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Brown color for spirit varnish


Levin
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Hi,

I write because I'm trying to extract the brown color for my spirit varnish (I don't want to use aniline).

I tried to extract the color from caramel: I made the caramel and then I put the caramel in the alcohol but caramel is not soluble in alcohol. The alcohol dissolves very little caramel and the result is an alcohol very little brown colored and this colored alcohol il not enough for coloring the varnish.

Then I tried to substitute the water with the alcohol 99° in the coffee making process. In this case I had little success: the process was too fast and the alcohol was little colorful. I tried with alcohol at 90 ° and the process went better but the color was too light.

I finally extracted brown from the catechu: the color is beautiful but maybe too opaque. Can anyone advise me on what to use to make a good brown color in spirit varnish?

Thank you

Levin

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Before you set yourself and your coffeemaker on fire, try using small amounts of artist's oil paints dissolved in your stock unpigmented spirit varnish (or shellac, if you use that).  That's how I make my touch-up varnishes.  An aluminum artist's palette with the many little bowl-shaped depressions in it can be useful for getting exact matches.  :)

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One of the best and easiest browns to get is from "wood tar" and or resin from pipes. Tobacco or hemp pipes or even chimney soot that builds up in a fireplace. I like hemp the best, Simply soak a pipe in some alc and it will melt the resin, then strain the alc and mix with spirit. Hemp,tobacco or chimney soot can be used straight with alc as a tincture stain that cold be used straight on wood, but must be careful as it can be a very strong color that can "burn" the grain, light, dilute washes can add a nice brown color. Sugar or caramel does not melt into alc very well, miscible but not too extractable. Also coffee, tea, tobacco, leaves, wood barks, nut hulls and other brown things can be soaked in alc to extract colors and then mixed with spirit to make color varnish or to use as a color wash, similar to a tea wash. Resin washes with alc are quite lightfast , may change some over time, but last based on carbon being a large component. Natural creosotes work very well, always do samples, never experiment on the work, good luck
 

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Hi,

Thank you all for the ideas and suggestions that you gave me. Surely I will try Logwood, Indian Rosewood and "wood tar" and or resin from pipes.

 

For ~ Ben Conover: In my spirit varnish I have seedlac, sandarac, ruby shellac, elemi and benzoin. The varnish is light orange but this depends on the quality of ruby shellac.

 

Levin

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Sounds like quite a nice spirit varnish actually.
I'd not add too much gum Benzoin, smells nice and adds lustre but it's very soft.

What colour will you use for a ground and how will it mix in hue with the varnish on top ? 
 
There are loads of things you could use for brown colour.  
You could try walnut husks or another organic dye material. 
Depends if you want a totally clear varnish or one with some stuff in it. 
I'd steer well clear of umber though, it's not very transparent in spirit

The aniline dyes you mentioned are said to give totally clear colours
which is not what some people are after, but Andrew Fairfax used aniline colours
very effectively in reproducing an old look varnish. 

 

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I notice nobody mentions how long of time period to let alcohol and say logwood, for example, to set mixed together before filtering or using.  One day, 10 days or 10 months?

 

I usually filter after a week, but I think 3-4 days are ok

 

Levin

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The aniline dyes you mentioned are said to give totally clear colours

which is not what some people are after, but Andrew Fairfax used aniline colours

very effectively in reproducing an old look varnish. 

 

 

Among other things, I will also use aniline dyes for touchup... though I usually don't use them "solo".  From what I've seen, when I've been with him, Andrew usually tends to mix other things in too.  He's got an aray of Magister stuff he uses. Anilines won't fool the blacklight, but I'm usually not really too concerned about that.

 

I think they can work well when mimicking old varnish on an existing piece, but I'd probably not use them as the primary color in a varnish for a new instrument.  Danger it might end up looking a bit like the instrument was painted with Kool-aid. They "work" with other additives when reproducing the look of old varnish partially dependent to the the application of the varnish itself (layering/many coats/texture/matting/blending into a smaller area).  

 

I haven't used a spirit varnish on new instruments since, but back when I was in school we had a bunch of dye goods we could throw in the varnish jar for extraction when making spirit varnish.  Tutti Gialli (all yellows), annatto, aloe, dragons blood, various dark resins, etc., but much of that stuff was not terribly light fast.  A very bad thing for touchup and the final color of a new instrument was always a but of a mystery... had to wait and see!   :)

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