Danube Fiddler

The ground ( sealing) of the great masters - which was it ?

Recommended Posts

3 hours ago, Mike_Danielson said:

This might be of interest from a 1900 Strad magazine.  Wonder how that Whitlaw varnish worked out over time--but it is the finest varnish in the world.   I bet there is a lesson in this.

Mike D

 

image of page 22

Is this a joke, or are Canadians banned from viewing this? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...first it starts with cheese, then softwood, and now this...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

you responded to my post by providing myths you have no personal experience about.

Unfortunately, this may well be true.

In searching for information about violins and violin-making, the most credible sources I came across provided the following information:

- it is established that Stradivari used linseed oil for his first two coats of varnsh, and pine oil in his third, on at least one violin;

- spirit varnish didn't become available until somewhat after his time;

- the Guadagnini violins on which spirit varnish was used are less well regarded;

- oil varnish tends to age well; spirit varnish tends to turn an ugly brown color and chip off after decades

- the varnish Stradivari used may not have done anything magical to the sound of his violins, but it had a rich, beautiful appearance that made it greatly admired, leading to efforts to duplicate it, if only for its visual appeal

And, as well, in a generally reputable, but old, source, spirit varnish was referred to as a "tone-destroying" thing that Stradivari would never use.

In doing a web search specifically on this last item, though, I see that indeed the situation is more complicated than I thought. Part of the issue may be that there are many different kinds of both oil varnish and spirit varnish, and some of the references to spirit varnish I saw may have been applicable only to the bad spirit varnish... used in Markneukirchen.

Since linseed oil polymerizes instead of really drying, and that slowly, it has more time to soak into the wood than spirit varnish, which dries quickly. (Walnut oil, however, does dry, for what that's worth. Since Stradivari didn't use it, I can't automatically plump for it as the miracle varnish that splits the difference; I will need to find out what results makers have had with it.)

The fact that Eastman prefers spirit varnish to drying oil varnish under UV lamps - and the fact that Don Noon had said spirit varnish was not so bad - meant that I already had some doubts.

After learning that the varnish situation was indeed far more complex than I realized, I tried doing some web searches for the varnishes on old tube radios, figuring that given the economic importance of this industry, someone there might have developed a varnish giving a similar visual effect to Stradivari's, but I haven't turned up a candidate secret Stradivari varnish with that angle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

Is this a joke, or are Canadians banned from viewing this? :)

I can't see it either. I know Google Books doesn't let me see a lot of things that ought to be in the public domain, and a search which pulled up an ad for Whitelaw's Cremona Amber Oil Varnish in volumes 10-12 of The Strad only got me as far as snippet view. (Volume 7, on the other hand, is fully visible to me.)

But here's a link ( Volume 5 of The Strad ) that does work in Canada, for the same ad in an earlier issue of The Strad.

Also, the book "The Violin: How to Choose One" by "A Professional Player" gives a recipe for making amber varnish; this is available at the Internet Archive.

Edited by Quadibloc
Added amber varnish reference

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Mike_Danielson said:

This might be of interest from a 1900 Strad magazine.  Wonder how that Whitlaw varnish worked out over time--but it is the finest varnish in the world.   I bet there is a lesson in this.

Mike D

 

image of page 22

I am not able ( not allowed ?) to see it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Quadibloc said:

In searching for information about violins and violin-making, the most credible sources I came across provided the following information:

Which sources are these ?

1 hour ago, Quadibloc said:

- spirit varnish didn't become available until somewhat after his time;

I believe to remember a lot of spirit recipes , yet known before the lifetime of Stradivari, at least during his lifetime.

However at my impression is, that you are right so far, that at the moment most of ambitious makers believe to must do an oil-varnish ( but coincidently stand on, that the same oil-varnish would be harmful in the pores of wood as a filling ground).  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Quadibloc said:

Unfortunately, this may well be true.

In searching for information about violins and violin-making, the most credible sources I came across provided the following information:

- it is established that Stradivari used linseed oil for his first two coats of varnsh, and pine oil in his third, on at least one violin;

- spirit varnish didn't become available until somewhat after his time;

- the Guadagnini violins on which spirit varnish was used are less well regarded;

- oil varnish tends to age well; spirit varnish tends to turn an ugly brown color and chip off after decades

- the varnish Stradivari used may not have done anything magical to the sound of his violins, but it had a rich, beautiful appearance that made it greatly admired, leading to efforts to duplicate it, if only for its visual appeal

And, as well, in a generally reputable, but old, source, spirit varnish was referred to as a "tone-destroying" thing that Stradivari would never use.

In doing a web search specifically on this last item, though, I see that indeed the situation is more complicated than I thought. Part of the issue may be that there are many different kinds of both oil varnish and spirit varnish, and some of the references to spirit varnish I saw may have been applicable only to the bad spirit varnish... used in Markneukirchen.

Since linseed oil polymerizes instead of really drying, and that slowly, it has more time to soak into the wood than spirit varnish, which dries quickly. (Walnut oil, however, does dry, for what that's worth. Since Stradivari didn't use it, I can't automatically plump for it as the miracle varnish that splits the difference; I will need to find out what results makers have had with it.)

The fact that Eastman prefers spirit varnish to drying oil varnish under UV lamps - and the fact that Don Noon had said spirit varnish was not so bad - meant that I already had some doubts.

After learning that the varnish situation was indeed far more complex than I realized, I tried doing some web searches for the varnishes on old tube radios, figuring that given the economic importance of this industry, someone there might have developed a varnish giving a similar visual effect to Stradivari's, but I haven't turned up a candidate secret Stradivari varnish with that angle.

Quadibloc, you do have the most incredible gift for teaching grannies to suck eggs ...

I'm afraid it's of little benefit to Maestronet to hoover up vast quantities of uncurated crap on Google and repeat it here. You are in the company of some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the field. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Quadibloc said:

In searching for information about violins and violin-making, the most credible sources I came across provided the following information: ...

In doing a web search specifically on this last item, ...

After learning that the varnish situation was indeed far more complex than I realized, I tried doing some web searches ...

Have you learned yet that it can often be better to simply ask here, than to expound at great length about what you have found on the internet? There are some very knowledgeable people here, who have already waded through all that crap, and would rather not do it ad nauseum. Most of them will be very willing to help you learn, if you don't make it too exhausting for them.

You have your own website for that. ;)

Edit: Looks like Martin is having similar sentiments, and he is a very valuable resource.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Echard, a very good scientist, was wrong, nevertheless, to conclude that his detection of linseed oil was applied intentionally to the wood surface. Brandmair explained in B&G how difficult it is to assign detected components to a specific layer or to a particular application sequence. 

:ph34r:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, martin swan said:

You are in the company of some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the field. 

I realize that. However, I'm not equipped to sort between them and other posters here who may know less than I do. So, while there are plenty of unreliable web sites on the Internet, when I see stuff that actually made it to paper book publication, and so on, I assume I can use it as a more solid foundation.

The trouble is that compared, say, to astrophysics, apparently the situation with regard to violin making is a bit more of a Wild West one.

My own humble knowledge of such matters tells me that if Stradivari achieved an effect where the surface of his varnish was glossy, and yet the wood of the violin beneath it also was shiny, then he must have used a transparent ground coat or first layer of varnish that had a higher refractive index than the later layers, so as to have two surfaces, the outer one, and one close to the wood, that behaved like a transparent solid object in a lighter medium.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

  Here is how looks like and behave the polymerized linseed oil and naturally oxidized in air for a long period of time :

 

After the initial oil polymerization, it takes at least five or six years of natural oxidation to complete the process of transformation and make it completely soluble in alcohol. This is thirty years old (polymerization process started in 1986 year) and it is transformed into a stable substance, very plastic and not hard at all. In ethyl alcohol  it dissolves completely in a few minutes.

  Could this experiment lead to the possibility of not having to use a resin like pine resin to formulate an oil varnish?   Can the dried transformed linseed be used as the resin instead of colophony for an oil cook is what I am asking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't worry about varnish. It seems that when a maker gets a good model, good archings, good scroll, f holes, corners, purfling, edge work,  good set up, personality,  sound and playability, the good varnish and ground will magically comes together with all those things.

So, don't worry about varnish and ground. At the time you solve the above mentioned problems, the varnish and ground problem will be solved too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

Don't worry about varnish. It seems that when a maker gets a good model, good archings, good scroll, f holes, corners, purfling, edge work,  good set up, personality,  sound and playability, the good varnish and ground will magically comes together with all those things.

So, don't worry about varnish and ground. At the time you solve the above mentioned problems, the varnish and ground problem will be solved too.

I am afraid a little bit, that you could be right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those that cannot see the advertisement, I pasted a page from a 1900 Strad magazine.  It was an Ad for Whitelaw's amber oil varnish that promised that it was "identical to the best Cremona varnishes."  I had no idea that there would be a problem that would prevent some people from seeing the ad.  The New York Public Library had copied all these old Strads (which are available on-line), and I made a copy of the Ad and pasted it into Maestronet from a Pdf file.

Anyway, you can see that the varnish issue has never gone away.  There has been plenty of pontification over this issue in the last 118 years.    

Mike D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Echard, a very good scientist, was wrong, nevertheless, to conclude that his detection of linseed oil was applied intentionally to the wood surface. Brandmair explained in B&G how difficult it is to assign detected components to a specific layer or to a particular application sequence. 

:ph34r:

 

 

I believe Echard has modified his view on this. A friend recently put it this way:

Echard and Brandmair took a VERY accurate picture of a 300 year old meal and told us what was in it.  But that is not a recipe.

I would add that it is also not a  road map for application.

Joe

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Echard, a very good scientist, was wrong, nevertheless, to conclude that his detection of linseed oil was applied intentionally to the wood surface. Brandmair explained in B&G how difficult it is to assign detected components to a specific layer or to a particular application sequence. 

:ph34r:

 

 

The really interesting information i.m.o. was, that Echard did not detect anything other in the intracellular spaces - so far as I had understood. So the issue of application sequence or intention seems to be of secondary importance.

First importance should have the most probable fact, that there is only dried oil ( or oil-varnish according to Brandmeir) in the vessels and intracellular spaces - probably additional some proteins in the cell - walls ( according to Brandmeir) but mostly not in the intracellular spaces but some particulates in a few vessels of Guadagnini - violins.

Do you see any indication for a contradicting claim ? Which would be this indication ? Any contradicting research with best scientific methods of presence ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, joerobson said:

I believe Echard has modified his view on this. A friend recently put it this way:

Echard and Brandmair took a VERY accurate picture of a 300 year old meal and told us what was in it.  But that is not a recipe.

I would add that it is also not a  road map for application.

Joe

 

 

I understand, what you mean and in general I agree. 

However if we look for a recipe, this recipe must work so, that finally there will be dried oil or at least oil-varnish in the vessels and intracellular spaces of wood until a depth of 2/10 mm. 

Would you agree to this claim  : If any recipe brings dried oil or oil-varnish into the vessels and intracellular spaces, while limiting a deeper than 0,2 mm penetration -  then it is fitting to the findings of Echard. 

If any recipe does not bring .......immediatly or at least in a predictable way during a longer time period -  then it does not fit to the findings of Echard and therefor cannot be a similar procedure as done by the great masters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, joerobson said:

Echard and Brandmair took a VERY accurate picture of a 300 year old meal and told us what was in it.  But that is not a recipe.

Not quite.

Perhaps I would accept: A very accurate picture NOW of something that was applied 300 years ago and then altered by restorers, owners and amateurs.

Nothing to do with recipe, application etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Janito said:

Not quite.

Perhaps I would accept: A very accurate picture NOW of something that was applied 300 years ago and then altered by restorers, owners and amateurs.

Nothing to do with recipe, application etc.

Jamito,

Yes. I buy that.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

I understand, what you mean and in general I agree. 

However if we look for a recipe, this recipe must work so, that finally there will be dried oil or at least oil-varnish in the vessels and intracellular spaces of wood until a depth of 2/10 mm. 

Would you agree to this claim  : If any recipe brings dried oil or oil-varnish into the vessels and intracellular spaces, while limiting a deeper than 0,2 mm penetration -  then it is fitting to the findings of Echard. 

If any recipe does not bring .......immediatly or at least in a predictable way during a longer time period -  then it does not fit to the findings of Echard and therefor cannot be a similar procedure as done by the great masters.

One must not  ignore the effects of application methods and film ageing when making judgements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, joerobson said:

I believe Echard has modified his view on this. A friend recently put it this way:

Echard and Brandmair took a VERY accurate picture of a 300 year old meal and told us what was in it.  But that is not a recipe.

I would add that it is also not a  road map for application.

Joe

 

 

Absolutely agree on this.

I would like to add that a good varnish materials are one thing, the way it is applied is often radically underestimated. If you know the ingredients of a first class chef you don't know how to prepare the dish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

I understand, what you mean and in general I agree. 

However if we look for a recipe, this recipe must work so, that finally there will be dried oil or at least oil-varnish in the vessels and intracellular spaces of wood until a depth of 2/10 mm. 

Would you agree to this claim  : If any recipe brings dried oil or oil-varnish into the vessels and intracellular spaces, while limiting a deeper than 0,2 mm penetration -  then it is fitting to the findings of Echard. 

If any recipe does not bring .......immediatly or at least in a predictable way during a longer time period -  then it does not fit to the findings of Echard and therefor cannot be a similar procedure as done by the great masters.

I see one of the major problems that no researcher in varnish ever examined how the wood might have looked like when a violin maker of the past applied the ground on the wood. We assume that it was just like today and the wood was white. Was it really???

I don't think so any more. Thermal processing darkens the wood and then the whole varnish story looks diametrically different. Wood treatment might give you more answers than the tons of books written on varnish analysis.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I see one of the major problems that no researcher in varnish ever examined how the wood might have looked like when a violin maker of the past applied the ground on the wood. We assume that it was just like today and the wood was white. Was it really???

One thing for sure, the wood in very old violins is visually nothing whatsoever like modern untreated wood.  The question then becomes:  is the difference only due to 300 years, or "something else"?  

Personally, I'm a believer in the 300 years effect.  Which (if true) means that old violins, when new, looked nothing like they  do today, and using authentic ground will take 300 years to look like we presumably want them to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

One thing for sure, the wood in very old violins is visually nothing whatsoever like modern untreated wood.  The question then becomes:  is the difference only due to 300 years, or "something else"?  

Personally, I'm a believer in the 300 years effect.  Which (if true) means that old violins, when new, looked nothing like they  do today, and using authentic ground will take 300 years to look like we presumably want them to.

It's certainly true that there's good reason for skepticism concerning the theories of Nagyvary and similar ones, even though they have often been advanced. On the other hand, I don't think that it's too fantastic that the wood in violins might have undergone some common method of treatment to protect against worms or whatever.

But I don't see a reason to be too concerned that the use of authentic ground and varnish on a new violin today might not make it look exactly like a 300-year-old Cremonese instrument.

For one thing, if we have some fancy X-ray diffraction study, or something like that, to go by, then we don't have to let the difference in appearance make us believe that we haven't gotten it right.

For another, of course the instruments will look different after 300 years, but presumably when they were just made, they did look nice. That's not to guarantee that they had looked better than ordinary instruments today, of course, although I suspect there are grounds for hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.