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Why were Strad's wood pores as wide open as Sacconi claimed?


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Hi,

 

In his book about Strad's violins, Sacconi emphasized the openness of the wood's pores, even after application of the silicate and application of the varnish layers. Am I correct about this?

 

Do you suppose that the opening of the pores was very likely a coincidental or spinoff result when Strad was chasing a quite different craft goal, or set of craft goals? What could it, or they, have been?

 

What sequence of today's chemical tricks might work to open the pores? Something resulting in in-situ Aqua Regia?

 

otter

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Hi,

 

In his book about Strad's violins, Sacconi emphasized the openness of the wood's pores, even after application of the silicate and application of the varnish layers. Am I correct about this?

 

Do you suppose that the opening the pores was very likely a coincidental or spinoff result when Strad was chasing a quite different craft goal, or set of craft goals? What could it, or they, have been?

 

What sequence of today's chemical tricks might work to open the pores? Something resulting in in-situ Aqua Regia?

 

otter

otter,

No doubt that we see open pores on classical Cremonese instruments.  This is collaborated by the research Brigitte Brandmair did for the Stradivari Varnish book.  To achieve this in modern work you need to use a ground which does not cap these openings.  Follow this with a varnish which does not self-level.

on we go,

Joe

post-6284-0-65050500-1411923605_thumb.jpg

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Joe and Jezzupe,

 

Here is some more information:  Sacconi claimed that a "process of oxidation" was somehow involved in Strad's ground system.

 

I believe that such a process worked in part to attack or, as Joe might say, worked in part to uncap the pores by reacting with certain of the more reactive chemicals that are naturally present in the wood.

 

I think Aqua Regia (oxidizer) and sugar (reducing agent) were deliberately reacted at the wood's surface. One result was the further unnatural opening of the surface pores.

 

Meanwhile, the unreacted sugar yet remaining within the wood's interior served as a sealer, per Jezzupe.

 

otter

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Joe and Jezzupe,

 

Here is some more information:  Sacconi claimed that a "process of oxidation" was somehow involved in Strad's ground system.

 

I believe that such a process worked in part to attack or, as Joe might say, worked in part to uncap the pores by reacting with certain of the more reactive chemicals that are naturally present in the wood.

 

I think Aqua Regia (oxidizer) and sugar (reducing agent) were deliberately reacted at the wood's surface. One result was the further unnatural opening of the surface pores.

 

Meanwhile, the unreacted sugar yet remaining within the wood's interior served as a sealer, per Jezzupe.

 

otter

Jeeze Louise!!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_regia  I would not expect a violin maker to be meddling with something like this, particularly because the process would do a lot more to the wood than open the pores, and the reagents as well as the by-products would be extremely dangerous.   I've worked with strong acids, and I guarantee you it's scary  Sugar is not a proper reducing agent for this, either, rather more of a fuel...............

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Violadamore,

 

But fuels ARE reducing agents. 

 

Also, something akin to Aquar Regia would be used but only by getting there with two or more steps that provide the necessary ions for Aqua Regia. I do agree with you that Aqua Regia if used and applied as one reagent solution would certainly be inadvisable ! ! !

 

Another procedural step to contemplate is what I call flame polishing, or simply passing the chemically treated wood back and forth near an open fire.

 

otter

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Violadamore,

 

But fuels ARE reducing agents. 

 

Also, something akin to Aquar Regia would be used but only by getting there with two or more steps that provide the necessary ions for Aqua Regia. I do agree with you that Aqua Regia if used and applied as one reagent solution would certainly be inadvisable ! ! !

 

Another procedural step to contemplate is what I call flame polishing, or simply passing the chemically treated wood back and forth near an open fire.

 

otter

Oh, goody!  That might carbonize the sugar even more directly, particularly if you'd managed to generate nitro or chlorate compounds in the previous steps.  What has you hung up on nitric and hydrochloric acids anyway?  Wouldn't something less taxing on the experimenter make more sense, like a moderate bleaching agent?

 

"Otter".....rings a bell somewhere.....you ever in a frat at Faber College?  B)  :ph34r:

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And to think that I originally peeked in here just to suggest that Strad scrubbed his wood with acne medications, and then go spread joy elsewhere  :lol:

 

 

Keep it simple.

 

OK

Amen.  BTW, I doubt if Strad treated his wood with liquid gases, hydrofluoric acid, cyanides, or any harder radiation than natural, sunny-day UV, either.   ;)

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Violadamore,

 

Per studies of the Cremonese wood mineralization, I also have silicon, boron, and aluminum ions present, plus very low hydrogen concentration present, so that sugar carbonization or wood charring is unlikely.

 

My approach flows from an experiment I did years ago, when I combined some sugar and some aluminum chloride in a glass of dilute waterglass, only to discover a spectacular rainbow of colors when looking through the tilted glass to the afternoon sun.

 

otter

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"I think Aqua Regia (oxidizer) and sugar (reducing agent) were deliberately reacted at the wood's surface. One result was the further unnatural opening of the surface pores."

 

Without some kind of historical evidence for the use of Aqua Regia on wood, your opinions are just wild speculation at best. Perhaps you should get in touch with Nagavary.

Nitric acid on wood does very nasty things if it isn't neutralized properly. It's also very nasty stuff to work with.

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Doug,

 

Thanks for weighing in. I should have been more careful in expressing myself. Chloride and nitrate ions (not Aqua Regia per se) must IMO be used but they are of course harmful if not neutralized properly. I'm assuming three quite different chemical steps were used to build up the ground. I've tried every two-step approach I can think of. Sacconi wrote about taking multiple steps. It would be foolish to contend my approach, or his, is identical to what the Cremonese were up to.

 

otter

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It almost sounds like Otter is talking about aqua fortis for which there is plenty of historic precedent for it's use on wood during the 1700's.   It was  a common gun stock finish.  Applied to the wood and then the wood passed over hot coals (not fire)  the finish turns a nice red and pops the maple curls really nice without burning the chatoyance and it doesn't damage the wood but then gun stocks don't generally have any acoustic uses.     But Strad and the boys didn't use that.  Also pores are open anyway, that's why they are pores. 

 

Someone's been making too much hemp ash. 

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Folks,

 

The Italians probably used the salts of potassium nitrate and ammonium chloride, even if they didn't use toxic hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, or aqua regia. Look again at Joe's thumbnail picture above. It seems the Cremonese must have concocted a very simple and safe yet rather aggressive method for opening those pores as much as Sacconi saw and claimed, no?

 

Now then: To what end did they do all this? What were their craft goals for each chemical step in building up the ground system?

 

otter

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Folks,

 

The Italians probably used the salts of potassium nitrate and ammonium chloride

"And now what, Maestro?"

Reaching into a cage at his feet, Stradivari removed the fat, floppy-eared, vigorously struggling inhabitant, and passed it to the apprentice.

"Now you lean over the fiddle, and hug the bunny real hard."  :lol:  :ph34r:

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Joe and Jezzupe,

 

Here is some more information:  Sacconi claimed that a "process of oxidation" was somehow involved in Strad's ground system.

 

otter

I had forgotten Sacconi's intuition about the ground and oxidation....thanks for the reminder.  I also believe that oxidation is an integral part of the ground process.  However this is not the rapid oxidation related to aqua fortis or similar materials.  Rapid oxidation will give [literally] a toasted color, but I have not seen any evidence that it promotes the open wood structure we are discussing.

Joe

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he did not use sugar and he did not use a filler.     Joe,  haven't I read somewhere that the varnish is self healing,  it will take a finger print and then it will fade away?  Wouldn't that mean self leveling or not?  

My introduction of sugar alone as a ground coat was introduced here prior to Bruce Tai's electro-microscopic analysis of Strad varnish. To the best of my recollection his findings on the layer closest to the wood was described as a "nano crystal matrix" aside from that it was stated that this material seemed to block the penetration of the oil based varnish from passing this layer.

 

Now, you stating "it's not sugar" is as logical as me stating that it is. The facts are that no one at this time has any definitive answer. 

 

But I would ask you and anyone here this series of questions.

 

1. was intentional nano technology available during Strads life....that's pretty easy...no

 

2.besides sugar or salts what material could someone from 1770 something nanoize by doing so "unintentionally" {and or not knowing the science behind it} by simply adding water to it or reducing it in some other manner?

 

3. besides sugar or salt what material can be transformed into a nano sized crystal using non complex modern methods

 

4.of the two, sugar or salt, which one forms connectivity to other molocules? and or a matrix?

 

5.besides sugar , what other crystal forms connectivity without a separate binder, one that would show up under magnification?

 

6. when sugar is melted into a paper towel with water and then allowed to dry, when oil is placed on top of the spot of dry sugar does it pass through the sugar?...answer...no

 

7.what crystal is there besides sugar that can naturally be reduced down to the size of 1 nanometer by adding water and then can dry and form a shell with molecules so tightly connected that oil can not pass thru it

 

Personally I feel there's much more in the way of argument for sugar than against it. I did quite a bit of research, reading and found sugar used in recipes rarely but NEVER sugar suggested alone.

 

Dropping acid on my fiddle is not my idea of a good time, I like my ugly face the way it is.

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My introduction of sugar alone as a ground coat was introduced here prior to Bruce Tai's electro-microscopic analysis of Strad varnish. To the best of my recollection his findings on the layer closest to the wood was described as a "nano crystal matrix" aside from that it was stated that this material seemed to block the penetration of the oil based varnish from passing this layer.

 

Now, you stating "it's not sugar" is as logical as me stating that it is. The facts are that no one at this time has any definitive answer. 

 

But I would ask you and anyone here this series of questions.

 

1. was intentional nano technology available during Strads life....that's pretty easy...no

 

2.besides sugar or salts what material could someone from 1770 something nanoize by doing so "unintentionally" {and or not knowing the science behind it} by simply adding water to it or reducing it in some other manner?

 

3. besides sugar or salt what material can be transformed into a nano sized crystal using non complex modern methods

 

4.of the two, sugar or salt, which one forms connectivity to other molocules? and or a matrix?

 

5.besides sugar , what other crystal forms connectivity without a separate binder, one that would show up under magnification?

 

6. when sugar is melted into a paper towel with water and then allowed to dry, when oil is placed on top of the spot of dry sugar does it pass through the sugar?...answer...no

 

7.what crystal is there besides sugar that can naturally be reduced down to the size of 1 nanometer by adding water and then can dry and form a shell with molecules so tightly connected that oil can not pass thru it

 

Personally I feel there's much more in the way of argument for sugar than against it. I did quite a bit of research, reading and found sugar used in recipes rarely but NEVER sugar suggested alone.

 

Dropping acid on my fiddle is not my idea of a good time, I like my ugly face the way it is.

 

A very good series of questions, to which a few more might be added. The one that best comes to mind is; in the 15th century what kind of sugar were they using? In fact whatever materials were available MUST have been available and in regular use long before 1550; probably a long long time before. As for 'dropping acid' my generation would probably say, in your mouth not on your face.

One thing that should also be mentioned is that the ground colour of most classical Cremonese instruments is neither toasted or yellow, it is often very light. Yes it has some colour, but it is never as intense as most people tend to believe.    

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One thing that should also be mentioned is that the ground colour of most classical Cremonese instruments is neither toasted or yellow, it is often very light. Yes it has some colour, but it is never as intense as most people tend to believe.    

Right, modern maker try to have darker ground than the classical instruments have (with some exceptions like the "Cristiani" Strad)

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I will agree that oxidation chemicals can be used. JOHA® Antique stain 421 is one example. It's a sodium nitrite solution, and is mostly used (as far as I know) for repair work, matching newer wood to old. I've used it, and it artificially "tans" the wood to look old. I've never noticed any grain opening properties aside from the fact that it's water based.

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Joe and Jezzupe,

 

 

 

I believe that such a process worked in part to attack or, as Joe might say, worked in part to uncap the pores by reacting with certain of the more reactive chemicals that are naturally present in the wood.

 

I think Aqua Regia (oxidizer) and sugar (reducing agent) were deliberately reacted at the wood's surface. One result was the further unnatural opening of the surface pores.

 

I don't see anything "unnatural" about the pores. It's a normal artifact of some varnishing processes on normal wood, and doesn't require any chemical treatment.

 

Early on, I entered a lesser competition in which I was heavily penalized for "pin-holing" in the varnish. Oh well. :D

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