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FredN

Alkannin as an inst colorant

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The piece of spruce topwood shown in the attachment that I found hidden on my workbench has some interesting and possibly valuable information regards staining. The piece was stained with alkannin, the dye found in Alcannin tinctoria, a common weed in the Mediterranean region. In the photo, the lined off section on the right the dye was dissolved in boiled linseed oil. Present day boiled linseed oil has cobalt and manganese for driers, lead was used in early times. The other lined off parts to the left were stained with alkannin dissolved in turpentine. Although the ground preparations are different, the boiled linseed oil part was pumice, the middle pumice and a rusty knife for iron, the far left pumice rubbed with a piece of copper, any metals present in staining would only affect color. At the time I did this, June 02, I was in the varnish learning stage, trying anything. What is interesting is the difference in staining with turp or oil with dye. Note the right section dyed with alkannin and boiled linseed oil is not similar as the other sections stained with turp and alkannin.  Dye and oil seems to only stain the narrow winter or slow growth period of a year's growth, however, turpentine, also alcohol, with alkannin, seem to also stain some of the rapid summer growth period. Going through some of the VSA journals  that show the topwood of Amati's and Strad's only have the winter portion stained, none of the summer. My problem was the   times I tried oil and dye when I was first learning ended in disaster, further varnish coats would remain tacky and the inst had to be stripped. I found dissolving the dye in alcohol instead of oil eliminated the problem. Adding a metal to the varnish would generate color in a week or so with no tack problems. My use of oil with dye failures I'm pretty sure were probably due to careless application of oil, or applying further coats too soon. 

Some conclusions are possible- the piece of wood sat in sunlight most of those years, attesting to the durability of alkannin, and if the plant was used in early times, oil was the solvent, not turpentine or alcohol. Why the difference in staining with these different solvents could be merely due to penetration of the carriers of the dye. When you review any literature on inst coloration, rarely is Alcannin ever mentioned, so its use is highly questionable. Yet is so easy to use you have to imagine makers were aware of this. Grind up the shaved root in a coffee mill, add to oil, turpentine or alcohol, and a metal to color, stain the wood or add it to your varnish. Lots of  ways to use. I know most mentioned here is a stretch of data, but there is some validity.

post-24779-0-05811400-1432335659_thumb.jpg

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Should have mentioned that Alcannin can be bought at Kremers Pigment (listed as Alkanet in the catalog). The Kilogram amount would probably be a lifetime supply.

 

It is not as red as shown. It makes a  typical inst color. I can't figure out what I did to my multi-gadgeted  camera.     

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Walter, the background is a text page, and it should be white which will give you a little idea of the added red color. I'll try again for another photo outside.

 

Joe, I think it is lightfast, especially under a varnish. I got sassed once before for stating it is used to color organic lipstick for those that don't want any synthetic stuff on  their mouth. I don't think industry would use it if it were unstable.

 

Hi Stephen, I don't think there is synthetic dye similar to alcannin.  In some parts re the structure of the molecule, it is similar to alizarin.

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Walter, I think the attached photo is pretty close to actual color. Keep in mind I  add burnt umber to my rosin varnish to turn the dye to very dark brown. I also add some logwood to get some black in the mix. I don't like inst's  that are red brown.

post-24779-0-62204700-1432588979_thumb.jpg

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What is so interesting  is the difference in what is stained using turp or oil, and the similarity to what is stained on some Cremonese inst's using oil.  If you're trying to mimic old finishes, this is something to keep in mind.

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Gunstock makers and refinishers use it.

It's a long thread,,,but it keeps coming back around.

Old English makers used to use it,(gunstocks).

It it a familiar color of English fiddles?

http://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=215&page=1

I've already ordered the root and the seeds.

a bit hard to find the seeds.

Thanks Fred,

Evan

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I mixed up a couple of alcohol tinctures about two years ago and have let them sit in a south facing window since.  The Alkanet was about one teaspoon of powder to 4 oz of alcohol and still is almost black in the jar while some of the others are almost completely bleached out.

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