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murray kuun

OIl or spirit varnish?

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Seems to be impossible for me to order oil varnish for delivery here in Africa (flammable).  I can get spirit varnish in powder form from Hammerl but in "my day" only oil varnish was acceptable, has that changed at all with the current ban of the transportation of flammable goods - is spirit varnish acceptable?  Or shall I resort to alternative methods like French polish perhaps?

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Ahhh...I didn't realize you were in Africa when I mentioned International Violin.  I don't really see a difference between spirit and french polish as far as "acceptable" go.  Spirit is fine to use if that's what you have to use.  I don't imagine you'd find much spirit varnish on competition winning instruments but good results can be had with it.  I can't achieve those results but I know a few people that can.  If you don't want to cook your own and you can't get oil varnish I would think spirit would be acceptable. 

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6 hours ago, murray kuun said:

Seems to be impossible for me to order oil varnish for delivery here in Africa (flammable).  I can get spirit varnish in powder form from Hammerl but in "my day" only oil varnish was acceptable, has that changed at all with the current ban of the transportation of flammable goods - is spirit varnish acceptable?  Or shall I resort to alternative methods like French polish perhaps?

I ship anywhere there is postal service.

Joe

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4 hours ago, joerobson said:

I ship anywhere there is postal service.

Joe

But I believe that it can not go air.

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Does anyone know where I can buy Fulton Varnish that has been made to be red in color? Actually, I would also be interested in Fulton varnish which is various shades of brown also.

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6 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

Does anyone know where I can buy Fulton Varnish that has been made to be red in color? Actually, I would also be interested in Fulton varnish which is various shades of brown also.

I am certain that there are many jars of this varnish lurking in violin makers' varnish cabinets.

Some one will share with you.

What is your interest in this varnish?

on we go,

Joe

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Joe: I made Fulton varnish in 1980's of the amber thru dark brown variety and have used it on the five violins I have made using UV lights to dry. I still have this batch and it is as good today as it was then. I guess it is all I know. But I did not make any of the red variety which is a little more difficult. I have had to add an alizarin crimson red to the browns to give a red tint. I live in the Syracuse NY area and I have thought about coming down to see you and learning more about the current violin varnishes. Is this possible? I like the Fulton varnish because it appears to not be too harmful to the sound of the instrument and goes on in thin coats. Some varnishes, especially the commercial ones, are like coating the violin in 3mil plastic; quite deadening to the sound. I use a sealer/ground to prevent the varnish from penetrating the violin. I have found the red color to be difficult to use to get the desired result, either a red which is not pink or a nice golden brown with a hint or orange in it. The Fulton is possibly brittle an apt to chip if hit but that is better than the plastic coating of normal varnishes. Well anyways, that is my interest. Thank you for your interest.

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Joe I'm curious about Fulton,  just wondering in what ways does the resulting resin differ from regular pine resin that results from distilling away the turpentine?    I saw a youtube video of a guy making the Fulton resin and it had a nice looking color.  

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7 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

Does anyone know where I can buy Fulton Varnish that has been made to be red in color? Actually, I would also be interested in Fulton varnish which is various shades of brown also.

Bill Fulton was kind of a pioneer in getting contemporary makers to switch back(?) to oil varnishes.  I personally got a lot of help from him. so I need to give him credit for his experiments, and all the time he spent dinking around with me.

That said, there may be some issues, as he and the rest of us continued to learn.

Today, I'm a bit fearful of incorporating iron products into varnish. Not only are there historical warnings, but some of my own Fulton-based varnishes have darkened considerably over time.

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48 minutes ago, MikeC said:

Joe I'm curious about Fulton,  just wondering in what ways does the resulting resin differ from regular pine resin that results from distilling away the turpentine?    I saw a youtube video of a guy making the Fulton resin and it had a nice looking color.  

 
I think the main difference lies in the fact that the "Fulton resin" has a very low acidity while the normal rosin is quite acidic. But it would be better if someone who understands chemistry better than me could refute or confirm this statement....

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10 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Today, I'm a bit fearful of incorporating iron products into varnish. Not only are there historical warnings, but some of my own Fulton-based varnishes have darkened considerably over time.

It is precious to know these details from direct experience and surely this is an aspect that deserves consideration, but I think the iron issue is a little more complex, otherwise how would it be that in the ancient Cremonese varnishes traces of iron are very often found?

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57 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

It is precious to know these details from direct experience and surely this is an aspect that deserves consideration, but I think the iron issue is a little more complex, otherwise how would it be that in the ancient Cremonese varnishes traces of iron are very often found?

It may be an issue of quantity, or reactivity. Traces of iron can be found in just about anything on our planet.

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

It is precious to know these details from direct experience and surely this is an aspect that deserves consideration, but I think the iron issue is a little more complex, otherwise how would it be that in the ancient Cremonese varnishes traces of iron are very often found?

I am cautious about information that says "x,y or z" may be in there based on older analysis, particularly anything that detects "trace" amounts. Meaning things can be found, but that does not mean they were actually part of the recipe and may be artifacts or contamination.

I feel as David says quantity along with reactivity, most likely to do with a varnish's ability to check or fissure in a microscopic way that would allow the intrusion of vapor or introduce bound water from the material.

If there is any amount of iron in there, it must be suspended in a way that prevents exposure to air, and the ground must prevent bound water from the material reacting with it.

Or as maybe suggested, in the right proportions, maybe the reaction was expected and used as a colorant.

 

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

It may be an issue of quantity, or reactivity. Traces of iron can be found in just about anything on our planet.

 

27 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

I am cautious about information that says "x,y or z" may be in there based on older analysis, particularly anything that detects "trace" amounts. Meaning things can be found, but that does not mean they were actually part of the recipe and may be artifacts or contamination.

I feel as David says quantity along with reactivity, most likely to do with a varnish's ability to check or fissure in a microscopic way that would allow the intrusion of vapor or introduce bound water from the material.

If there is any amount of iron in there, it must be suspended in a way that prevents exposure to air, and the ground must prevent bound water from the material reacting with it.

Or as maybe suggested, in the right proportions, maybe the reaction was expected and used as a colorant.

 

This is true, but the chemists (I refer to the non-invasive analysis laboratory of the University of Pavia hosted at the Museo del Violino and headed by Marco Malagodi, who analyzed many instruments from 2014 to date) argue that the quantities are too significant to be attributed to natural causes or accidental contamination.  When solicited (by makers anxious to get certainties as usual....:rolleyes:) to give an answer on what may be the cause of the presence of iron , he puts forward the hypothesis of the use of earth pigments as red ochre or other similar earth with high iron content, even venturing the hypothesis that they could be found in the preparation of wood or in the sealer because traces of iron are often found in the substrate near the wood.

So maybe not in the varnish and maybe this may be the reason why they don't darken the varnish, who knows.

Obviously, being a serious scientist, he insistently insist that these are only hypotheses and ideas that have no confirmation, the only certainty is the analytical data of what they find in relation to the investigation systems available to them, the rest are only pure illations.

Things become very complicated  and difficult to interpret when analyzing ancient violins with intensive use for centuries.....caution is always mandatory.

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Agreed, I'm ok and have found peace with the fact that I'll probably never know these things. I'm glad it's not my job to know all the things that are unknowable and that for me it's just an adventure in speculation :lol:

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As a general rule, spirit varnishes dry quick and so do not require special care to avoid dust and nits. Multiple, thin layers are easy to do without causing problems. Multiple layers can be a challenge to apply evenly, and usually requires some skill with French polishing techniques or sanding. One can polish the finish to any degree of smoothness and gloss.

Oil finishes take a long time to dry and may require special drying processes, like UV cabinets. Special care is needed to avoid dust and nits getting stuck in the finish. Many oil varnishes require light sanding between coats to avoid peeling, but makes them susceptible to a phenomenon called "ghosting" if one sands to aggressively. Thick or thin layers are trivial to apply. Oil varnishes tend to go on smoothly and evenly. Polishing a finish can be tricky.

You might consider basing your decision on what resources you have available, and how much time you are willing to spend mastering the techniques needed for each type of varnish.

 

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4 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

 

This is true, but the chemists (I refer to the non-invasive analysis laboratory of the University of Pavia hosted at the Museo del Violino and headed by Marco Malagodi, who analyzed many instruments from 2014 to date) argue that the quantities are too significant to be attributed to natural causes or accidental contamination.  When solicited (by makers anxious to get certainties as usual....:rolleyes:) to give an answer on what may be the cause of the presence of iron , he puts forward the hypothesis of the use of earth pigments as red ochre or other similar earth with high iron content, even venturing the hypothesis that they could be found in the preparation of wood or in the sealer because traces of iron are often found in the substrate near the wood.

So maybe not in the varnish and maybe this may be the reason why they don't darken the varnish, who knows.

Obviously, being a serious scientist, he insistently insist that these are only hypotheses and ideas that have no confirmation, the only certainty is the analytical data of what they find in relation to the investigation systems available to them, the rest are only pure illations.

Things become very complicated  and difficult to interpret when analyzing ancient violins with intensive use for centuries.....caution is always mandatory.

In the case of Fulton varnish, Fulton recommended the deliberate addition of various iron compounds, from rusty nails, to rusted steel wool, to steel wool dissolved in acetic acid (iron acetate?) to ferric sulphate (another he recommended was manganese napthenate), and which one he recommended changed over the years. Supposedly, these acted as a catalyst, and did not remain in the varnish.

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11 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

Joe: I made Fulton varnish in 1980's of the amber thru dark brown variety and have used it on the five violins I have made using UV lights to dry. I still have this batch and it is as good today as it was then. I guess it is all I know. But I did not make any of the red variety which is a little more difficult. I have had to add an alizarin crimson red to the browns to give a red tint. I live in the Syracuse NY area and I have thought about coming down to see you and learning more about the current violin varnishes. Is this possible? I like the Fulton varnish because it appears to not be too harmful to the sound of the instrument and goes on in thin coats. Some varnishes, especially the commercial ones, are like coating the violin in 3mil plastic; quite deadening to the sound. I use a sealer/ground to prevent the varnish from penetrating the violin. I have found the red color to be difficult to use to get the desired result, either a red which is not pink or a nice golden brown with a hint or orange in it. The Fulton is possibly brittle an apt to chip if hit but that is better than the plastic coating of normal varnishes. Well anyways, that is my interest. Thank you for your interest.

Greg,

Give me a call and we'll make a plan to get together.

More comments on Fulton varnish tomorrow.

Joe

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Fulton Varnish.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Bill Fulton for re-introducing a way for oil varnish to be made for stringed instruments.

Terpene resin and terpene resin varnish are originally common to the print industry.  There are some pigments...I think some of the greens....that require a ph neutral medium to be color stable. 

The varnish can be used very well if applied in thin coats.  It is quite protective.  However it does not wear in the way we observe on old or aging instruments.  It is very hard and instead of wearing off, as it ages and is used, it develops a surface of tiny but distinct scratches.

On the question of iron.

All contemporary scientific examinations of the Stradivari varnish indicate the presence of iron.  Whether this is intentionally added or not needs yet to be determined.  Iron oxides in their pure form are crystalline.   As I am told, this structure can be translated into the source of the iron oxide.  If the iron is amorphous, then the source is most likely cooking in a cast iron pot.

I cook in a cast iron pot.

on we go,

Joe

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57 minutes ago, joerobson said:

All contemporary scientific examinations of the Stradivari varnish indicate the presence of iron. 

Which of the many forms of iron, and in what quantity?

This could make quite a difference, since even iron oxide isn't necessarily inert. ;)

For example, exposing iron oxide to tannic acid will yield ferric tannate, which is blue-black in color.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Which of the many forms of iron, and in what quantity?

This could make quite a difference, since even iron oxide isn't necessarily inert. ;)

For example, exposing iron oxide to tannic acid will yield ferric tannate, which is blue-black in color.

David,

One of the issues is that we don't know precisely.   Though we do know they are not large.

Joe

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Which of the many forms of iron, and in what quantity?

This could make quite a difference, since even iron oxide isn't necessarily inert. ;)

For example, exposing iron oxide to tannic acid will yield ferric tannate, which is blue-black in color.

Yes. The low pH phenols in tannin (tannic "acid") can react with normally stable  red ferric oxide changing it to black ferrous oxide. However, if you isolate (encapsulate) the iron, it will remain stabile. 

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28 minutes ago, joerobson said:

David,

One of the issues is that we don't know precisely.   Though we do know they are not large.

Joe

In some formulations of Fulton varnish, they certainly are!  Just because a major issue does't rear its ugly head for 20-30 years or so, doesn't mean it's not there.

I've devoted a great deal of time to experimenting with varnishes for a very very long time. Probably could have made 250 more instruments, had I not gone off on that tangent.

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1 minute ago, David Burgess said:

In some formulations of Fulton varnish, they certainly are!  Just because a major issue don't rear its ugly head for 20-30 years or so, doesn't mean it's not there.

I've devoted a great deal of time to experimenting with varnishes for a very very long time.

Agreed.   I have seen disasters related to the iron content.  I  never have seen that on any classic Cremonese instrument.

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