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Thanks Christian and Ernie...


The varnish is Joe Robson's... this time I just used sun, tea (Earl Grey for those interested) and boiled walnut husk tincture as stain.


Then I used Joe's "balsam ground."  then his "Greek pitch Rose" and "Greek Pitch Brown" mixed together... 2 coats, this time dabbed on with brush and moved around with fingers.  I never before had a comfort level with thick varnish dabbed on, but I now think I'll never go back to the solvent/brush method again.


After the 2 color coats are on, wearing off (as described in the recent Strad articles by Jeff Phillips and Antoine Nedelec and adjustment of color.  The special sauce of dirt overlay... over polished with a very thin coat of blonde shellac...



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I'm a bit startled by how red the additional photos look... it must be the incandescent light source...

Its not that red...


I really like the red, even if it's not real.  If the violin color in the shop picture is acurate, you really nailed the antique look!  Great shop, but you might be introuble from the neat police. :)



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Thanks everyone for the kind words... really appreciate it.


My wife called me "anal" within days of our first date years ago!  I do like a clean shop :)


MikeS the reason I overpolished the oil finish with blonde shellac is to deal with this "problem" in antiquing.


As described in the last 2 issues of the Strad magazine, part of the appearance of age is created by a patinated dirt layer that is in the small dips, scratches, dings, dents, spruce washboard etc.


Here's a nice photo of an instrument by Jeff Phillips that compares the look of a new copy to an old instrument.  (amazing, if you ask me!)


This "patinated dirt" could be comprised of a lot of things, I expect, but I used tube colors like ivory black, burnt sienna, phthalo blue, and so on till the mixed up pigments looked like a greyish brown (not too black) dirt.


Then I spatula applied this dirt all over the instrument, and wiped it off with plain writing paper.  The technique is briefly shown here in a video about Marco Coppiardi... go to 7:20 and see the process.





After this linseed oil carried dirt layer has dried well you'll see a "differential gloss" between areas that have a dry oil layer vs those where the varnish is more untouched.  A shellac overpolish allows this gloss differential to be made even all over the instrument.  More importantly, I think, it locks the dirt in place and renders it more transparent.


On Christian Bayon's making thread I asked a question about what he uses to lock these pigments in place, and as you see he says he uses alcohol/oil to do it, but doesn't use any resin in the polish.  I've not tried it that way.


I know there's a hostility to shellac in some circles that is very intense.  All I know is that shellac sticks to just about anything amazingly well and you can violate the "fat over lean" rule within limits without problems.  And, to be clear, the amount of actual shellac applied with this over polish is trivial.  I don't know that I could measure the thickness of this layer, but we're talking a few drops of a 2 pound cut french polished over the surface area of the entire instrument, with most of the shellac remaining in the applicator. 


Best regards,


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Ernie, I like it a lot, especially the varnish. If I may be allowed a little critique: I like the outline of your viola, and I like the del gesu-esque f holes, but I think they don't fit together very well. The outline looks very friendly, round and full, and, especially in the upper corner and upper bout region, rather broad. These f holes however, to my eyes, stress the length much more than the width (which might have been good but in this case somehow contrasts in a negative way) and on top of that always look a little agressive and therefore doesn't seem to fit. I feel that the wide year rings of the top wood fit very well with the outline, but for some reason contradict the f holes. But I'm only a cellist, not much of an expert in aesthetics of violin making. I hope others will disagree with me.

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"little critiques" are always welcome.  The littler the better! :)


I'm struggling to understand your comments on the f holes.  I'm certainly not married to them... as you observe, I played around with a Del Gesu gestalt for the body outline, adding width to the mid bouts in the way of the little Guadagnini viola everyone copies.  Then I chose f holes that were proportionally longer than would be true for a scaled up violin, because I've repeatedly bumped into advice that a longer unsupported mid section of the top plate between the f holes helps give the lower frequencies some support, which is a good thing in small violas?  The late period stylized Del Gesu f holes... do they look aggressive to you?  Interesting.  Could you post a photo of the kind of f holes that you think would work better visually?  (Hidden agenda... I've started another identical model and would love suggestions).



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Ernie, it is difficult to quantify, to say exactly why I feel they don't fit the model. It is more of a feeling. I'l ponder a bit more on it and will let you know if I come to any conclusions anyone could use practically. I do think it has something to do wit the steepness of the wings. They, to me, accentuate the length of the f hole (which is not a very large f hole) rather than the width of it, which for some reason contrasts in a negative way with the rest of the instruments design. But really its probably just me.

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