doing retouch work with artist paints, the spit works better than water for thinning, the spit is thicker. So any way ths can be used thicker or thinned with water. When thinned it is good for going into nooks and crannies and leaving behind black gorp build up that mimics dirt build up quite well. for use it as a haze, the tar makes it stick quite well, it can be layered up thicker, or not, and then over coated with a varnish coat to lock it in...and protect the innocents form the evil tobacco. I have used it as the final rub down, it is excellent to use like rottenstone, it levels and smooths a bit, yet what it really seems to do is de-gloss the finish quicker than anything I have used. Its probably the layer of thinned tar that kills the sheen. People who do not smoke have played that one and never complained about it stinking like an ashtray. Maybe a bit at first, but the smell seems to go away completely as time goes by. I still lock it in under finish coats for the most part. ts great for dings and pits too, It puts the instant grunge and dark spots in the depressions in an easy kind of way. More natural looking than dark stains or diluted black-water, imo.

edit:if you do something with it you do not like, it can be simply wiped off and done over, the tar keeps it in place enough so it will not brush out when applying varnish over it, yet can be removed easy prior to over coating if you do not like it.

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From the point of view of a cello student, I personally would like to own a cello that has had no antiquing procedures applied on it. If new I would like it to get old naturaly. If already old I wouldn't like it with artificial scratches and patches of varnish removed.

For me I think it withdraws from the cello its real personality and therefore I tend not to play comfortably with it (strange I know). Case I found a cello that I like its sound or it plays wonderful of course I would do an exception (no doubts about that!) but there would always remain that little disappointment.

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One conclusion I've drifted toward is that there is no substitute for generous UV exposure before anything else touches the wood.

I haven't encountered a stain yet that conveys the same dark "oldness" of wood as successfully.

E

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Mathew,

At what stage is the cello? There is a lot of surface area on a cello. The type of varnishing you describe depends a lot on contrasts....so the earlier in the finishing process you begin the easier the job will be.

Joe

I varnished it new. Then I decided to antique it later. I know this is how some people approach the subject and I know it can be easier to do some of it ahead of time. I have tried both. What is your approach? I would be curious to know your order of operations.

From the point of view of a cello student, I personally would like to own a cello that has had no antiquing procedures applied on it. If new I would like it to get old naturaly. If already old I wouldn't like it with artificial scratches and patches of varnish removed.

For me I think it withdraws from the cello its real personality and therefore I tend not to play comfortably with it (strange I know). Case I found a cello that I like its sound or it plays wonderful of course I would do an exception (no doubts about that!) but there would always remain that little disappointment.

I agree to a certain extent. I'm not in one camp or the other. I like new instruments that are done well. For me there still has to be something interesting in the wood or texture though. I don't particularly like the candy apple dipped look. There were a lot of those in the last VSA competition. Many of those candy apple looking violins were done very competently from a technique perspective but were completely boring. There were some very nice new looking instruments though. Peter Goodfellow's cello comes to mind. It had a very nice texture that added interest. I also like antiqued instruments that are done well. Basically anything that is done well I like. That was the obvious statement of the week right? I think that a lot can be learned about one's varnish by antiquing also, so it can be a good exercise for education purposes.

As I mentioned earlier, I do like the look of some clean varnished instruments. Unfortunately, I think antiqued instruments sell better, and since I am in the business of making money (ultimately I do this because I love it but I have to make a living), I feel like I need to learn to antique well.

One conclusion I've drifted toward is that there is no substitute for generous UV exposure before anything else touches the wood.

I haven't encountered a stain yet that conveys the same dark "oldness" of wood as successfully.

E

I have also found this is important. Do you find that the instrument hits a threshold of exposure and doesn't darken much more? How long do you put instruments in UV?

Jezzupe,

Very interesting technique. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely give it a try. I may contact you at some point with a few specific questions if you would be OK with that?

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Also, at Oberlin, John Becker gave an overview and order to how he approaches a restoration. I found it to be very helpful to have an overall approach from such an experienced person. If some of the more experienced antiquers on this site feel so inclined, it would be very helpful to hear your approach to antiquing, especially an order of operations. John gave an order to every restoration he handles. It was very organized and well thought out. I'm thinking of something like that for antiquing.

Thanks.

Could you share some details about Becker's system?

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Could you share some details about Becker's system?

I don't have any issues sharing it, but I would like to check with someone first to see if it is OK that I share.

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I don't have any issues sharing it, but I would like to check with someone first to see if it is OK that I share.

Hi Matthew;

I spoke with John about that particular talk after the workshop, and he mentioned that he might work with his son to put it down on paper... for later presentation or possibly publication. I thought it to be a good idea.

Going into the subject in detail might be interesting here, but some of what I found memorable and insightful when John talked personally was that knowing the guy (or for some, at the very least, knowing the guy's work), and hearing how he approaches his work, gave the subject real "weight"... so let's give him some time and see what he comes up with?

For those who are curious, to touch on the subject generally, John discussed the general order in which he plans an executes a restoration. It sprung from feeling that many kind of "dived in" without a specific plan/order in mind. He felt it was hard to "win" the job (have top notch results) if things were done "out of order". Simple things (like having a general approach plan and budget or cleaning the instrument before disassembly) as well as more technical things (working from the center of the plate out when dealing with significant deformation/reinforcement/flaws) were covered within the talk.

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Matt I wish you could have seen some of the recent violins before they sold. Ive been backing off farther and farther from antiquing to just making it look 100 year museum quality much like some of the photos that have been shared like the Lady Blunt. For some contrast in the nicks and scratches Ive been using coal dust and oil colors in the manganese brown spectrum lightly rubbed on and wiped off with a spit coat of oil varnish. Let dry, then one final coat of oil varnish thinly makes a great effect. Gives just enough of an authentic look to the texture inside the nicks without looking overly done. Otherwise I now just do gentle antiquing of normal wear areas enough for taste but not ripping off varnish to bare wood. In some of the parts of the backplate that usually have heavy wear - I take packing tape and gently form some of the chipping effect. Otherwise it's clean, but the texture and small scratches and nicks look authentic. Your mileage may vary. Miss chatting with ya, hope things are going well in Pasewicz land. :) cheers

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I admire the work of many good antiquers, but I too will come down on the side of "less is more", if done skillfully. As time goes on, without this attitude, will we eventually end up with a look which appears to have spent too much time in a rock polisher, with little in the way of signature features remaining?

Regarding "Pasewicz land": I recently spoke to two people who are employed there, and both described themselves as "lifers". That's one of the most powerful recommendations I've ever heard. Jerry pushes 'em super hard, but somehow the value of that comes through.

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I varnished it new. Then I decided to antique it later. I know this is how some people approach the subject and I know it can be easier to do some of it ahead of time. I have tried both. What is your approach? I would be curious to know your order of operations.

Mathew,

The order of applications will vary a good deal in relation to the instrument and the varnish goal. I would be glad to discuss the alternatives. However for the time being let's look at the situation of your cello. As I said, contrast is essential. So let's look at couple of ideas.

First of all you may or may not decide to do some mild abrasion in the wear areas. If you do this try pumice and oil as it is easy to control and will not flatten out the grain texture. Be careful not to expose too light a surface or you will be correcting the color.

Second we can do some color highlights. This is something I learned from an oil painter [chime in any time guys]. Your cello color is likely a combination of tints. If you choose one of these and apply it in as monochromatic material you can deepen the color in the areas you want to accent and create some contrast.

Third is similar to the ash method described. The technique of adding a thin dark surface to mute color and enhance contrast is often referred to as a "widow's veil". You can make use of this in 2 ways. First add some bone black to your color varnish. Apply this to the "dark" areas. Second mix some bone black into clear varnish and apply a thin coat to the whole instrument. This black varnish can also be varied by adding a bit of gold pigment or a green pigment.

Ernie,

I agree to a large extent about UV exposure. This is very effective if:

1. You have the time.

2. You have good wood.

3. The instrument will not be heavily antiqued.

UV tends to bring out the depth and natural variation of color better than any other method I have seen.

These pictures are of a violin I am preparing for the workshop. The ground is almost done. This is a combination of sunlight, lightbox, and Balsam Ground done over a period of about a [sunny] month. The varnish plan for this violin is the Lady Blunt...so not so much antiquing....

David,

Isn't Les Ismore the Car Guys lawyer?

on we go,

Joe

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post-6284-0-75463300-1311813142_thumb.jpg

post-6284-0-21240200-1311813169_thumb.jpg

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Hi Matthew;

I spoke with John about that particular talk after the workshop, and he mentioned that he might work with his son to put it down on paper... for later presentation or possibly publication. I thought it to be a good idea.

Going into the subject in detail might be interesting here, but some of what I found memorable and insightful when John talked personally was that knowing the guy (or for some, at the very least, knowing the guy's work), and hearing how he approaches his work, gave the subject real "weight"... so let's give him some time and see what he comes up with?

For those who are curious, to touch on the subject generally, John discussed the general order in which he plans an executes a restoration. It sprung from feeling that many kind of "dived in" without a specific plan/order in mind. He felt it was hard to "win" the job (have top notch results) if things were done "out of order". Simple things (like having a general approach plan and budget or cleaning the instrument before disassembly) as well as more technical things (working from the center of the plate out when dealing with significant deformation/reinforcement/flaws) were covered within the talk.

I can respect this. It is for this very reason that I am leary of posting information from a visit that I had with Luiz Bellini. Out of respect for him I need to ask before I post. It is fair to say that he is not bad with antiquing :)

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Isn't Les Ismore the Car Guys lawyer?

I thought they retained the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe... possibly Machold was a client, too.

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I varnished it new. Then I decided to antique it later. I know this is how some people approach the subject and I know it can be easier to do some of it ahead of time. I have tried both. What is your approach? I would be curious to know your order of operations.

I agree to a certain extent. I'm not in one camp or the other. I like new instruments that are done well. For me there still has to be something interesting in the wood or texture though. I don't particularly like the candy apple dipped look. There were a lot of those in the last VSA competition. Many of those candy apple looking violins were done very competently from a technique perspective but were completely boring. There were some very nice new looking instruments though. Peter Goodfellow's cello comes to mind. It had a very nice texture that added interest. I also like antiqued instruments that are done well. Basically anything that is done well I like. That was the obvious statement of the week right? I think that a lot can be learned about one's varnish by antiquing also, so it can be a good exercise for education purposes.

As I mentioned earlier, I do like the look of some clean varnished instruments. Unfortunately, I think antiqued instruments sell better, and since I am in the business of making money (ultimately I do this because I love it but I have to make a living), I feel like I need to learn to antique well.

I have also found this is important. Do you find that the instrument hits a threshold of exposure and doesn't darken much more? How long do you put instruments in UV?

Jezzupe,

Very interesting technique. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely give it a try. I may contact you at some point with a few specific questions if you would be OK with that?

Of course, anytime.

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On 7/27/2011 at 3:26 PM, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Hi Matthew;

I spoke with John about that particular talk after the workshop, and he mentioned that he might work with his son to put it down on paper... for later presentation or possibly publication. I thought it to be a good idea.

Going into the subject in detail might be interesting here, but some of what I found memorable and insightful when John talked personally was that knowing the guy (or for some, at the very least, knowing the guy's work), and hearing how he approaches his work, gave the subject real "weight"... so let's give him some time and see what he comes up with?

For those who are curious, to touch on the subject generally, John discussed the general order in which he plans an executes a restoration. It sprung from feeling that many kind of "dived in" without a specific plan/order in mind. He felt it was hard to "win" the job (have top notch results) if things were done "out of order". Simple things (like having a general approach plan and budget or cleaning the instrument before disassembly) as well as more technical things (working from the center of the plate out when dealing with significant deformation/reinforcement/flaws) were covered within the talk.

Did John ever write this up and was it published?

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3 hours ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Did John ever write this up and was it published?

Not yet, but he did come back a couple years later for an encore presentation.

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On ‎7‎/‎27‎/‎2011 at 8:41 PM, scordatura said:

I can respect this. It is for this very reason that I am leary of posting information from a visit that I had with Luiz Bellini. Out of respect for him I need to ask before I post. It is fair to say that he is not bad with antiquing :)

As Luiz is no longer able  to answer anything I think sharing his thoughts on antiquing would be a tribute to him.

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