Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Help with putting natural colors into spirit varnish


Kae
 Share

Recommended Posts

Currently, I'm working on re-varnishing my #1 violin.  The varnish that I use this time is spirit varnish, containing shellac and all kinds of resin dissolved in denatured alcohol.  For the yellow color, I mixed gamboge tincture into the clear varnish and have a good result.   For the red?  I still don't have any idea yet.  (I'm trying not to use artificial dyes.) 

What I've got in hand are dragon blood, dried madder roots, ready-made madder lake and cochineal lake. ( but I don't have any experience with any of these. )  From the books and pest threads on MN, I learned that dragon blood loses its color very quickly so I don't think I'm going to use it...   I naively mixed the lace to my spirit varnish,  but the lake precipitates rather quickly. If I apply the mixture right after I give it a shake, the color still doesn't look homogeneous enough...  May be lakes don't go well with spirit varnish, or I used them in the wrong way.  And now I'm thinking about cooking the madder roots in alcohol.  Is that worth trying?    Could some body here on MN give me your precious advices?   Thanks a lot!

 

-Kae

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Kae,

recently, Nathan Slobodkin shared here on Maestronet some very interesting information on Dragon's Blood.

You can try to make a search; if I remember well, the thread was about copying a Annibale Fagnola's violin.

Basically, you have to "burn" the Dragon's Blood before mixing the varnish in. Follow his directions!

For me, the best way to add color to spirit varnish is by adding liquid "extracts", a small quantity on each coat.

Take a spare violin rib, the best would be having one with the same ground you had used for your violin, and remember to use it every time as a test before starting a new coat. You will be able to judge if you can add a little color and how much.

Personally, I have selected aloe resin, gamboge and alkanet root. A rosewood extract can be used sparingly for brown (not very transparent). The Orasol 2RL Brown synthetic dye (alcohol-soluble) can be used instead. Sandalwood also can be used but, I find it boring and it's not very stable. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of the stuff you are talking about Dragons blood, lac etc. are not used in the varnish! The colors can be extracted from them in various ways and then added to the varnish as color concentrates.  I believe you should be able to find my method of preparing DB color on this forum in several places so I won't go through it again unless necessary (very slow typist). The instruments I used this varnish color on look just fine after 25 or more years and my test strips have been in a window since 1993 and the exposed color continues to get darker and redder. I have not used Lac with (zinc?) but have heard it is also light fast and it is a beautiful color . Don't know about gamboge except as an isolating some what opaque ground coat and it is seriously poisonous so.......

Aloe is very complicated chemically and has both water and alcohol soluble components which do funny stuff when mixed with other things but does fine as a ground color by itself. I expect there is a lot of info out there about how to use it in various ways and that ,again, color can be extracted from it so that the resin itself does not have to be used .

General rule: Pigments go in oil , concentrated tinctures or extracts go in alcohol.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am going to use the word "stain" to mean color applied directly to the wood before the varnish, and "toner" to mean color added to the varnish.

You need to decide if you want to "stain" the wood or "tone" the varnish because this decision sets limits on what you can use to achieve the effects.

In general, staining with dyes (transparent colors) or pigments (opaque colors) gives a wider choice of coloring options than toning the varnish. This is because bare  wood will accept a wide variety of solvents used for dyes and pigments. But the solvents used for varnishes are not compatible with all dyes and pigments.

For toning shellac, which is alcohol based, you will be restricted to natural dyes and pigments that are dissolvable in alcohol. Some water solvent dyes and pigments are compatible with alcohol solvents by first dissolving them in water and then combining with alcohol before adding to the shellac.

Here is a reference for a large number of natural colors:  

http://www.allnaturaldyeing.com/natural-dye-colors/

You will need to experiment with using them as toners for shellac. There is also a high chance that most will not be color fast since you will not be using mordants typical to cloth dyeing that fix the colors to the cloth.

Here is an extensive reference of mostly pigments. Be aware that pigments typically require a oil-based solvent, so most will not be compatible with shellac as a toner. But the list also contains natural pigments which may be water or alcohol soluble. You also have the option to use them as stains rather than toners.

http://www.artiscreation.com/red.html#.XZN-G25FyUk

If the goal is to get something done with the least pain and most flexibility, consider Transtints. Highly transparent, reasonably color fast, wide variety of colors to mix and match, compatible as a toner for shellac or as stains applied directly to the wood.

 

Edited by ctanzio
formatting
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, ctanzio said:

I am going to use the word "stain" to mean color applied directly to the wood before the varnish, and "toner" to mean color added to the varnish.

You need to decide if you want to "stain" the wood or "tone" the varnish because this decision sets limits on what you can use to achieve the effects.

In general, staining with dyes (transparent colors) or pigments (opaque colors) gives a wider choice of coloring options than toning the varnish. This is because bare  wood will accept a wide variety of solvents used for dyes and pigments. But the solvents used for varnishes are not compatible with all dyes and pigments.

For toning shellac, which is alcohol based, you will be restricted to natural dyes and pigments that are dissolvable in alcohol. Some water solvent dyes and pigments are compatible with alcohol solvents by first dissolving them in water and then combining with alcohol before adding to the shellac.

Here is a reference for a large number of natural colors:  

http://www.allnaturaldyeing.com/natural-dye-colors/

You will need to experiment with using them as toners for shellac. There is also a high chance that most will not be color fast since you will not be using mordants typical to cloth dyeing that fix the colors to the cloth.

Here is an extensive reference of mostly pigments. Be aware that pigments typically require a oil-based solvent, so most will not be compatible with shellac as a toner. But the list also contains natural pigments which may be water or alcohol soluble. You also have the option to use them as stains rather than toners.

http://www.artiscreation.com/red.html#.XZN-G25FyUk

If the goal is to get something done with the least pain and most flexibility, consider Transtints. Highly transparent, reasonably color fast, wide variety of colors to mix and match, compatible as a toner for shellac or as stains applied directly to the wood.

 

My vote is for Transtint. Be careful...a little bit goes a long way!

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Giovanni Corazzol said:

Hello Kae,

recently, Nathan Slobodkin shared here on Maestronet some very interesting information on Dragon's Blood.

....

 

10 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Most of the stuff you are talking about Dragons blood, lac etc. are not used in the varnish! The colors can be extracted from them in various ways and then added to the varnish as color concentrates.  I believe you should be able to find my method of preparing DB color on this forum in several places so I won't go through it again unless necessary (very slow typist). .....

Thank you for responding to my post!   I just did some quick search here on MN, and found one of Nathan's early post about extracting color from Dragon Blood.  Putting the link here for people who might be interested.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, ctanzio said:

....

For toning shellac, which is alcohol based, you will be restricted to natural dyes and pigments that are dissolvable in alcohol. Some water solvent dyes and pigments are compatible with alcohol solvents by first dissolving them in water and then combining with alcohol before adding to the shellac.

Here is a reference for a large number of natural colors:  

....

Wouldn't the water ruin the alcohol varnish?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Kae said:

Wouldn't the water ruin the alcohol varnish?  

The answer is sometimes depending on the amount of water, how it is mixed with the spirit varnish and if it is a shellac, whether or not it is dewaxed.

For example, I've had success dissolving RIT colorants in a small amount of water, adding a lot of alcohol, filtering the solution, then adding to dewaxed shellac. The browns and reds give a decent, stable finish. I would still recommend using Transtints though. The use of RIT was just an experiment in chemistry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Can that rule be extended to: concentrated tinctures or extracts go in alcohol or turpentine?

Alcohol acts as a weak "polar" solvent, while turpentine does not. It is considered a non-polar solvent. That means that most dyes that readily dissolve in alcohol will not dissolve in turpentine.

However, alcohol is one of those solvents that will mix with many polar and non-polar liquids. So once something is dissolved in alcohol, you can sometimes mix that solution with water, a polar solvent, or turpentine, a non-polar solvent. There is a limit to how much of each can be mixed together.

Best advice I can give is try it an see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem and or challenge using tinted spirit is this;

Spirit varnish can not be applied thick.coats must be thin and even

due to this fact, regardless of how "loaded" your varnish is with color, you will not achieve a celebration of color saturation in an individual layer

due to this fact, in order to start to see the color many layers of coats need to be built up

due to this fact, application of multiple layers, we have a distinct challenge of trying to apply coats on top of each other while trying to not "disturb" the previous coats.

each succeeding layer will want to "melt" the layer underneath, if you are not lightning quick, and not able to NOT MESS WITH IT by trying to straighten out streaks or drips there is a good chance you will build say 4 to 5 layers, start to see color, and then on the 6 or 7th coat totally mess it up by transdermally melting through previous coats, where suddenly your brush act like an eraser that will "burn" or melt through into the previous layers, thus turning it into an ugly mess.

technically spirit needs 45 min to "dry" , but after 3 coats I would suggest additional dry times between coats as color starts to build, you want your under coats to be "shelled" over and not so prone to melting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

jezzupe points out one of the fundamental challenges of spirit varnishes in general and shellacs specifically. New coats will melt into previous coats. This is both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is that you need no special preparation of the previous coat before adding a new coat. Also, shellac finishes are very compatible with sanding methods (as an alternative to French polishing techniques).

The curse is if you are heavy handed with the application of an additional coat, you can easily melt through all the previous coats and practically expose the raw wood underneath. So it takes some practice to master its application.

In contrast, oil varnishes are almost foolproof to apply, assuming one doesn't go too overboard in applying a thick coat and the room is relatively dust free. But they frequently require some prep of the previous coat before applying a new coat, like light sanding, in order to avoid peeling issues. Also, there is a host of problems that can occur when attempting to apply sanding methods to oil varnishes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, ctanzio said:

Alcohol acts as a weak "polar" solvent, while turpentine does not. It is considered a non-polar solvent. That means that most dyes that readily dissolve in alcohol will not dissolve in turpentine.

However, alcohol is one of those solvents that will mix with many polar and non-polar liquids. So once something is dissolved in alcohol, you can sometimes mix that solution with water, a polar solvent, or turpentine, a non-polar solvent. There is a limit to how much of each can be mixed together.

Best advice I can give is try it an see.

Thanks.

21 hours ago, jezzupe said:

The problem and or challenge using tinted spirit is this;

Spirit varnish can not be applied thick.coats must be thin and even

due to this fact, regardless of how "loaded" your varnish is with color, you will not achieve a celebration of color saturation in an individual layer

due to this fact, in order to start to see the color many layers of coats need to be built up

due to this fact, application of multiple layers, we have a distinct challenge of trying to apply coats on top of each other while trying to not "disturb" the previous coats.

each succeeding layer will want to "melt" the layer underneath, if you are not lightning quick, and not able to NOT MESS WITH IT by trying to straighten out streaks or drips there is a good chance you will build say 4 to 5 layers, start to see color, and then on the 6 or 7th coat totally mess it up by transdermally melting through previous coats, where suddenly your brush act like an eraser that will "burn" or melt through into the previous layers, thus turning it into an ugly mess.

technically spirit needs 45 min to "dry" , but after 3 coats I would suggest additional dry times between coats as color starts to build, you want your under coats to be "shelled" over and not so prone to melting.

I've been experimenting with aniline dyes dissolved in propanol , making it very thin with methanol, mixing with cold raw linseed oil, turpentine and rosin. Super thin layers put on polished by hand and wiped dry with tissue minutes later. The colour sits nicely in the layers but....

21 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Whether or not a color will "go into" a varnish medium can be much different than whether or not it will be fade-resistant in that particular medium.

time will tell for me.

Sorry this has nothing to do with shellac varnishing, but still somewhat relevant to the thread I hope?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Thanks.

I've been experimenting with aniline dyes dissolved in propanol , making it very thin with methanol, mixing with cold raw linseed oil, turpentine and rosin. Super thin layers put on polished by hand and wiped dry with tissue minutes later. The colour sits nicely in the layers but....

time will tell for me.

Sorry this has nothing to do with shellac varnishing, but still somewhat relevant to the thread I hope?

If you want to research lightfast colors I suggest looking into the world of coloring fabrics and yarn. Fabrics make a good litmus test for wood. If something holds well in fabric or yarn, it generally will hold well when used on wood

There is a mordant compound that occurs naturally in Rubarb, Anthraquinone, that can be used to derive many dye colors

Anthraquinone, in coming years will be extremely valuable {stock tip} as new research is developing it for the use in aluminium batteries which will replace lithium ion,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

If you want to research lightfast colors I suggest looking into the world of coloring fabrics and yarn. Fabrics make a good litmus test for wood. If something holds well in fabric or yarn, it generally will hold well when used on wood

There is a mordant compound that occurs naturally in Rubarb, Anthraquinone, that can be used to derive many dye colors

Anthraquinone, in coming years will be extremely valuable {stock tip} as new research is developing it for the use in aluminium batteries which will replace lithium ion,

Yes thanks, I'm interested in this and every time I pass plants where the green has faded to purples, reds and yellows, my sense of wonder is piqued

On ‎10‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 5:32 PM, ctanzio said:

Here is a reference for a large number of natural colors:  

http://www.allnaturaldyeing.com/natural-dye-colors/

 

I'm experiencing turmeric root sock envy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/1/2019 at 5:09 PM, Giovanni Corazzol said:

....

Personally, I have selected aloe resin, gamboge and alkanet root. A rosewood extract can be used sparingly for brown (not very transparent). The Orasol 2RL Brown synthetic dye (alcohol-soluble) can be used instead. Sandalwood also can be used but, I find it boring and it's not very stable. 

Giovanni,

Do you extract the color of alkanet root by soking them in alcohol, or by  some other tricker method?

Kae

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/1/2019 at 5:41 PM, nathan slobodkin said:

Most of the stuff you are talking about Dragons blood, lac etc. are not used in the varnish! The colors can be extracted from them in various ways and then added to the varnish as color concentrates.  I believe you should be able to find my method of preparing DB color on this forum in several places so I won't go through it again unless necessary (very slow typist). The instruments I used this varnish color on look just fine after 25 or more years and my test strips have been in a window since 1993 and the exposed color continues to get darker and redder. I have not used Lac with (zinc?) but have heard it is also light fast and it is a beautiful color . Don't know about gamboge except as an isolating some what opaque ground coat and it is seriously poisonous so.......

Aloe is very complicated chemically and has both water and alcohol soluble components which do funny stuff when mixed with other things but does fine as a ground color by itself. I expect there is a lot of info out there about how to use it in various ways and that ,again, color can be extracted from it so that the resin itself does not have to be used .

General rule: Pigments go in oil , concentrated tinctures or extracts go in alcohol.

Nathan,

Yesterday, I tried burning some Dragon Blood alcohol solutions according the method described in you earlier post.  I waited 2 hours for the fire to go off.   It seemed that the fire went off because of lacking of oxygen.  Therefore, I lit it up several times until I gave up.

The remaining stuff was thicker liquid.  Is that what I was supposed to get?   Should I keep on burning it in a shorter jar?

One thing need to  mention is that the DB had only been soaked in alcohol for one day, but its a lot of DB comparing to the amount of alcohol.

 

Kae

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/4/2019 at 7:57 AM, Michael_Molnar said:

Imagine what the world would be like if natural organic pigments were not fugitive. :huh: Anyhow, along comes Homo Sapiens to stir things up. 

I think that's the problem,everything is supposed to fade away and we just don't want to let it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...