Sign in to follow this  
JacksonMaberry

Patina, Schmutz, etc

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

I've never antiqued before and I'm not aiming to dig too heavily into it, but I'd like to give an instrument I'm just done varnishing maybe 30-50 years of 'age'. I'm wanting to approximate the appearance of a well-maintained museum piece, something that is old but never saw much use before ending up behind glass. I remember @Conor Russell saying in a thread once before that he likes to do this sort of very modest antiquing, if I recall correctly. Conor, if you would be so kind as to give me some recommendations, and anyone else with experience in this matter. I would be very grateful!

Thank you,

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you want to simulate varnish wear, or just dirt? No shading?

For dirt I use various oil paints, straight from the tube, rubbed onto the area, then wiped off with a sheet of paper. (Ordinary printer paper) This allows the color to get into any nooks and crannies and stay there while being removed from the surface. Of course, the surface that you are starting with will determine what you can and can't do. A perfect, smooth, glass-like finish won't take the oil, as there are no nooks to fill, but I don't like that look anyway.

Share this post


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

........ I'd like to give an instrument I'm just done varnishing maybe 30-50 years of 'age'. ......

Have you considered putting it in a Jr. High rental pool for a semester?  :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Have you considered putting it in a Jr. High rental pool for a semester?  :huh:

Not a bad thought, but schools here are closed due to the pandemic and I don't think they offer Lira da Braccio lessons in the Washington State public schools. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate the suggestions so far! I have some blacks and browns in oil color, and will consider that a part of the tool kit. Mostly just going for Schmutz, rather than wear. Imagine an instrument that was given as a gift and then just shelved for a generation or two before being sold into a permanent collection. 

@Advocatus DiaboliDiaboli what would you suggest for inducing some crackle? I've heard of nussbaum being used for this, I think? 

I'll post pics of the instrument tomorrow once the final color coat is dry. It's just got three thinned out coats of iron rosinate oil varnish I made on it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems to me that a convincing subtle effect would be more difficult than a heavy-handed one. I'm watching this topic because I'll be approaching this stage soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

 Imagine an instrument that was given as a gift and then just shelved for a generation or two before being sold into a permanent collection. 

I bought a Gibson Studio that looked like someone puked in it and shut the lid for a while.  Clean up with turtlewax.  Nasty.

Since everything is the same color with your varnish maybe just add darker shading from the wings to the purfling or the edges fading out to the corners.  Maybe a little bit of shading from the soundholes to the bridge area and rubbing down? obvious hand and arm/leg resting areas  - not sure how that type of instrument is played.  

I like to think making a violin old looking from the start just may help keep the instrument in the players hand a little longer time wise per day.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, TJ Fuss said:

Seems to me that a convincing subtle effect would be more difficult than a heavy-handed one. I'm watching this topic because I'll be approaching this stage soon.

 I totally agree. 

Share this post


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

Imagine an instrument that was given as a gift and then just shelved for a generation or two before being sold into a permanent collection. 

@Advocatus Diaboli

 

Such an instrument wouldn't look far away from being new.

Antiquing to mimic older and more-used instruments convincingly is a super-high skill-set, and my guess is that one won't even scratch the surface without major in-person training.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Such an instrument wouldn't look far away from being new.

Antiquing to mimic older and more-used instruments convincingly is a super-high skill-set, and my guess is that one won't even scratch the surface without major in-person training.

I haven't had any training in antiquing, but I look forward to seeking out some high quality in person instruction on the subject as soon as I can. Thanks for your perspective as always, David! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jackson,

I often do this kind of fifty year antiquing and the most important thing is to find a good example to copy. Eric Blot's books are full of nice mid 20th century instruments and I reccomend looking at them. 

I always do any needed wear in the wood first before the first coats of varnish  and rub a very, very light haze of dry dirt colors into the wood any place the varnish will be totally worn away.

Don't try to do everything all at once. I do a few dings of various kinds between varnish layers so that the damage appears to be of different ages. There are different kinds of marks which occur from different causes; scratches that break all the way through the varnish, dents which don't actually break the varnish at all and wear that happens over some years of use which can be either chippy edged from finger nails or the frog of the bow or smooth from hands or clothing. Very important to think about what caused each mark or wear spot and what direction the damage came from. Bow damage on the treble  C of a violin for instance almost always comes perpendicular to the strings while chips where the bow strikes the top when positioning the hand for pizzicato comes from above.

Lastly be very careful about what colors you use in nicks and scratches. I avoid black almost completely. Most dirt is gray ,brown or greenish and all of them look darker when you varnish or polish over them. Argles' trick with oil color rubbed off with newspaper works well but I do it to individual marks or small areas alternating and mixing ochers, umbers and grays I also   use water color or colored chalk on other marks to simulate different ages and origins.

Randomness is your friend and a light hand always best. As Joe Robson says think of how much wear you want to see and then do a tenth of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Advocatus Diaboli said:

Good crackle is your friend.  Dry rosin dust and dirt will also be a help. 

15 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

... what would you suggest for inducing some crackle? I've heard of nussbaum being used for this, I think? 

Walnut crystals, gum arabic, egg white, and other water-soluble resins or proteins seem to be used.  The problem is that there are many other variables that determine whether you end up with a nice crackle or a disaster... heat gun temperature and how long it is applied, the viscosity of the crackle solution, the type of varnish used, how long the varnish has dried, how thick the varnish is, etc.

Here is a video of how one person does it, which is probably different from how others might do it (I have been doing it differently).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Page 61 in "Violin Fraud" by Harvey and Shapreau contains an important contribution to faking.  This is the reproduction of a letter by a famous  violin forger which was written to Edward Heron-Allen in 1894.  It is a detailed step by step process for faking Cremona instruments.  And parts of this will help you.  For example:  the faker talks about making a special glove with attached horse-hair to rapidly wear certain areas of the instrument.

Mike D

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Jackson,

I often do this kind of fifty year antiquing and the most important thing is to find a good example to copy. Eric Blot's books are full of nice mid 20th century instruments and I reccomend looking at them. 

I always do any needed wear in the wood first before the first coats of varnish  and rub a very, very light haze of dry dirt colors into the wood any place the varnish will be totally worn away.

Don't try to do everything all at once. I do a few dings of various kinds between varnish layers so that the damage appears to be of different ages. There are different kinds of marks which occur from different causes; scratches that break all the way through the varnish, dents which don't actually break the varnish at all and wear that happens over some years of use which can be either chippy edged from finger nails or the frog of the bow or smooth from hands or clothing. Very important to think about what caused each mark or wear spot and what direction the damage came from. Bow damage on the treble  C of a violin for instance almost always comes perpendicular to the strings while chips where the bow strikes the top when positioning the hand for pizzicato comes from above.

Lastly be very careful about what colors you use in nicks and scratches. I avoid black almost completely. Most dirt is gray ,brown or greenish and all of them look darker when you varnish or polish over them. Argles' trick with oil color rubbed off with newspaper works well but I do it to individual marks or small areas alternating and mixing ochers, umbers and grays I also   use water color or colored chalk on other marks to simulate different ages and origins.

Randomness is your friend and a light hand always best. As Joe Robson says think of how much wear you want to see and then do a tenth of it.

I very much appreciate the time and thought, Nathan. I will keep all of this in mind in the future. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

I'll post pics of the instrument tomorrow once the final color coat is dry. It's just got three thinned out coats of iron rosinate oil varnish I made on it. 

 

IMG_20200905_085133.jpg

IMG_20200905_085158.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forget what I mentioned about shading from the wings to the edges - with this type of instrument I'd want a light weight along with good and I guess a powerful tone when needed.

I did notice one you tuber where the soundhole region appears shaded but I also noticed she didn't venture very far out of first position.  Just do her up with nice looking accessories and leave it at that.

I did notice another one via you tube with the maple fingerboard.  Seems like a stradivari lookin' finish on that one.  

I've always thought the makers who introduce the screwdriver dent techniques of aging seem to make their antique work look the best. I haven't tried their way yet - too scared.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great topic.

Here is one trick.  Instead of traditional oil colors try these water misable oil colors by Windsor Newton.   If you don't like what you have done, wash it off.  If you like it, leave it.   These actually dry.

on we go,

Joe

20200905_131002.jpg

Share this post


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

Great topic.

Here is one trick.  Instead of traditional oil colors try these water misable oil colors by Windsor Newton.   If you don't like what you have done, wash it off.  If you like it, leave it.   These actually dry.

on we go,

Joe

20200905_131002.jpg

Dynamite tip, Joe. Thank you. Thanks for making a fantastic ground, too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing. 

For one large-ish scratch, make 10 medium ones, 100 small, hardly visible ones, and 1000 that won't be visible unless you use a loupe. 

When you're done, clean the large one because that's what almost anyone would do on an old instrument... 

Share this post


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

Doing decent antiquing is difficult. I won’t even try it after seeing so many disasters at VSA shows. It is a major skill set as Burgess mentioned.

Having spent a lot of time around judges at the major competitions, I'd say that it's a lot better to not attempt it, than to do it unconvincingly.

Share this post


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

Another thing. 

For one large-ish scratch, make 10 medium ones, 100 small, hardly visible ones, and 100 that won't be visible unless you use a loupe. 

When you're done, clean the large one because that's what almost anyone would do on an old instrument... 

Good point.  Polished out dings are almost impossible to see, but it won’t look right without them.  Even rattling around in a case without being played can ding up a violin. 
 

Everything Don said about crackle is worth listening to.  What I’ve noticed is that good varnish will usually always crackle the right way, unless you’re really abusing it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Having spent a lot of time around judges at the major competitions, I'd say that it's a lot better to not attempt it, than to do it unconvincingly.

I definitely agree that judges at major (and even minor) competitions know what real old instruments look like, and usually subtract points for antiquing that doesn't measure up.  However, if the goal is to sell instruments, the judges aren't the ones who will be buying them, and most violinists have a much lower standard of authenticity... but still prefer something that kinda doesn't look shiny new.

 

14 hours ago, Advocatus Diaboli said:

Polished out dings are almost impossible to see, but it won’t look right without them.  Even rattling around in a case without being played can ding up a violin. 

I have noticed that during the crackling process, even the spaces between the crackle get some leathery texture, which I think helps with a more authentic aged look, especially when polished down a bit.  Flat, shiny plateaus between the crackle valleys would look odd.

Share this post


Link to post
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...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.