Thomas Coleman

How do you "dirty" up a new instrument?

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For those of you that do antiquing and such, how do you dirty up your instrument?  Raw Umber oil paint?  casein paint?  Do you apply any thing over it to keep it in place?  Any description of your technique would be appreciated.  Thanks

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patience and imagination.

Post some violin pics from other sources so we can see what kind of idea you have in mind, if possible.  

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On 6/3/2017 at 2:36 PM, Thomas Coleman said:

For those of you that do antiquing and such, how do you dirty up your instrument?  Raw Umber oil paint?  casein paint?  Do you apply any thing over it to keep it in place?  Any description of your technique would be appreciated.  Thanks

The first thing I did was to study the other makers who left photos of antiqued work to look at.  Like Ertz, Melvin,  Advocatus, Jezzupe and others.

  With my recent work I went ahead with an evenly applied colored oil varnish that was put on to the best of my ability.  Don't muddy the grain lines on the wood with color.  Then a few months later I worked up enough nerve to apply a rag saturated but not dripping with turpentine to bring the bout areas down to ground, or heaven forbid, down to bare wood, oops.  That's where I found where egg white sealer is pretty tough to remove though turps on a rag will wear it down eventually.  I've recently found that Goof-Off works better than turpentine for removing oil varnish coats.

  The places that were removed down to ground or bare wood next had a rag wetted with ammonia.  That turned those areas brown or dark tan - the dirty look but not real dirt.  Let that dry and then applying slightly tinted oil varnish I found I could bring some of the areas or almost all of it back to what looked to me a golden, slightly reddish shade, mostly gold though.  I can't remember if I mixed up more egg white for areas that were rubbed down to bare wood or thin leftover sealer before more oil was applied.

  Then I left my work to set a few months over the past winter.  Not thinking at the time a "what have I done now" moment but more like a "what's next" moment.  I needed to blend the rubbed bout to the main body of the varnish.  Too many light areas that oil wouldn't fix with ease plus more needed cure time.  

  This spring, lucky for me I still had some Behlen's fruitwood alcohol stain laying around.  With a 2mm wide or so sized brush I blended the areas that needed work to make things look better.  Better to me means can I play this instrument confidently without worrying about what I did with the varnish finish in regards to appearance?  That's the whole key mostly.

  The oil varnish must be cured before applying the alcohol based coloring.  Thought I'd put that there just in case someone else may want to go this route for making their work look old.  

  To finish off the process another 5 to 8 coats of colored oil and clear oil are applied thinly.  If you're going for the showroom perfect finish then maybe a few more coats can be applied for safety reasons - don't over do it.

  If there's a next time for me I'll try the Jezzupe roll the rock on the wood method - that's pretty good.

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On 6/3/2017 at 2:36 PM, Thomas Coleman said:

For those of you that do antiquing and such, how do you dirty up your instrument?

Just say "no".  If there's one thing that's worse than dirt on the varnish, it's dirt under the varnish.

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On 6/3/2017 at 6:08 PM, JoeDeF said:

Read it some selected David Burgess/Violadamore posts. :lol:

I'll send you five bucks if you edit your post to put Violadamore's name first. ;)

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On June 3, 2017 at 5:08 PM, JoeDeF said:

Read it some selected David Burgess/Violadamore posts. :lol:

 

 

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51 minutes ago, La Folia said:

Just say "no".  If there's one thing that's worse than dirt on the varnish, it's dirt under the varnish.

It's not real dirt.  Some people use casein paint, some people use oil paint.  Usually it's on top of the varnish.  That's what I wanted to get a sense of, how people use it and what are they using.

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I antique the neck area, I like to rub real dirt  -- out of the garden, lots of humus mixed in, damp and decomposing --  into the grain on the unstained/unsealed neck to age it a bit, buff it real good to get it nice and clean, burnish it with the back side of a gouge, then seal with thinned lacquer or do a shellac/oil french polish.  It brings out the grain, but looks like its been played for 50 plus years.

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9 hours ago, Thomas Coleman said:

It's not real dirt.  Some people use casein paint, some people use oil paint.  Usually it's on top of the varnish.  That's what I wanted to get a sense of, how people use it and what are they using.

Still looks bad.

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3 hours ago, La Folia said:

Still looks bad.

rather tricky to get right, but some application of fake dirt/patination is essential for decent-looking antiquing, I feel.

in general, the end result should be very subtle, even though the method of application may be anything but.:o

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7 hours ago, La Folia said:

Still looks bad.

My only reason really for applying an antique dirty look finish is to possibly match the romanticism of having 225 year old violin music to try a hand at and having an instrument that can possibly match the aura agewise of the music.  

  Are such reliced, distressed,  possibly artificial looking finishes frown upon by players such as yourself, Gowan and others?

   I realize Davide and David as makers don't care for such a look but who are those guys in relation to the average fiddle forger these days?:ph34r:  You guys are great.

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On 6/13/2017 at 7:54 AM, uncle duke said:

Are such reliced, distressed,  possibly artificial looking finishes frown upon by players such as yourself, Gowan and others?

If it looks like garbage, it doesn't make the music sound any better.  Some people take their violin in to have it cleaned.  Others just keep it clean.  If it was made dirty, you're just out of luck.  Antiquing is one thing, but that dirty look just looks bad, in my opinion.

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I was studying this topic for awhile and asking around.  One thing I learned is that using any black pigment is not something that makes the age look real.  

Apropos, I am selling some artisanal schmutz for discerning luthiers.  It's from the vaccuum bag  a secret source. Only $10/oz

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The simplest answer is most likely to use all the different kinds of dirt in as many thin layers as possible.  My general rule of thumb is that if you can see the dirt in any given layer, there's too much.  The exceptions, in my mind, are the dull stuff under the edges and in the crannies of the volute, and a rosin mustache, if you include one.  Casein paint, oil tube colors, shoe polish, dry pigments, furniture dust, and dryer lint are all great, if applied thinly enough.  Powdered rosin works well for a final dusting after polish, especially in scrolls.

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4 hours ago, Advocatus Diaboli said:

IMG_0335.thumb.JPG.1313be8f347ce03b999e2eabc2571fe8.JPGIMG_0331.thumb.jpg.0203797e6540677c00c03606b218545f.jpgIMG_0332.thumb.jpg.d7fd87b24deb813a23081727b0eeaa6e.jpg

Very nice , personaly, I am drawn to sunrise  , sunsets, long walks by the lake, Campfires, and good storytellers. Doesn't,t matter so much if the story is true, as much as if it is believable. I've started thinking of antiquing in a sort of layer way, that is to try and conceptualize over time the various things that happen and when they might happen, starting with a good straight varnish, add some wear, induce some crackelure, add more wear, pull some varnish .....add some varnish.... add some dirt.... pull some dirt. Add some distresss , pulll some material from the edges....etc. do some touch up polish back , do some more. Never do the same thing twice. Look for wear patterns on genuine works, It's extremely important to have the process consistent top to bottom and around the sides and back..not that I even know what I am doing, more like a kid on a playground, at dusk, next to a lake, after a long walk, with dogs on the fire.....here's a shot of my latest attempt. Not calling it done, gotta add some dark to the light areas to reduce the contrast a bit more, shoulda had a darker ground to start with. image.thumb.jpg.3d359f90cdb380c098cbb625ff735109.jpgimage.thumb.jpg.5d6ec8bdd09840db792a570c0d332e71.jpgimage.thumb.jpg.beb5cde799f112c648071dbdb64add3a.jpg

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On 6/3/2017 at 2:19 PM, GeorgeH said:

Give it to a middle school as a loaner instrument. :)

The question was how to "dirty up" and instrument, not destroy it.

I wish I had a real good answer, but all I can say is "it's complicated".  Real "dirt" on an old instrument isn't necessarily dirt, but probably a combination of sweaty hands, some dirt, case lint, and then polished over with something.  Rather than try to duplicate the actual materials and methods, I think it's most efficient to find something that works, and looks like it.  Still looking.

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6 hours ago, Don Noon said:

The question was how to "dirty up" and instrument, not destroy it.

I wish I had a real good answer, but all I can say is "it's complicated".  Real "dirt" on an old instrument isn't necessarily dirt, but probably a combination of sweaty hands, some dirt, case lint, and then polished over with something.  Rather than try to duplicate the actual materials and methods, I think it's most efficient to find something that works, and looks like it.  Still looking.

That's right Don.  I posted the original question with the mindset of making something look 50 years old, not 200 years old.  I should've been more specific.

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I was taught to use some pigment mixed with water based ink. Don't mix it so much that it is uniform. Uniformity is part of what makes it look contrived. I don't antique, but without a touch of dirt it just didn't look right. At a glance you probably wouldn't even notice that there's a little dirt on there.

7 hours ago, Don Noon said:

The question was how to "dirty up" and instrument, not destroy it.

I wish I had a real good answer, but all I can say is "it's complicated".  Real "dirt" on an old instrument isn't necessarily dirt, but probably a combination of sweaty hands, some dirt, case lint, and then polished over with something.  Rather than try to duplicate the actual materials and methods, I think it's most efficient to find something that works, and looks like it.  Still looking.

If I were antiquing I would pay more attention to what Don is referencing here. There is different dirt in different places. Somewhere in my notes I have some commentary from a maker suggesting that there is dirt that has hints of grey, green or purple depending on where it is. Notably the upper treble bout is hand sweat and dirt while the chinrest and lower bass rib are face and neck sweat, which is subtly different. I think much of the instrument is a grey/black/brown non-uniform dirt. It may seem like overkill, but it's the difference between the fake dirt leaping out as being 'painted on' and looking aged and natural.

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So...  If I purchased a high-end modern instrument that wasn't antiqued by the maker, are there specialists who can antique that instrument for me?  And, if so, is that a complicated process?  Also, is there any risk to the performance quality of the instrument?  

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5 minutes ago, TunaDay said:

So...  If I purchased a high-end modern instrument that wasn't antiqued by the maker, are there specialists who can antique that instrument for me?  And, if so, is that a complicated process?  Also, is there any risk to the performance quality of the instrument?  

There seem to be people selling new Chinese violins on eBay as "old master violins" who are quite practiced at doing this.

But I don't know why you'd want to do this to a high-end modern instrument, unless...

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