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I've been asking about this too...and have never received a definitive answer (and I'm sure there is one).

 

Why the bright orange varnish?

 

It doesn't seem to be quite as rampant as it was a few years ago...but I'm still seeing it.  I purchased an Eastman LV80 about 3 years ago as a back up - and I have to say, for the price it was good introductory level instrument - but I was put off by the colour - to the point I traded it in.  I am also put off by bright yellow violins and I find a lot of new/amateur makers seem to gravitate towards an overly yellow varnish.  Anyone think they know why?

 

It seems mostly inexpensive violins are bright orange - although I've seen it on more expensive ones as well.  I was wondering if there was a deliberate movement to colour-code violins at one point?  Orange = cheap?

 

Then I was wondering if it might have anything to do with colour blindness (at least originally).  Since colour blindness is predominant in men...and men predominate in violin varnishing...well...take it from there... :rolleyes:

 

 

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I think many amateurs wind up with the fluorescent varnish, because that's how the generic varnish companies make their off the shelf product. I've seen bright lemon yellow varnish and blaze orange too; which is fine if you take your violin big game hunting in the bush.

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I know nothing about the orange, but bright yellow sometimes results from non-light fast reds in the varnish. I've experienced that. A fresh coat of varnish is a nice red-brown. By the time it is dry in the sun or uv box the red is gone leaving just yellow. I've encountered this with commercial varnish that was given to me and with commercial coloring materials. I no longer use those products.

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A bright, monochromatic orange varnish is easy to do.  Frankly, most of us [me included] did this as our first violin varnish.  Violin makers early varnishes are almost always too orange and too pale.

A deep complex orange is not easy...but it is quite beautiful when it is done well.  Carlo Bergonzi's work is the ultimate for this varnish.

Joe

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There is a book out from about 5-10 years ago titled "Colour" by Victoria Finlay.  I can't find my copy anywhere, but you might try to find a copy and check out the chapter on "orange" and Cremonese instruments.  If I find mine in the next day or so I'll give a little report on it.

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proper grounding? 

 

MikeC,

It is a matter of degree.  The more translucent the varnish, the more it is affected by the wood/ground color beneath it.  ie. a varnish with a high degree of pigment covers up and takes over the color impression of the surface.

Joe

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So - if you wanted a really dark brown violin (but not an opaque one that looks black...just that rich dark brown that still shows the grain)...how do you go about it?

 

Rue,

First step: a WELL suntanned instrument, using the real sun.  Over that a transparent ground with [probably] a bit of gold colorant.  Then gold varnish, then brown varnish...both translucent varnishes.

Joe

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Yes, It's almost impossible to get the same intensity in UV box, but northerners have to live with that this time of the year.

 

PeterKG,

True.  However using the sun you do not get the surface degradation that comes with long term, high intensity UV exposure.  I find it better to sun tan and then adjust the ground color as I apply the ground.

Joe

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Rue,

First step: a WELL suntanned instrument, using the real sun.  Over that a transparent ground with [probably] a bit of gold colorant.  Then gold varnish, then brown varnish...both translucent varnishes.

Joe

Of course! Start with a tan! Makes perfect sense! : D

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Forgive my ignorance, but I'd thought that the "orange" one tries for is supposed to be the result of red over a yellow undercoat.  Am I totally fouled up here?  Some guidance would be appreciated :) .

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Forgive my ignorance, but I'd thought that the "orange" one tries for is supposed to be the result of red over a yellow undercoat.  Am I totally fouled up here?  Some guidance would be appreciated :) .

In my opinion, a "great" orange or red varnish appears yellow in a thin coat, and builds up to an orange or red as the coating gets thicker. I'm not a proponent of trying to apply deliberately different color layers. Not that it can't work, but I don't think that's what the Cremonese did.

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