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Varnish on the ground or in the wood


Peter K-G
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Others can speak with more experience, but if there is no ground and the curls in the maple get soaked with oil and color you don't get the same movement of the curly maple when you move the instrument, do you?  And the existence of a ground on early Cremonese instruments is also proven by observing worn areas under UV light.  I wouldn't varnish without a ground.  

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GB Guadanini decided to forgo the ground on some of his instruments.  

I'm also interested in how this affects the optical magic of the maple. 
Does it burn in the figure like a stain?

Correction: In the Scrollavezza and Zanre book, several Guadanini instruments from the 1780's are described as having little or no sealer apart from the end grain and the wood having been penetrated by the one-coat colored varnish he was likely using in this period. 
It seems possible he may have just used a filler/sealer where it was necessary to keep the color even on these instruments. 
Perhaps he preferred the unsealed look as well?

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1 hour ago, Michael_Molnar said:

An issue here is whether the maker is trying to duplicate (replicate) Cremonese procedures, or is finding ways to produce great looking instruments.  We need to focus and declare our objective. 

with a website like thestradsound one would think there is an effort to replicate the Cremonese, no? :)  But I agree, it would be good to keep the discussion focused!

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1 hour ago, violinsRus said:

with a website like thestradsound one would think there is an effort to replicate the Cremonese, no? :)  But I agree, it would be good to keep the discussion focused!

Many makers claim to have answers, but few makers agree. Nevertheless, my point is that in this thread there are makers who are NOT checking their methods against scientific findings. 

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3 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

An issue here is whether the maker is trying to duplicate (replicate) Cremonese procedures, or is finding ways to produce great looking instruments.  We need to focus and declare our objective. 

If you did a blind test you wouldn't be able to see a difference between Cremonese and newer finishes.

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2 hours ago, christian bayon said:

It´s too soaked in the wood but the colour is beautiful.

It's my latest cook and I'm really happy with the color, there is no colors added, only varnish. The middle image is not that soaked into the wood but also too much for me to have on a violin back. I'm working on to get the right effect with only varnish and casein/lime ground.

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4 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

An issue here is whether the maker is trying to duplicate (replicate) Cremonese procedures, or is finding ways to produce great looking instruments.  We need to focus and declare our objective. 

 

2 hours ago, violinsRus said:

with a website like thestradsound one would think there is an effort to replicate the Cremonese, no? :)  But I agree, it would be good to keep the discussion focused!

There is no attempt to replicate Cremonese varnish, as I do not know one bit of how they look like in reality. Like most of us we have only images to look at and learn how our own images are in comparison in different light. I have looked into Lady Blunt images for some time. Michael Darnton has some great images of that violin and as I suspected it does not look like what I have of the same violin.

I agree that objectives has to be clear before a meaningful discussion can take place.

The following is a little bit risky to say - but I don't think that the top antiquers on this forum have good imitations of Cremonese varnish. They are very beautiful but look "wetted/moist" (correct my English). But then again we have nothing else to compare than images.

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Just my opinion, but I feel  varnish was not directily applied because soaking could result in areas that  would take long periods to dry. I guess an example is the edge of the top plate. I eventually learned to only varnish sparingly because  too much varnish here soaked in the vertical ends and would stay tacky long after everything else is tack free. The presence of glue- fairly common knowledge, a thin coat of glue helps to scrape or sand off the vertical projections on surfaces in preparation for getting that smooth surface necessary for the top coat. A color stain in the wood- I think this is proven, not sure- they had Brazilin, easily extracted from Pernambuco bow wood, Hematoxylon from logwood, and Alkanet from a regional weed.  Anyone  could be applied by including in the glue coat by adding some alcohol or lime. You also want to produce an inst that  is a work of  art in appearance, so anything that creates dichroism such as  layering of differential coats of  resin would be needed. Calcium could be present in just about any of the  substances. I can't think of  a specific reason for adding a layer of a mineral ground other than the remains of surface preparation.

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This resembles a lot of the testing I have been doing to sort out what I want in a sealer/ground/varnish or however you want to call them.  In the OP photos, the left is washed out and the right is too soaked to my eye, and the middle is close to what I am aiming for.

This points out the variables that are involved and need to be tested:  color of the wood itself; color, intensity, transparency, wetting/penetration of the first thing that goes on the wood; the same for all the other coatings that go on the wood.  That all adds up to an infinite set of combinations, and changes every time depending on the color and grain structure of the specific piece of wood being used.  No wonder varnish threads tend to be long and never come to a final conclusion.

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5 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

This resembles a lot of the testing I have been doing to sort out what I want in a sealer/ground/varnish or however you want to call them.  In the OP photos, the left is washed out and the right is too soaked to my eye, and the middle is close to what I am aiming for.

This points out the variables that are involved and need to be tested:  color of the wood itself; color, intensity, transparency, wetting/penetration of the first thing that goes on the wood; the same for all the other coatings that go on the wood.  That all adds up to an infinite set of combinations, and changes every time depending on the color and grain structure of the specific piece of wood being used.  No wonder varnish threads tend to be long and never come to a final conclusion.

All true, but to me you also need to toss in how any change affects longevity, and while some guessing is possible based previously made instruments it seems that is no guarantee that "my" changes will last - seems like a very risky part of the whole violin making process. You put a lot of work into making the instrument, sell it to someone for a reasonable but significant amount of money and both parties expect it to last a while. What if the color fades or deepens to unacceptable levels within a few years? 

It seems to me that this is the most scary part of the whole process. Maybe just because of my lack of knowledge of all the things that can go wrong a year after I finish making an instrument... Oh to be young again and have 50 years of experience now, instead of just starting out and trying to figure out the safest part to take... :)

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Yes, there's that too.  I generally test each coating material on glass first, then on wood, and leave it out in the sun for a while.  That's after determining as best as possible from research that the coatings will last and not fade (although some makers WANT the varnish to wear off easily).

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20 minutes ago, FrankNichols said:

All true, but to me you also need to toss in how any change affects longevity, and while some guessing is possible based previously made instruments it seems that is no guarantee that "my" changes will last - seems like a very risky part of the whole violin making process. You put a lot of work into making the instrument, sell it to someone for a reasonable but significant amount of money and both parties expect it to last a while. What if the color fades or deepens to unacceptable levels within a few years? 

It seems to me that this is the most scary part of the whole process. Maybe just because of my lack of knowledge of all the things that can go wrong a year after I finish making an instrument... Oh to be young again and have 50 years of experience now, instead of just starting out and trying to figure out the safest part to take... :)

If longevity is a concern then you should also consider the influence of the index of refraction of the various components--the arguments have been going on for years and years and will probably last forever.

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