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Hey folks, figured I'd open up with a quick introduction. I'm Taylor Lethbridge, a 25-year-old trade-school-dropout-turned-luthier/archetier.
Below I've attached a few pictures of my second violin build (from last year), and a little assortment of my bows. I'm really excited to have found this forum after a year or so of being surrounded by less-inclusive groups for my lack of formal training.

The violin features a 1-piece back, ribs, and scroll/neck reclaimed from a 120-year-old maple church pew, and the top is 30-year-old spruce, with macassar ebony fittings/nut/saddle/fingerboard. The blocks are black willow, and the soundpost and bassbar are both cut from the belly stock. The groundcoat is a lovely golden colour--derived from my own theory on Stradivari's ground-- and the cocoa-red varnish is subjected to my own patent-pending process prior to application. The rib form is based on Guarneri's il Cannone, though the top and back plate arching is more Guadagnini-esque. The pegs were store-bought, but the tailpiece is my own doing and features an ivory tailpiece fret salvaged from an old piano key. The pictures are less-than-flattering (phone camera), but relatively true-to-colour.
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The bows are all pernambuco with ebony frogs (I scored a decent stock of CITES-approved pernambuco last year), and are based on baroque, late-classical/transition, and Tourte bows, respectively.
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The varnish looks very opaque but maybe it's just the photography,  Nice color though.    Do you stain the wood? It looks stained.  

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1 hour ago, MikeC said:

The varnish looks very opaque but maybe it's just the photography,  Nice color though.    Do you stain the wood? It looks stained.  

Yeah, it came out a bit opaque/hazy on this one--it was my first time using Dragon's blood as a colourant, and I went a smidge overboard.

The maple's not deliberately stained--I used a steel wool/urea wash to help the figure pop in the spruce--but in this case the maple had absorbed so much incense smoke and grime over the years that it already had a bit of a burnt-in look before even adding the ground or varnish. Thanks for the kind words!

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Here's another I've just about finished up: it's intended to be an amalgam of Del Gesu's 1744 'Ole Bull' and his 1743 'Il Cannone'.  Oil varnish, bone nut, one-piece lower rib, and my first attempt at handmade Pear/Poplar purfling--the spruce is from the Fiemme valley in Italy, and the maple is from the Carpathian mountains in Romania. 

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Edited by LethbridgeViolins

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Here's my latest. It's a copy of the ex-Hochstein Stradivarius of 1715 (and my first Earnest Strad copy). PG forma, Italian spruce, Romanian Maple, un-dyed ebony, and my first attempt at antiquing. I'm somewhat proud of this one, and my instrument photography gets progressively better.

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Edited by LethbridgeViolins

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2 hours ago, DarylG said:

Hi Taylor, do you have any photos of your violins during construction?

Not many--I usually just trek out to my workshop and marathon through each step of the process. 

Is documentary photography something I should start making a habit of? (I'm new to this whole kit and kaboodle.)

19 minutes ago, Jeff Jetson said:

Looks Italian to me!

I'm getting there, at least! My ff's, corners and scrolls still need a bit of refinement, but I've got plenty of time to get myself there.

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On ‎8‎/‎25‎/‎2017 at 2:51 PM, LethbridgeViolins said:

Here's another I've just about finished up: it's intended to be an amalgam of Del Gesu's 1744 'Ole Bull' and his 1743 'Il Cannone'.  Oil varnish, bone nut, one-piece lower rib, and my first attempt at handmade Pear/Poplar purfling--the spruce is from the Fiemme valley in Italy, and the maple is from the Carpathian mountains in Romania. 


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Lovely varnish work!

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3 hours ago, lpr5184 said:

Lovely varnish work!

Thank you! That's just about the only useful skill I picked up during my cabinetmaking minor. I'd be happy to share my recipe, if you'd like it.

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I second that motion,  I'm very keen on learning to make a good varnish myself.   If you don't mind sharing a recipe.  It's a good looking color.   I've messed around with various rosin oil varnish attempts off and on but never satisfied.  

 

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31 minutes ago, MikeC said:

I second that motion,  I'm very keen on learning to make a good varnish myself.   If you don't mind sharing a recipe.  It's a good looking color.   I've messed around with various rosin oil varnish attempts off and on but never satisfied.  

 


Gladly! I'm not a man of many secrets.

On that particular fiddle it's applied in 11 agonizingly thin coats over a hide glue ground, but it's equally lovely over an egg-white or shellac-based ground (though I haven't tried it with any other formulas yet.)

This is a very transparent golden-amber varnish with hints of marmalade as it builds up. You could technically omit the copal and increase the amount of pine rosin to compensate, but I'm a sucker for the smell (and added hardness) of copal. It's a very old-fashioned formula so it's a bit slow to dry, but it's proven worth the wait for me--so far.

1.5 grams turmeric, pulverized
0.5 grams saffron, pulverized
4 grams Pine Rosin, crushed
2 grams Copal , crushed
25mL Turpentine PLUS 120mL
60mL linseed oil plus 5mL of walnut oil

Place the first 4 ingredients in a cast-iron pan. Pour onto it 25mL of turpentine, and simmer over a low heat—covered—for 15 minutes until all constituents have dissolved. Once this has slightly cooled (I aim for 60* Celsius), add 60mL of linseed oil plus 5mL of walnut oil and mix thoroughly before adding 120mL of turpentine and mixing again. Once cooled (to 25*C or so), strain through a fine sieve (or pantyhose) and bottle for use.

Noteworthy is that the slight red-brown hue you see is a result of traces of iron oxide transferred from the cast iron pan in which it's cooked--should you prefer a double-boiler or pyrex, I'm sure you could replicate it by adding a dash of iron oxide powder to the recipe.

Edited by LethbridgeViolins

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do the saffron and turmeric add color?   Turmeric color seems to fade pretty quickly on bare wood.  maybe it lasts longer when cooked into varnish?     Thanks for the recipe,  I'll try it.  

 

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44 minutes ago, MikeC said:

do the saffron and turmeric add color?   Turmeric color seems to fade pretty quickly on bare wood.  maybe it lasts longer when cooked into varnish?     Thanks for the recipe,  I'll try it.  

 

The saffron and turmeric act as colourants, indeed! 
From my (admittedly limited) experiences so far, the harsh yellow of turmeric mellows out significantly once the oils saturate it, and eventually mellows to something between goldenrod and hansa yellow after some time in the light box, while the saffron is somewhat more colourfast (though after some time in the lightbox its marigold undertones become slightly more prevalent).
With 1.5 grams of good-quality turmeric, the varnish comes out of the pot SLIGHTLY yellower than the final cured product (pictured above), but 1.0 grams dried too orange for my tastes. Feel free to experiment!

I'll see if I can dig out my experiment swatches from the workshop tomorrow.

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1 hour ago, Janito said:

The wood appears to have a green 'dichromate' tinge where the varnish has been worn off.

If you're referring to the del Gesu 'Ole Bull'/'Cannone' hybrid, you're 100% right. That was my first (and possibly last) experiment with potassium dichromate oxidation. (I'm not fond of the greenish cast).
The Strad I just finished was briefly ammonia fumed (only about 40 minutes), then tanned in a light box, so the coloration of the unfinished/worn sections is a much more neutral grey than the photos would suggest.

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