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Nick Allen

Store bought varnish? I think I've found the right stuff?

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Joe Robson: Did you (or anyone you know) ever experiment with kermes? I definitely want to read about your cochineal concoction, but have always wondered about the earliest red dyes. I suspect the cochineal has some more desirable qualities and I look forward to learning more about it.

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5 hours ago, not telling said:

Joe Robson: Did you (or anyone you know) ever experiment with kermes? I definitely want to read about your cochineal concoction, but have always wondered about the earliest red dyes. I suspect the cochineal has some more desirable qualities and I look forward to learning more about it.

Was red ochre ever used as a red pigment? 

I'm aware that humans have been using it for millennia now. 

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On 10/15/2018 at 1:21 AM, FiddleDoug said:

????? They might have bought their varnish from the local apothocary, but where have you ever heard that they farmed instruments out for finishing??

Perhaps the best preserved Strad and del Gesu Varnishes are on pochettes...they look like they were varnished by the same hand. Maybe a bit more clear self levelling varnish is under the color varnish on del Gesu to compensate for rougher wood finish. It's just my observation from my own work

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On 10/15/2018 at 12:11 AM, MikeC said:

They didn't finish their own instruments?  Where did you find that ?  

You think they did all the leatherwork on the cases they sold and made the rivets and hinges  and made their own strings? The myth of the single creator is quite a modern romantic construct and it blinds the way we look at what the old guys did. The old guys would sub work out just like the top end cabinet makers across the yard from me do today. It's no coincidence that the varnish finish on Del Gesu seems far above the threashold of the wood finishing and his varnish and Strad's is more similar to each other  than to the rest of the Cremonese

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7 hours ago, not telling said:

Joe Robson: Did you (or anyone you know) ever experiment with kermes? I definitely want to read about your cochineal concoction, but have always wondered about the earliest red dyes. I suspect the cochineal has some more desirable qualities and I look forward to learning more

Kermes has long, extensive use in the wool and rug trades...for centuries. I have  not seen reference to it in the varnish trade,in or out of violin making. I played with it years ago.

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On 10/15/2018 at 11:50 AM, Violadamore said:

Sounds to me like it has some bugs in it. :ph34r:;)

punned again... :wub:

Joe, the article was great!  Wondering why there wasn't more discussion here...

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On October 15, 30 Heisei at 6:51 AM, Melvin Goldsmith said:

Store bought varnish is never the answer unless you could be so lucky as Strad and del Gesu were and have a finishing shop up the road that did all the varnishing for you to order.

Lol

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

Are we certain that that's not the case though?

As a standard matter of scientific inquiry, the burden of proof is on the one making the positive affirmation. If there is no good evidence for Antonio shipping his in-the-white fiddles to the local furniture finishing shop, then the best we can say is "We do not know."

I want to point out that there are some very high-quality commercial products that work fine on violins, both oil and spirit based. Make a list of properties you want from the varnish, and go test. The main advantages of a high quality varnish from a well-established commercial firm are consistency of finish and resistance to aging effects.

Here is my list of properties in roughly order of importance:

Clarity

Color

Color Permanence

Thinness of Stable Coat

Hardness

Leveling

Structural Aging (Resistance to humidity, heat and light)

 

Of the list, I would not compromise on the first four.

The fifth item, hardness, is a finishing and wear issue. But many times one can select another product as a clear overcoat to make up for deficiencies in a base coat that hits the first four tick marks.

Leveling depends on the effect you are trying to achieve. Some like the texture of the wood to show through. Others prefer a smooth coat.

Structural aging is almost never a problem with a high quality product. Modern companies tend to extensively test the aging properties of their varnish and paint products targeting the high-end market.

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12 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

punned again... :wub:

Joe, the article was great!  Wondering why there wasn't more discussion here...

Thank you.   I had hoped to spark a bit of interest.

We are still researching.   Given the complexity of making this varnish it had to have been made by someone with broad knowledge and experience.

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13 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

punned again... :wub:

Joe, the article was great!  Wondering why there wasn't more discussion here...

 

Not everyone has access to articles published in The Strad, so......

 

47 minutes ago, joerobson said:

Thank you.   I had hoped to spark a bit of interest.

We are still researching.   Given the complexity of making this varnish it had to have been made by someone with broad knowledge and experience.

Many "eminent" violin makers when it comes to the manufacture of varnishes emphasize the rule of "keep it simple", so your statement seems to go against the trend.
Comments?

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:
 

Not everyone has access to articles published in The Strad, so.....

 

Many "eminent" violin makers when it comes to the manufacture of varnishes emphasize the rule of "keep it simple", so your statement seems to go against the trend.
Comments?

David,

This occurred to me also.   When it is proper to do so, I will add the article to my website.

Simplicity vs complexity.   Always an interesting discussion.   I am a cabinetmaker  by trade.  Give me spruce, ebony, and some nice maple and there are many beautiful  things I can make for you.  None of them would resemble a violin. 

So  varnish is simple.  Some resin, some oil, some turpentine and a willingness to try will often time yield a varnish.  Linseed oil,  pine resin, and cochineal is a simple list of ingredients.   They ought to  be simple to combine.   In my experience this was not the case.   Getting these materials to behave and produce the proper results took me years of trial and lots of error. Now it seems simple.  Perhaps someone else might find the process in an instant.  Not me.

So I am led to believe, short of genius or divine intervention,  that whoever made this varnish for the Stradivari shop was an experienced varnish maker.

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2 hours ago, joerobson said:

David,

This occurred to me also.   When it is proper to do so, I will add the article to my website.

Simplicity vs complexity.   Always an interesting discussion.   I am a cabinetmaker  by trade.  Give me spruce, ebony, and some nice maple and there are many beautiful  things I can make for you.  None of them would resemble a violin. 

So  varnish is simple.  Some resin, some oil, some turpentine and a willingness to try will often time yield a varnish.  Linseed oil,  pine resin, and cochineal is a simple list of ingredients.   They ought to  be simple to combine.   In my experience this was not the case.   Getting these materials to behave and produce the proper results took me years of trial and lots of error. Now it seems simple.  Perhaps someone else might find the process in an instant.  Not me.

So I am led to believe, short of genius or divine intervention,  that whoever made this varnish for the Stradivari shop was an experienced varnish maker.

 

Hi Joe, thanks for commenting.

I agree that actually even the simplest things are often such only in appearance, not in substance. :D

 

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On 10/15/2018 at 7:13 PM, joerobson said:

The article is "Scarlet Fever ".  It's the research and development of my Stradivari Cochineal Varnish.

Finally I was able to read the article, very interesting.

I have noticed that you are looking for many connections for the historical reliability of this varnish, so I wondered if you found examples of ancient procedures similar to yours.

I refer to the system of attaching the color to oil, because I never found anything about it in old manuscripts, but I did not do a real thorough research.

So I would like to ask, is this a procedure that took place in ancient times?

 

 

 

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ASTM D4303 - 10(2016) info-icon.png

Standard Test Methods for Lightfastness of Colorants Used in Artists' Materials

There are quantative methods to determine lightfastness, and commercial makers of violin varnish should be using them.  

As a reminder, reread Mrs Merrifield's recipe 399.  Rread Roger Hargraves' recipe for varnish in his treatise on making a bass.  Sometimes, it really is simple.

Mike D

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On 10/19/2018 at 7:09 PM, joerobson said:

Kermes has long, extensive use in the wool and rug trades...for centuries. I have  not seen reference to it in the varnish trade,in or out of violin making. I played with it years ago.

I believe that for most uses kermes and cochineal highly similar and reasonably interchangeable.  Doesn't the story go that cochineal displaced the use of kermes once it was available?

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On 10/19/2018 at 9:04 PM, Melvin Goldsmith said:

You think they did all the leatherwork on the cases they sold and made the rivets and hinges  and made their own strings?

I think that leatherwork, and the making of hinges and strings might be quite different from varnishing.

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On 11/3/2018 at 10:35 AM, Davide Sora said:
 

Finally I was able to read the article, very interesting.

 
I have noticed that you are looking for many connections for the historical reliability of this varnish, so I wondered if you found examples of ancient procedures similar to yours.
 

I refer to the system of attaching the color to oil, because I never found anything about it in old manuscripts, but I did not do a real thorough research.

 
So I would like to ask, is this a procedure that took place in ancient times?

 

 

 

David,

The materials I use have been available and known since ancient times.  The nature of these materials has not changed.

There is evidence of its use in the ancient rug trade.  As a violin varnish I see the evidence on Golden Period instruments from Stradivari, Bergonzi, and Guadagnini.  I am sure there are others, however I can only speak to what I have seen and examined.

Joe

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On 11/4/2018 at 1:58 AM, David Beard said:

I believe that for most uses kermes and cochineal highly similar and reasonably interchangeable.  Doesn't the story go that cochineal displaced the use of kermes once it was available?

Correct. However the Brandmair and Echard scientific examinations pointed directly to Mexican cochineal. 

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I am confused (again). To the varnish makers in this thread: Are you trying to develop a superb varnish that looks Cremonese (or even better), or are you recreating the Cremonese methods? For example, cochineal is historically valid as a colorant because  it was detected. Fine. But how it was fixed as a pigment in the varnish is just as important if you want an historically valid result. 

 

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40 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I am confused (again). To the varnish makers in this thread: Are you trying to develop a superb varnish that looks Cremonese (or even better), or are you recreating the Cremonese methods? For example, cochineal is historically valid as a colorant because  it was detected. Fine. But how it was fixed as a pigment in the varnish is just as important if you want an historically valid result. 

 

IMHO it was not fixed as a pigment.

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