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Assuming those are all fresh, untreated white wood, I think that's about the best that can be done.  My testing on white wood all looks horrible, and doing something to the wood itself (UV, nitrite, other chemical treatments, thermal processing) has been needed to get visually decent results.  My usual mantra.

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3 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I am experimenting with different compositions to understand how to control colors. Any thoughts?

4amigos.thumb.jpg.b0cf4c83fc96959dbcc8d79474d735f2.jpg

Mike, It might help if you can tell us where these samples fall within your varnish protocol (e.g., ground, ground + first application, etc). General impression from left to right is that 2 and 4 look like washed out versions of 1 and 3, respectively.

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14 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I am experimenting with different compositions to understand how to control colors. Any thoughts?

4amigos.thumb.jpg.b0cf4c83fc96959dbcc8d79474d735f2.jpg

Those are experiments with plant dye stuff, right?

There is certainly an infinitive number of solutions to match the ground with the varnish. Just from the picture I would go with the second from left. However often old Cremonese instruments (if that is what you are aiming at) have a a rather orange looking color in the ground when seen on pictures. So the sample on the left looks good.

In this respect I have to say that I am more and more convinced that the color and depth of ground on old Italians comes from not treating with any colorants. Since I am steaming my wood I found some very interesting results. Colors can range from yellow brown to reddish brown and sometimes with a hint of green. But all shades are dark enough that no further coloration is needed. 
 

From there the coloration of the varnish becomes a different story as well. Even the best colorant can’t really hide the white wood underneath (at least to my experience). So with the color directly from the wood you work on a darker canvas which makes many things all of a sudden much easier. One of the most obvious things is that the color contrast between varnish and ground becomes less what again IMO is just what is desirable.

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On 3/12/2021 at 9:08 PM, Andreas Preuss said:

However often old Cremonese instruments (if that is what you are aiming at) have a a rather orange looking color in the ground when seen on pictures. 

...

In this respect I have to say that I am more and more convinced that the color and depth of ground on old Italians comes from not treating with any colorants. Since I am steaming my wood I found some very interesting results. Colors can range from yellow brown to reddish brown and sometimes with a hint of green. But all shades are dark enough that no further coloration is needed. 

Some things that I think are relevant that I may or may not have mentioned...

I took a sample of my torrefied spruce and a sample of untreated (very white) spruce and put them in the sun for several days.  The fresh spruce darkened and turned orange, and the brownish-tan torrefied spruce lightened and was headed toward orange.  I feel that with further exposure both samples would end up very nearly the same color... orange... or maybe with much more esposure photobleaching would take over.

So although I have not personally examined any orange-tinged Cremonese instruments, I would be suspicious that it might be either a wood conversion effect, or it was polished over with orange shellac.

In any case, we KNOW that old Cremonese wood is quite opaque, meaning the wood has some strong pigmentation that does not exist in fresh wood.  The questions are: what color is it?  and what effect does it have on the appearance?  and does in vary from instrument to instrument?

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Time for me to jump back in.

The four strips are  2 pairs of identical components as Jim noticed . Each pair has one strip painted with an organic (plant) colorant. This is the darker of the pair. The other is a tempera of the organic colorant. The tempera is made with cheese. The tempera is lighter because less colorant is drawn into maple wood. The orange-side pair is with my standard old favorite colorant. The other includes a strong yellow-side colorant added to the old standard. I feel that Preuss' choice is the one I like best as a Cremonese candidate. But I am not done tweaking this.

As Mike noted, there is no colored varnish, just a protective very lean 4:1 clear varnish. I am focusing just on the ground color.

Now, Noon says a couple of imporant things. Aging is the joker in this card deck. My samples are not several hundred years old, but they were blasted with a lot of UV that fades natural organic colors. I think the experts who work on Cremonese instruments can spot indications of a new, fresh Cremonese ground. So, I depend upon them to steer me to the right color. When I started on this endeavor I thought it was yellow, but now see it is more orange in the flames while light yellow on the surface, but the yellow sometimes has faded leaving more of the orange in place. Colorant in the flames is better protected from oxidation. FWIW, French polishing is not an issue.

Finally, I haven't said anything about this, but I refer to Brandmair's chemical (element) detections. I think I get everything that she reported in B&G because they are in what I use and in large quantities. I don't use anything that contains something she has not detected in important concentrations for Strads. The idea of photobleaching does not add what she has detected. My simple color stain does.

 

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  • 3 months later...

I’m back at the bench varnishing the Coronaviolin. First, I’m working on adjusting the wood stain. Here are some photos. The lighting is a combination of a 6500K fluorescent overhead and a small ~4700K bench light. Camera is an iPhone 11 Pro. I’m halfway done with staining and burnishing. In a few days I will put on the ground varnish.

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22DA1165-3029-43E3-8C91-462B45046280.jpeg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here is the same stain off steroids, namely toned down (no pun.) Chemically the same but I applied it in many diluted coats to work it into the flames. Potassium caseinate overcoats the stain and contains some talc ground that researchers think is present. Optically, the caseinate wets the stained wood making it "pop". The talc rubble does nothing but fills voids which is one purpose of a ground, namely smooth the surface. On top of this I put on a very thin coat of a clear varnish that has just a hint of green meeting B&G's findings. My green tint might be too insipid. I think it does nothing. 

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I took this photo under a hot fluorescent ceiling lamp. The paper is white, so you should adjust your monitor to make it pure white.

 

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On 9/5/2021 at 5:31 AM, Andreas Preuss said:

 I am not sure if Cremonese ground started on white wood. 

I too am not sure what they started with either... but it sure isn't white now.

Let me know when it is determined positively whether it's natural aging or something else.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I posted this photo on FaceBook of the new Coronaviolin belly. It is Engelman Spruce from Kevin Prestwich log 1601 resawn by me and torrefied by @Don Noon almost two years ago. The photo taken in diffuse sunlight on a white chair makes the plate darker than it is.

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So just now I photographed it again on my bench with overhead lights.  Looks like a different plate.

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The plate weighs a little under 60 g w/o bass bar.

 

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