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My solution is to use a large rubber band and go from the pegs around the neck a few times.  It keeps the strings from sproinging completely loose from the pegs, which is good enough for me.

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Thanks for that second picture.   I very often find that I have to adjust the after-length on new fiddles as the tailgut stretches a bit.  Maybe I will make something similar except I like Don's solution too!   Quick and simple

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Here is a quick snapshot of my latest experiment. This is my ground topped with a single coat of colorless varnish. The ground has no pigments, particulates, or protein size - all ingredients available to Strad. The lighting is overhead fluorescents and a tungsten desk lamp. It looks close to what I see. If all goes well, I will bring this violin to the Alexandria VSA Exhibit.

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From the reflections, it looks like the clear varnish was trying to avoid contact with the ground, and gathered up rather than forming a smooth coat.  Is there some wetting problem?

Also, the open vessels appear to have something very dark in them.  Is that just a thick buildup of ground?  Or lighting?

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On 10/22/2017 at 9:47 AM, Don Noon said:

From the reflections, it looks like the clear varnish was trying to avoid contact with the ground, and gathered up rather than forming a smooth coat.  Is there some wetting problem?

Also, the open vessels appear to have something very dark in them.  Is that just a thick buildup of ground?  Or lighting?

Great observations, Don. Believe me that I did test strips before touching the violin, but the violin came out different due to subtle application and production variations. The varnish issue is due to excess essential oil that went unnoticed because I applied the varnish differently (fingers for testing vs. brush for the violin). The second issue is that I skipped a step for making the ground on the violin. Thus, the red component went brown slowly. The brown spots are excess stain pooling in pores and interstices. They should have been red-side orange with a yellow halo. The resulting violin is a red-side brown.

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I am back at the bench. Today, I was re-sawing some spruce and got tired of that. :wacko: So, I turned to grounds. Here are two photos of my latest experiments with ground colors. Earlier feedback was that the color did not penetrate the wood. Well. this color impregnates the wood. The figure has higher contrast. The wide angle shot of the test strip is from an iPhone that has decent color rendition. It's a little on the red side on my monitor and should be more gold. The other high-resolution shot is through a handheld triplet lens.

Again, I do not want to discuss any details until I get feedback from the cognoscenti that I am on the right track. I hope to bring to the next VSA a couple of violins that use this system. All ingredients are historically relevant to Cremonese making. And, yes, there are proteins in this. Moreover, the ground does not burn the wood because the wood contains a lot of the color. In this variation, the flames are enhanced looking very dark.

Again, the photos are of the first two layers in the B&G scheme. The varnish would reside on this.

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Here is a photo of the unvarnished sample in the morning sunlight with a violin as a backdrop. The color of the sample is closer to what I see. However, the violin is super radiant because it has colored varnish. The violin's ground is slightly different than the sample. I notice that a flame's strength depends on the width of the flame. Wide flames are very intense. 

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8 hours ago, Mike Spencer said:

Definitely has nice penetration and even application. Looks good to me but I'm not the expert opinion you are looking for. 

Thanks. Your opinion does matter. I really need to do an entire violin and get feedback from that. So far, my recent violins have been looking pretty good, but not completely Cremonese. So I am working on that. A big issue is that the Cremonese instruments are highly worn. I will not do antiquing because I stink at it.  However, I do highlighting with some success. This lets me show off the ground color. 

2 hours ago, MikeC said:

Does it match the elemental findings of B&G ?   

I try to use B&G as my bible in addition to the works of others such as the French team. The problem is that people interpret these works in the context of their own worldview. Preconceived notions do not die easily including mine. Moreover, there is a lot of "noise" in this field. The protein issue, for example, has led to many deadends for me. I threw them out for optical reasons, but they resurfaced for chemistry reasons. :o Anyhow, I have restricted my research to historically relevant materials; that is, things that were used in north Italy during the Renaissance. I will never claim to have the Cremonese method because there are so many ways to produce what they did. If I am lucky, I will find one of them. Stay tuned. This is a work in progress.

BTW Mike. I like your experiments posted on your workbench thread. Some of those could look better than the Cremonese work. Well, think about that. You have many more materials with which to work. Strad would be jealous. 

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Well in those pictures I used a modern synthetic analog of what I think they may have been using so those samples may be a bit too colorful.   Once I finish my build I'll use the natural version that was available back then, after testing on scraps first of course.   Your samples are looking good so far!   

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Mike, stop peeing in the workshop. :D  The colors are pretty amazing.  Any burning of the flames?  How does your process work on spruce?

-Jim

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9 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Mike, stop peeing in the workshop. :D  The colors are pretty amazing.  Any burning of the flames?  How does your process work on spruce?

-Jim

Do you think beer would help generate chemical stain? :rolleyes:  As for spruce, I will make some samples, but I am in a rush with lots of family needs. The short answer is that it works. The trick is to get the right balance of ingredients/colors. I'm still learning.

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Jim,

I forgot to answer your question about burning the flames. With this water solution, I can take the stain up to the point of burning and back off. Using paper towels I soak up the excess by rewetting the stain. Remember the scene in the "Karate Kid" in which the sensei says "Wipe on. Wipe off." That's how this works.

Last week I went on a tear cleaning up my shop. I filled several garbage cans with varnish experiments.  I threw out almost all of the test strips particularly the spruce strips because they are not as interesting (pretty) as figured maple. However, spruce tells you how close you are to a historical target.  I will look again and post what I find. 

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43 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Jim,

I forgot to answer your question about burning the flames. With this water solution, I can take the stain up to the point of burning and back off. Using paper towels I soak up the excess by rewetting the stain. Remember the scene in the "Karate Kid" in which the sensei says "Wipe on. Wipe off." That's how this works.

Last week I went on a tear cleaning up my shop. I filled several garbage cans with varnish experiments.  I threw out almost all of the test strips particularly the spruce strips because they are not as interesting (pretty) as figured maple. However, spruce tells you how close you are to a historical target.  I will look again and post what I find. 

Ah ha, a clue?  If you can back off the burn then it's not a chemical reaction.  I know your process is not ready for prime time.  Just having a bit of fun.  As for spruce, I find it more difficult to get right, especially because I'm trying to make things work without a sealing the top.  Hoping to have some good discussions this summer.

Cheers,

Jim

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Not sealing the spruce invites glue ghosts from the purfling channel. Maple is less susceptible to glue absorption. I scrape away the glue-bound wood in shaping the channels and edges. 

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2 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Not sealing the spruce invites glue ghosts from the purfling channel. Maple is less susceptible to glue absorption. I scrape away the glue-bound wood in shaping the channels and edges. 

I have the same plan.  I purfle with enough rough wood left that all ghosts are exorcised from the channel with a gouge.     

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Here are some photos of my latest varnish project. The violin has only its ground - no varnish. There is no protein sealer. No chemical oxidizers. All treatments are water-based. 

Notice the knot near the treble f-hole. I used Jerry Pasewicz's idea to fill it in with spackle. What you think is spackle is the wood! 

This spruce is from Kevin Prestwich. There is some hazelfichte below the f-hole. 

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These other two photos reproduce the ground color from a fluorescent on the left and a tungsten on the right. I used an iPhone and think these colors are very close to what I see in the shop. Not bad for a phone!

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For making varnish with a hot plate, I built a digital temperature controller after Don Noon told me about his. The heart of it is the inexpensive display module that controls the range and various details. This is sold on eBay. I added the connectors, outlet, power switch, and case with a bright indicator light to tell me when the power is applied to the hot plate plugged into the back of the cabinet. The temperature probe is rated for 300C. The wiring is for 120 VAC 10 amps.  I will try using it next week when I start making varnish.This little project reminded me of my Heathkit building days when I assembled an oscilloscope and other electronic test equipment. 

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