Davide Sora

The Universe Within

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I found this on the web, awesome images, finally the proof that Stradivari was extraterrestrial....:lol:

Joking aside, the varnish looks very rich in pigments, something I would not have expected, according to the latest research.
I do not know neither the author nor the violin, does anyone know if its conditions are good (original varnish?) and so if the images are reliable?

This gentleman seems to have many personal theories, does anyone know him?

 

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30 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:
 
This gentleman seems to have many personal theories, does anyone know him?

 

As youtube is my main source of info about violins (besides the Pegbox) i have seen a couple of his videos. I think he spent a few years in Italy to learn violin making and bought a big log of spruce, enough for an entire lifetime. He has all sorts of interesting details on design of violins, and also on bow making.

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I understand that the Harmsworth has been re-varnished.  I don't know to what extent, or even if it's true... but that's what I was told.

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11 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

I understand that the Harmsworth has been re-varnished.  I don't know to what extent, or even if it's true... but that's what I was told.

I would be led to believe analogously.
The complete absence of fine craquelures (at least not highlighted in the video) that appears evident in almost all images of Cremonese varnish observed in other studies makes me suspicious.

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I don't have the experience, or knowledge, to take anything substantive from that as regards the varnish or wood treatment of Antonius S. [If indeed it is the original varnish}.

However I did "enjoy" the video. The thing it most left me wondering was what Dr. Irving is a doctor [Phd] of....... figure it could be either English Literature, Art History, Astro Physics, ??????

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1 hour ago, Michael Jennings said:

The thing it most left me wondering was what Dr. Irving is a doctor [Phd] of....... figure it could be either English Literature, Art History, Astro Physics, ??????

Curing insomnia.

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12 hours ago, Michael Jennings said:

I don't have the experience, or knowledge, to take anything substantive from that as regards the varnish or wood treatment of Antonius S. [If indeed it is the original varnish}.

However I did "enjoy" the video. The thing it most left me wondering was what Dr. Irving is a doctor [Phd] of....... figure it could be either English Literature, Art History, Astro Physics, ??????

Sex.

To be less flippant, Psychology.

Website says Charles R. Ervin has  PhD from Univ of Texas at Austin. His PhD dissertation should be in the University library. There is an MA (1967) diss. in Texas Uni. Library catalog by Charles R. Ervin on "Sex of evaluator as a determinant of reinforcement magnitude in interpersonal attraction". A PhD diss. seems to be missing.

Whilst I do not know Mr. Ervin's academic history, speaking generally it is not unusual to find those who claim a PhD are hard to check out, in the Anglo-American system, while those who do have a PhD keep quiet about it, certainly in UK. In many cases people who have done a lot of work towards a PhD may feel they have earned the title even without the formal award. Things are a bit different in Germany and Austria where the culture is that if you have have 'Dr.' you use it, and if you don't have it, you don't.

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1 minute ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Charles Ervin is an instrument and bow maker based in Austin and Taos, NM from what I understand.  

Yes, the website says he trained in Cremona. It looks as though the academic background is mentioned to indicate a high level of general education which he brings from unrelated fields into the violin world.

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2 minutes ago, John_London said:

Yes, the website says he trained in Cremona. It looks as though the academic background is mentioned to indicate a high level of general education which he brings from unrelated fields into the violin world.

My sense is that he does not have a lot of contact with the rest of the lutherie community here in Austin.  But that could be a misconception on my part.  I will be inviting him to the next gathering of Central TX luthiers/archetiers later this year.

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My observation/comment wasn't derogatory towards Ervin..... simply reacting to his "script" and choice of language/style, and over all analogy to violin varnish and the cosmos...... his photos, Strad/Hubble are interesting to say the least and a unique way of presenting his premise.

I don't buy any causation [don't think he was advocating the anyway] and correlation is a stretch as well...... but an entertaining [if you've just had a double espresso ] presentation of the microscopic photos of the varnish.

Reminded me a bit of a Garrison Kellor monologue. [without the humor]

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Interesting video. Thanks David.

Putting aside the author's creative use (abuse?) of poetic license to turn varnish into a transcendental experience, I found the detailed microscopic observations to be a peek back in time towards artistic practices, especially when viewed through a lens of modern scientific knowledge. 

Can we see all the way back to Stradivari? >shrug<

An initial observation is that both the wood and varnish surfaces are contoured, i.e., not meticulously smoothed as seems to be a common  modern practice. So things like light quality, intensity and angle will have a profound effect on the photos and can be "manipulated" to provide a complex visual experience that may not represent what one may see with a casual observation from a distance. Not really a criticism of the video but rather a warning about reaching conclusions based on how magnified images may look.

I've experimented with "rough" finishes and I am not sure if I like it better than smooth finishes. I suspect a rough approach is a way to give more interest to wood that has modest grain detail, while not optimally presenting complex grain structures. I would like to hear other's experience with this.

He spends a lot of time observing microscopic accumulations of color, particularly Orpiment crystals. This was a common "yellowish" colorant used 200+ years ago and stretching back to ancient times. It has several interesting physical properties which, IMO, accounts for the variety of colors that can be observed microscopically.

Orpiment is poisonous and has been replaced, as a yellow colorant, with a variety of safer modern chemicals. So experiment with it with much caution.

In pure form it is a transparent crystal and so allows light to pass through and reflect off the wood surface. Unlike pigments, it is theoretically less likely to obscure grain detail.

However, it has rather large refractive indexes depending on the path the light takes through the crystal: 2.4+. Like a diamond, it will tend to "capture" bands of light that will eventually be reflected towards the viewer as brilliant saturated color. If the surrounding varnish does not have similar RI (definitely the case here), then the crystals will be seen as spots of intense color which obscure the underlying grain. This appears to be the case with images at a variety of magnifications.

Orpiment also exhibits a property where different bands of light are absorbed and reflected at different angles of the crystal. So it can reflect a variety of tinted yellows that can appear reddish and green, also seen rather distinctly in the images of the video.

Cinnabar, also mentioned in the video, has an even higher RI, and can easily account for the orange opaqueness when the violin surface is viewed at certain angles. It is also dangerous to handle.

My takeaway is that the varnish is the centerpiece of this instrument with wood playing second fiddle, so-to-speak, to the visual experience. If one imagines the weave of a canvas, it is possible to place paint so that the weave patterns remain visible and add interest to the picture, but the details of the fibers no longer show through.

 

 

 


 

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The film by Mr Ervin has no doubt a highly entertaining aspect. Comparing varnish images with images from outer space doesn't reveal anything new regardless if the examined varnish portion is in all layers original or not.

However let's assume it is non original varnish then this video demonstrates pretty well which tricks are needed to replicate the original stuff. 

But in the end anyone who makes some claims on discoveries should be able to present some proofs by replicating Strads work.I haven't found any picture of an Ervin violin which could convince me. 

 

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Hes comments in the video makes me think it is important to note that space pictures colors are not real.

"Hubble images are all false color – meaning they start out as black and white, and are then colored. Most often this is to highlight interesting features of the object in the image, as well as to make the data more meaningful. Sometimes colors are chosen to make them look as our eyes would see them, called “natural color,” but not always"

Source: https://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/blueshift/index.php/2016/09/13/hubble-false-color/

And if you really want to understand how they do it: http://hubble.stsci.edu/newscenter/press_resources/skytel200209028034.pdf


 

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He doesn't strike me as a liar.   Colorful in language and imagery, yes.   Also, oddly flat footed and pedantic. A strange combo.  Obviously, anyone can make mistakes, but lying I do see in him.  Rather an almost painful effort to make his case plainly and clearly by directly sharing the evidence visually.

He says the varnish is original.  And he points to more and less worn areas.   Certainly  there is a possibility of err, but purposeful misdirection seems very unlikely.

Further, the varnish and finish is complex and texture in a way that looks very consistent with other classical instrument, and very inconsistent with most modern efforts.   

All in all, I'm very inclined to take what was shown essentially at face.

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3 hours ago, David Beard said:

He says the varnish is original.

Never heard of him, or know his reputation in the violin world.

My source (who shall remain anonymous) who stated it was re-varnished is a world-recognized maker, who I would trust more.  But the real truth I can't say  I know for sure.

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Based on my (very limited) knowledge on the subject I have never seen classic varnishes with such a large presence of pigments, while it seems to me that it is rather common in modern instruments with an intense color obtained with pigments.

I can take for granted his good faith (at least I hope so), but I am more inclined to believe what was reported by Don's friend.

Of course I can be wrong, but I'm in good faith too.:)

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On 6/20/2018 at 7:52 AM, John_London said:

Website says Charles R. Ervin has  PhD from Univ of Texas at Austin. His PhD dissertation should be in the University library. There is an MA (1967) diss. in Texas Uni. Library catalog by Charles R. Ervin on "Sex of evaluator as a determinant of reinforcement magnitude in interpersonal attraction". A PhD diss. seems to be missing.

Whilst I do not know Mr. Ervin's academic history, speaking generally it is not unusual to find those who claim a PhD are hard to check out, in the Anglo-American system, while those who do have a PhD keep quiet about it, certainly in UK. In many cases people who have done a lot of work towards a PhD may feel they have earned the title even without the formal award. Things are a bit different in Germany and Austria where the culture is that if you have have 'Dr.' you use it, and if you don't have it, you don't.

11

FWIW, I checked my membership directory of the American Astronomical Society and there is no such person. 

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