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Madder root from different regions


Trapper
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I planted some Madder four years ago despite the warnings that it wouldn't survive the Canadian winters. After the first winter, I lost about 1/3 of the plants; after the second winter, a few more dies out, and the subsequent survivors seemed to have become acclimated. I plan on digging them up this spring to see if it was a successful endeavor.

I also planted some Weld, and it flourished very well. I have yet to do anything with it; the plants have been hanging in the shed waiting for me. Perhaps today would be a good day to experiment.

As I write this, the temperature outside dropped overnight to -30C. My collie wasn't very enthusiastic about going out this morning to do her business.

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Of course there is still the possibility to start with a resin that is already colored, but I often read here that it's a quite a dead end and that dragon blood or accroides resins don't make good varnish or lose their color very quickly.

As far as it being a dead end, it would depend on what was used to create the color. Dragons Blood is very fugitive as are most of the vegetable derived colors. Oxidized resin however, should be good for a long, long time.

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Vermillion/cinnabar has been mentioned a few times in this thread. It seems to have turned up a fair bit in very small amounts in the Brandmair/Greiner analysis.

 

From experimenting a lot with this stuff in varnish mixes I did not come to any feeling that is was much use for achieving attractive tints. On the other hand it was used historically by painters as a red base color for effects using vegetable lake overpainting. Probably it was very respected for it's permanence and as a red base was a guarantee that if fugitive vegetable glazes faded red would still be the predominant color where intended.

 

After a fair bit of pondering I came to wonder if cinnabar in violin varnish is there not for its tint but as a kind of alchemistic ingredient intended to aid permanence of other colors known to be fugitive....pure speculation of course.

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Vermillon being quite toxic it would be good to know that it's not really necessary to achieve some color in a varnish... :)

Having said that, if the color of the front plate of the Messiah is really as red as it appears on the picture I can see in the C&J book, it's amazing to think that such color can be achieved without any pigment. When I compare it to the other violin pictures of the book, the red is really red, not red/brown or reddish or brown/red like the pictures of the Amati or Guarneri pictures.

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Vermillon being quite toxic it would be good to know that it's not really necessary to achieve some color in a varnish... :)

Having said that, if the color of the front plate of the Messiah is really as red as it appears on the picture I can see in the C&J book, it's amazing to think that such color can be achieved without any pigment. When I compare it to the other violin pictures of the book, the red is really red, not red/brown or reddish or brown/red like the pictures of the Amati or Guarneri pictures.

The red of the Messiah is in reality not very red. It is a very subtle shade....often when we see Strad reds it is in contrast with a pale or gold ground  which makes the red color look more red than it really is....

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I planted some Madder four years ago despite the warnings that it wouldn't survive the Canadian winters.

Bill,

Madder in its "natural" environment is harvested 3 - 7 years after planting.  At 4 years on the Canadian shield maybe you should try a sample before  you pull it all up.

Joe

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Thanks Joe,

That's what I intended on doing.  We aren't really in the Canadian Shield area; we're on the open prairie with 3 feet of rich, #1 black loam topsoil in our area. During the growing season, it's very lush here.  My only fear is if I leave it too long, eventually a cold winter (-40C) might finish it off.

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I don't recall seeing that in B&G.

It was imported as ballast in ships returning from the port of Pernambuco which is where the name comes from. It was rasped into dust by prisoners who were eventually poisoned by it. This dust was used in the dying industry. At some point later bow makers discovered it. But it was a coloring agent long before that. Brazil and Pernambuco are more or less generic names for the same species. 

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I guess making yellow or amber varnish without any pigment is relatively easy, but to make it red is the mark of professionals. I remember treating some rosin with nitric acid and getting a nice red/brown resin. But the resulting varnish, although very dark, was yellow or golden yellow on the wood. It was nice though. the same applied to the larch turpentine I cooked. the varnish is ruby red in the bottle but gives a (nice) yellow on the wood. Adding little iron oxide and a little bit of crimson lake make it a nice red/brown though.

So maybe I just need to keep on trying and found a temperature/time conditions that works better. Afterall, the less pigment you need to add the more transparent and easy to use the varnish should be :)

Robertdo, I am sure that you know this, but for others thinking about doing this, you really need to be very careful with Nitric acid and resins. Mixed with collophony it can make nitro-collophony which is a rather unstable explosive, along the lines of nitroglycerin.

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If you can determine the color in the jar, it's not colored enough. A real red or brown varnish appears black in the jar, unless it's sloshed around; the color may then be seen in the thin film running down the inside of the jar. It takes considerable color density to produce the colors we are striving to achieve in a very thin film. I experimented with nitric, and it does indeed color the resins in a worthwhile way. However, I still wasn't achieving the density of color that would get me "there" after 2 or three coats of colored varnish. It always required the addition of madder to get the desired result.

Bill you are right about how it should look in the jar. But instead of using nitric which can be dangerous and in any case has only a very limited effect. Just try cooking the resin long and slow. It might cause the neighbors to complain, but in Canada they are usually a two hour flight away.

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Robertdo, I am sure that you know this, but for others thinking about doing this, you really need to be very careful with Nitric acid and resins. Mixed with collophony it can make nitro-collophony which is a rather unstable explosive, along the lines of nitroglycerin.

Oh yes, I was very careful and it was only a one in a life time try. I indeed got the same color by simply heating larch turpentine at about 100C for 3h, which is after all not that surprising since in both cases what we achieve is oxidation of the resin (even though it's faster with the acid). I will try to cook it much longer next time and see what happens when I make the varnish.

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Summary....

We can isolate these as the colorant factors:

1.  Color from cooked [oxidized] pine resins.

2.  Color from some particulate.   Best guesses being cochineal, iron oxide [perhaps an artifact of cooking in an iron pot],  Vermillion [perhaps an artifact of re-touch].  And maybe bone black given the amount  carbon and calcium present.  The total of these particulates having less coloring power than the color of the coating.

3.  Color from some non-particulate source that is a more significant factor than the particulates  [perhaps associated with the anthraquinones identified].

 

Back to the original question.  If the anthraquinones detected are madder based then they are certainly varied according to the source.

 

Joe

                                                                     

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Bill you are right about how it should look in the jar. But instead of using nitric which can be dangerous and in any case has only a very limited effect. Just try cooking the resin long and slow. It might cause the neighbors to complain, but in Canada they are usually a two hour flight away.

I'll have to try that. Do you lose any great quantity of the resin from long cooking times?

 

When I was  experimenting with the Nitric acid, I was adding it a few drops at a time with an eye dropper to the resin while it was cooking. Consequently, there was never any large quantity of acid there at any one time. If long cooking times yield the same result, I'm all for it.

 

The neighbors are using dog sleds this time of year, so by the time they arrive here to complain, I'll long have the fire out and the evidence safely put away. :)

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It probably depends on the kind of resin you are heating. For example I cooked about 120ml of larch turpentine and in the end I got exactly 50g of hard resin (I could follow what was happening by looking at the quantity of fume coming out of the pot). that was quite a drop in weight, but raw larch turpentine contains a large proportion of volatile chemical. Cooking rosin (colophony) would probably results in much less loss since it's already the hard product of distillation.

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It probably depends on the kind of resin you are heating. For example I cooked about 120ml of larch turpentine and in the end I got exactly 50g of hard resin (I could follow what was happening by looking at the quantity of fume coming out of the pot). that was quite a drop in weight, but raw larch turpentine contains a large proportion of volatile chemical. Cooking rosin (colophony) would probably results in much less loss since it's already the hard product of distillation.

 

 

I  wonder if anyone has tried to distill out the vapors from cooking down something like Larch. Would you get a turpentine like solvent? Would it be useful or even usable? It's been something I've been wanting to do lately. At least get a small sample to test it's properties. I know Kremer sells 'fir needle oil' which I've had on back order for over a year.

 

Oded

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I  wonder if anyone has tried to distill out the vapors from cooking down something like Larch. Would you get a turpentine like solvent? Would it be useful or even usable? It's been something I've been wanting to do lately. At least get a small sample to test it's properties. I know Kremer sells 'fir needle oil' which I've had on back order for over a year.

 

Oded

 

Hmmmm...do I remember where I put those velvet handcuffs.......Oded has the vapors..again...

on we go,

Joe

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Hmmmm...do I remember where I put those velvet handcuffs.......Oded has the vapors..again...

on we go,

Joe

 

velvet handcuffs???? do go on :rolleyes: .... sometimes aromatic vapors get the best of us all.

Oded, I have, I'm nervous to admit.... collected the turps off balsam resin ...It's very simple,and fun, for a vapor head ...I used a stainless thermos-water bottle for the body,with a rough cut wooden plug with a hole in the middle for the copper condenser....fill with resin and then seal all up with a paste made of flour and water. cook at a temp slightly hotter than the turps evaporate .... I found a sand bath helped ,also insulating the upper end to get past the bend.

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I had some Benzoin left and I thought I would cook it an hour just to see what kind of colour I would get because the resin was a mix of small pebbles  brown and red. the resin I got after cooking is very very dark brown with some shades of red (I had never had anything so colored simply by cooking). I will add some oil and see if they mix and if I get something that looks like a varnish because I think the color would be attractive on wood.

I know that Benzoin is not used for violin varnish and is usually used as spirit varnish,but maybe as an oil ground with the very minimal addition of madder or iron oxide?

Anybody ever tried this?

post-29661-0-49163900-1359584469_thumb.jpg

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I had some Benzoin left and I thought I would cook it an hour just to see what kind of colour I would get because the resin was a mix of small pebbles  brown and red. the resin I got after cooking is very very dark brown with some shades of red (I had never had anything so colored simply by cooking). I will add some oil and see if they mix and if I get something that looks like a varnish because I think the color would be attractive on wood.

I know that Benzoin is not used for violin varnish and is usually used as spirit varnish,but maybe as an oil ground with the very minimal addition of madder or iron oxide?

Anybody ever tried this?

 If it looks really nice you could grind& mull it and add as a 'pigment'

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Iron oxides can vary a lot, some of them are pretty transparent and some of them pretty opaque. Kremer sells a wide variety of natural earths and they will cover the whole range of transparencies. If you want to get into modern colors then nanoparticle sized iron oxides are extremely transparent.

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 If it looks really nice you could grind& mull it and add as a 'pigment'

that's an original idea. Using a ground resin as pigment.

It also occured to me that it would not be very difficult, on a batch of benzoin resin, to separate the brown pebbles, the red ones and the others to be able to get several colors. I couldn't find much information about the reason for such variation on colour.

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