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


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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

David,

Perhaps a refrain on this varnish method?  Did you see the back of Rainer Beilharz' silver medal cello?

Joe

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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.    

I brought up the implications of early impure sugar in a "ground" thread a looooong time ago.   To answer Jezzupe's questions in a single word, silicates.  Italy has also long been a center for glass production, back to at least Roman times, so the raw materials were available in late medieval and Renaissance Italy..  As to which is correct, maybe they used both sugar polymers and precipitated silicates.  In respect to the latter, it involves solution and precipitant additives such as dilute lyes (various corrosive alkalies) and vinegar (or other weak organic acids) which would open the pores without doing the massive damage associated with strong acids.

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Did Tai analyse Strads?  I thought he just compiled info from  previous studies?    There are studies that did not find anything even remotely resembling crystals.   

 

 

MikeC,

Bruce Tai's work brought together a lot of previous information into one document...I do not think any original resarch was done for that paper.

 

 

I brought up the implications of early impure sugar in a "ground" thread a looooong time ago.   To answer Jezzupe's questions in a single word, silicates.  Italy has also long been a center for glass production, back to at least Roman times, so the raw materials were available in late medieval and Renaissance Italy..  As to which is correct, maybe they used both sugar polymers and precipitated silicates.  In respect to the latter, it involves solution and precipitant additives such as dilute lyes (various corrosive alkalies) and vinegar (or other weak organic acids) which would open the pores without doing the massive damage associated with strong acids.

Violadamore,

The potassium silicate in the micro graphs is likely due to the use of horsetail as an abrasive.  The practice was to soak in a mild lye solution to soften the reeds.  Aluminum silicate is part of the lake making process.

Joe

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H

 

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.

Honey was the common man's sugar. Sugarcane apparently didn't become common until the 18th century.

 

Excerpt from Wikipedia: "In India, between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the famous "reeds that produce honey without bees". They adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture.[3] A few merchants began to trade in sugar—a luxury and an expensive spice until the 18th century. Before the 18th century, cultivation of sugar cane was largely confined to India."

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MikeC,

Bruce Tai's work brought together a lot of previous information into one document...I do not think any original resarch was done for that paper.

 

 

Violadamore,

The potassium silicate in the micro graphs is likely due to the use of horsetail as an abrasive.  The practice was to soak in a mild lye solution to soften the reeds.  Aluminum silicate is part of the lake making process.

Joe

Yup, we had this same dance over a year ago, and i agreed that your suggestion holds water.  This entire ground business is starting to resemble those parts of Belgium where one can dig for WW I curios and turn up everything from flint lanceheads to ration shucks from last week's NATO exercise.  We've been at this a while, and it seems to go nowhere....... :lol:   Bye.  :)

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H

 

Honey was the common man's sugar. Sugarcane apparently didn't become common until the 18th century.

 

Excerpt from Wikipedia: "In India, between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the famous "reeds that produce honey without bees". They adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture.[3] A few merchants began to trade in sugar—a luxury and an expensive spice until the 18th century. Before the 18th century, cultivation of sugar cane was largely confined to India."

 

Not to question the authority of Wikipedia, but I think that quote is misleading.  In the medieval period, sugar cane was cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, including in Andalusia (Southern Spain) and Sicily.  It is one of the first crops established by Europeans colonizing the Caribbean in the 16th century.  I think the article should say that the vast majority of sugar cane was grown in India before the 18th century (which is true), and that it became much less expensive with the establishment of the "triangle trade" in the 18th century ("common" enough that European lower classes could afford it), but it would have been available for violin making in the 16th century, especially in Italy. 

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H

 

Honey was the common man's sugar. Sugarcane apparently didn't become common until the 18th century.

 

Excerpt from Wikipedia: "In India, between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the famous "reeds that produce honey without bees". They adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture.[3] A few merchants began to trade in sugar—a luxury and an expensive spice until the 18th century. Before the 18th century, cultivation of sugar cane was largely confined to India."

I feel that refined sugar was probably available in very small quantities and was probably quite expensive, however as you suggest natural sugars like honey and fruit sugars would be plentiful and common. As we know they work quite nicely if glassed prior to use. I'm working on a fig sauce that is high in sugar, high in natural color that should be interesting. I want my fiddle to "tune in and drop out" :lol:  Really want to work with beets also

 

Our resident Carlo Bartolini, being somewhat modest, is actually quite the researcher and at this point in time knows quite a bit about trade routes, availabilities of things in the area, I've actually never seen someone get so into something as Carlo did with this subject, he knows very many things about these trade routes, priests, Jesuits, dyes, pigments, materials, recipes and so on. His multilingual talents come in very handy with this type of research, when I have a question about the olden days, I go to the Encyclopedia Bartolini'tanica

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I tried ammonia as a reducer/dispersant and used molasses as the sugar in a silly test... You can see the migration of the molasses into the ammonia before mixing (1 part molasses 2 parts ammonia)

On wood, the grain is more pronounced and looks like it's 100 years old (golden light brown) the surface looks like it has a tack coat on it.  I did not try an aggressive heat to firm it up

Conclusion.. I have no idea whether this is a good idea for a ground coat... I did lay down a coat of oil varnish and on the test piece it looks quite nice, how long it will last .... is up in the air.

Under the varnish there is a vary slight translucence that would look nice on a table top, or something similar. 

Jim  

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Not to question the authority of Wikipedia, but I think that quote is misleading.  In the medieval period, sugar cane was cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, including in Andalusia (Southern Spain) and Sicily.  It is one of the first crops established by Europeans colonizing the Caribbean in the 16th century.  I think the article should say that the vast majority of sugar cane was grown in India before the 18th century (which is true), and that it became much less expensive with the establishment of the "triangle trade" in the 18th century ("common" enough that European lower classes could afford it), but it would have been available for violin making in the 16th century, especially in Italy. 

I recall reading this too, when I was researching rum. However, I'm not sure if they were producing a refined sugar at that time, or molasses.

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I brought up the implications of early impure sugar in a "ground" thread a looooong time ago.   To answer Jezzupe's questions in a single word, silicates.  Italy has also long been a center for glass production, back to at least Roman times, so the raw materials were available in late medieval and Renaissance Italy..  As to which is correct, maybe they used both sugar polymers and precipitated silicates.  In respect to the latter, it involves solution and precipitant additives such as dilute lyes (various corrosive alkalies) and vinegar (or other weak organic acids) which would open the pores without doing the massive damage associated with strong acids.

 I think waterglass is the only thing that would meet that criteria.  I agree that I don't think acids were used, I think the evidence would be clear under magnification, the destruction of the lignin and softer cells would seem apparent. 

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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.    

I agree, we see this in the golden underglow with the color seemingly mostly in the upper varnish layers. Groovy!

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Has anyone ever experimented with beet juice? It would have significant sugar.

 

In the Stradivari Varnish book they mentioned of an unknown stain layer. I wonder if faded out beet juice would meet this criteria?

While we're at it:  Has anyone ever experimented with grape juice?  I think they have it in Italy.

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Thanks Jezzupe, I wish I was as good as you wrote. :)

 

I know very little about sugar, except that I love it, but I'll try.

 

Besides India, sugar also came from Madeira and the Canaries.

 

Sugar from the Americas was being sold by florentine merchants in the 1530's in small amounts, most likely not in Italy at first, a not well refined sugar of dark color, which was usually refined in Seville, by 1545 commerce increased, the sugar which arrived at the Tuscan coast at that time was mostly from the Dominican Republic and Mexico , the later preferred,  the sugars from the Antillian region where classified in 5 kinds, please excuse translation errors.

 

White - purity grade 100%

Broken - 25% impurity

Raw - 33% impurity

Frothed - 50% impurity

Panelas (most likely pot) - 50% impurity

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I know very little about sugar but I'll try.

 

Sugar from the Americas was being sold by florentine merchants in the 1530's in small amounts, most likely not in Italy at first, a not well refined sugar or darker color, which was usually refined in Seville, by 1545 commerce increased, the sugar which arrived at the Tuscan coast at that time was mostly from the Dominican Republic and Mexico , the later preferred,  it was classified in 5 kinds according to a letter dated 1545, please excuse translation errors.

 

White - purity grade 100%

Broken - 25% impurity

Raw - 33% impurity

Frothed - 50% impurity

Panelas (most likely pot) - 50% impurity

See what I mean :D

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While we're at it:  Has anyone ever experimented with grape juice?  I think they have it in Italy.

Yes, extensively. I primarily used grape slag from a local winery. The anthocyanins which show as strong purple are fugitive and eventually settle to a light golden brown. Alone it has limited uv resitance, fixed however, it has more staying power. It generally settles into a nice mild base brown.

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Has anyone ever experimented with beet juice? It would have significant sugar.

 

In the Stradivari Varnish book they mentioned of an unknown stain layer. I wonder if faded out beet juice would meet this criteria?

Working with Figs right now, beets and plums are on the menu coming up, worse case if it doesn't work on wood as a sealer, you've got a tasty base for a sauce :D

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Can a hot solution of calcium chloride be used to open the wood's pores to an unnatural extent?

 

otter

Unatural? I don't know, I think each piece of wood will have its own characteristics. All wood pores will open when water is applied, the extent is dictated by the characteristics of that particular piece and species. We could take 2 different pieces of wood and apply water to them, the extent of openness would probably vary piece to piece. It is best to not let one picture of one fiddle determine finality as there is so much variation in my opinion. 

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