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JacksonMaberry

Patina, Schmutz, etc

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On 9/8/2020 at 4:53 AM, pbelin said:

There are very few Strads with ugly cracks, 

Those are the ones i was talking about then :)

Something has been gnawing at me forever.  A high percentage of instruments 100 years old look practically new.  But --  the familiar 400 year old instruments (just 4x the time) look beat half to death. 

Or another way of looking at it, my favorite is 20 yrs old.  It's nowhere near 1/20 of the way to being practically obliterated.  Nowhere near 1/20 the way toward losing most of its varnish, being packed with dirt, etc.

Is most of the damage 400 yr old instruments incurred due to one or a few early undocumented owners who used it as a shovel to plant potatoes?  Lots of very interesting statistical questions lurking there

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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

Is most of the damage 400 yr old instruments incurred due to one or a few early undocumented owners who used it as a shovel to plant potatoes?  Lots of very interesting statistical questions lurking there

I don't think potatoes were common at the time :-).

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3 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

 

Is most of the damage 400 yr old instruments incurred due to one or a few early undocumented owners who used it as a shovel to plant potatoes?  Lots of very interesting statistical questions lurking there

It is my understanding that most of the varnish effects on early instruments, Cremonese in particular, occurred in the first couple of decades of their life. This is a reflection of the nature of the varnish (soft at first) and the utility of the instrument (they were sold and played as soon as they were made) and the kinds of cases available back then. 

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4 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

But --  the familiar 400 year old instruments (just 4x the time) look beat half to death. 

One thing that impressed me when leafing through a photo book of Strads was how most of them looked beat well beyond death.  The familiar ones apparently are the better-preserved or restored ones.  If a maker duplicated the average Strad appearance, it might be very difficult to sell something that abused-looking.

I leave my fiddles around on a table.  If I had them in cases, I'd be too lazy to open the case to play them.  Maybe most old violins were kept the same way... on a shelf or table.

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8 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

Those are the ones i was talking about then :)

Something has been gnawing at me forever.  A high percentage of instruments 100 years old look practically new.  But --  the familiar 400 year old instruments (just 4x the time) look beat half to death. 

Or another way of looking at it, my favorite is 20 yrs old.  It's nowhere near 1/20 of the way to being practically obliterated.  Nowhere near 1/20 the way toward losing most of its varnish, being packed with dirt, etc.

Imagine a violin traveling over rough roads by stagecoach from town to town (in the case of a traveling soloist). If the violin even had a case, the case was likely un-padded, with the violin poorly secured, allowing the violin to move around a lot within the case with every road irregularity.

And imagine how dirty the air was in metropolitan centers, during the wood and coal heating eras, and also the early industrial eras.

To what extent should we try to emulate that today?

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On 9/8/2020 at 6:08 AM, Peter K-G said:

Copies of late dG's has to be antiqued, most contemporary makers can't even imitate such bad/ugly work as a new/crisp late dG copy.

They don't have to be antiqued, although I will readily acknowledge that making a  fully varnished Guarneri copy look good is a huge challenge.

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On 9/7/2020 at 12:10 PM, Davide Sora said:

Who can say what is the best look, fashions are passing from time to time.:)

Yup. At one time it was fashionable to paint over brickwork and fine woodwork. Now, people are spending megabucks to remove the paint and restore these to their original appearance.

And there are still some people slathering fine brickwork, stonework, and woodwork with paint. What is one to do?  :blink:

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Imagine a violin traveling over rough roads by stagecoach from town to town (in the case of a traveling soloist). If the violin even had a case, the case was likely un-padded, with the violin poorly secured, allowing the violin to move around a lot within the case with every road irregularity.

And imagine how dirty the air was in metropolitan centers, during the wood and coal heating eras, and also the early industrial eras.

To what extent should we try to emulate that today?

Depends how serious you are. Do you want to get the right look or don't you?

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15 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Depends how serious you are. Do you want to get the right look or don't you?

What would you consider to be "the right look"? Would it be a wife who has bean beaten up so many times, that she has needed many restorations and replacement parts?

That doesn't happen to be my thing. ;)

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24 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

 [Incredibly tasteless, thoughtless, cruel, and inconsiderate misogynistic brain flatulence, punctuated with a lame and overused emoji.]

partytime.gif.50a9f3b8277b837634fcc436753b27ab.gifpartytime.gif.50a9f3b8277b837634fcc436753b27ab.gifpartytime.gif.50a9f3b8277b837634fcc436753b27ab.gifpartytime.gif.50a9f3b8277b837634fcc436753b27ab.gifpartytime.gif.50a9f3b8277b837634fcc436753b27ab.gifpartytime.gif.50a9f3b8277b837634fcc436753b27ab.gif......................................

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33 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

What would you consider to be "the right look"? Would it be a wife who has bean beaten up so many times, that she has needed many restorations and replacement parts?

That doesn't happen to be my thing. ;)

Yeah, I know, you're  a masochist aintcha?

Leather clad biker chicks, that's your thing.

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Wow, first thread I wander into after a hiatus would, of course, be this one. Wow. 

Um, okay. Well, what I can add to this mess of a thread is that apparently actual schmutz can be helpful in these situations. I remember the entire contents of a vacuum bag were at one point requested and extracted for antiquing purposes. I guess dirt is helpful for the turns of the scroll and the edges of the ribs and so forth. But not just dirt , which is why all of the crap in a vacuum is what you need .  It's realistic . If you want extremely light antiquing this might not be needed but you could do a tiny bit and see how you like it. I believe you can add dirt from the vacuum into ink, paint, minerals, even protein or alcohol and other materials and just basically have some sort of street fight with your instrument and see who wins, which is about as fun as it sounds. Antiquing is always scary, even if you're only trying to simulate a small amount of wear.  Maybe rub it in and off your instrument with something gritty if you want more wear, or use silk for less wear...whatever you think could produce the effect you want.

GL

 

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3 hours ago, sospiri said:

Yeah, I know, you're  a masochist aintcha?

Leather clad biker chicks, that's your thing.

Not even slightly. You could hardly be more far off.

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Not a masochist to your new violin finishes at least.

You know, a guy's car is probably 10 years old.  It's nowhere near 1/5 the condition of a fifty year old car.  Cars start to develop prized signs of age when they're abandoned.  A guy loses interest, or dies or runs out of money some other way.  Maybe it wasn't the chick magnet he expected and he took up potato farming.  How many times has that happened to something 300 years old?  How many cycles of that?  How many cycles of life and death?  Quite a few, I expect.  Maybe what, once every ten years?  Ohhh....probably not...

 

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Hi Jackson,

i think you opened a can of worms.

I could probably write a whole book about it, so I'll try to break it down in maybe several posts.

First, your idea to antique as if the instrument had been put away for a few years sounds good, but if you really want to achieve it convincingly is actually extremely difficult to do because you would need to find the trick to age the varnish as is. This means you would need to know a technique to  initiate the chemical transformations which occur through ageing. This creates in some cases hair cracks. Another thing seems to be that wood and varnish expand and contract differently with humidity changes crwating certain effects, another thing which is practically speaking impossible to imitate. I may add that I tried to do something like this a few years ago and the fiddle is still hanging in my workshop because I am not satisfied with the result. 

So in short in your place I'd rather get away from this idea. You better  start with an antique finish that imitates just normal wear. 

I had a colleague in Japan who was making just straight instruments. One day he presented at the annual music fair an antiques instrument which was absolutely horrible. He knew it and asked me for advice.

Here is what I told him:

'You were doing too much at one time. Keep in mind that any natural wear always and with no exception starts with one scratch. That's where you should start. And spend some thoughts where this happens. Maybe on the. edge or somewhere on the back. Start with subtle scratches. If it doesn't show immediately, you can repeat it. But if you start with deep scratches and it goes wrong, you will try to hide it by doing more. That's a perfect recipe for antiquing failures. Pictures can be used as a guide but never ever try to 'photocopy' the antique pattern from a photo. Natural antiquing occurs through chance and there is no way how you can successfully imitate things 'by chance' Dirt highlights the surface damage and care should be taken what you use instead of real dirt. Some makers use oil paint, however the best 'pigment' I know for doing this is real dust. (You can develop your own ideas where to collect it...:-) ) Don't try to paint it on. It should hold by rubbing it on with some grease oil or fat, because that is what makes real dirt so nasty to clean. If it doesn't hold just leave it and continue with things happening by chance. Don't work more than one hour on it, because you might get carried away. Pur it away and let the visual impression sink in. The next day you will see it with fresh eyes and get some inspiration how to continue. In the end you should keep in mind that you are creating an abstract painting. For this the great German abstract painter Herhard Richter has the perfect formula: 'I start somewhere without knowing where I go. I just continue. The most difficult part is to know when to stop. By time I learned to see when I reach the point where I can't go any further.' This is in the end the recipe for convincing looking antiquing.'

The following year my Japanese colleague exhibited his next antiqued instrument. It wasn't 'perfect' in the sense that you would think it is older than it actually was, but it had flair and a good balance. And he told me that he spent much less time on it. 

Good luck to you, Jackson!

Note: I am not going to read it again to correct small errors in the text as usual, so please look on it like 'text antiquing' created by chance.

 

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On 9/8/2020 at 1:31 PM, Bodacious Cowboy said:

you don't have to copy the asymmetry.

If the desire is to make a bench copy you would. Then the varnish job would need to be antiqued. Lots of ways to go!

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On September 5, 2020 at 7:49 AM, 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 never received any in-person training for antiquing....^_^

Though, maybe that might have avoided some antiquing failures. :D

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On September 5, 2020 at 10:56 AM, 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.

[...]

Nathan,

your post is practically a compendium of techniques and practices for antiquing. 

If I may add  some things/thoughts:

Applying dirt to the ground in bare areas is one possibility, another one is to start with old looking wood.

For dirt accumulations either in scratches or at the border of fractured varnish you can use as well color crayons. The tricky part here is to find the right brand. Depending on the manufacturer the crayon in the same color can be harder or softer. (Too hard is in my experience not useful) And the same color (by its name) can look differently. 

One of my favourites is Crayon d'ache and their sepia color works for many things. 

I have in my toolbox for antiquing as well sand (gravel) in different sizes.

i like the conclusion of your post. Most 'bad' antiquing is actually not following this rule and overdone antiquing looks like a 'scratch mask' put on the instrument. 

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On September 6, 2020 at 10:19 PM, Don Noon said:

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.

Depends much on the varnish and its oil content as well as the thickness of the varnish. 

Generally speaking one could say 'the thicker the varnish and the more oil was used the more interesting structural asymmetries you get. 

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I watched the video of the maker with the paint stripping gun with some alarm.

My question is this: If you use a varnish, which as can be seen from older instruments, may develop its own crackle naturally over time, are you not worried that the induced crackle + natural crackle may become really horrible looking in future?

There were several threads over the years of Mittenwald varnish which crazed badly, and how ugly looking most people found it, so I'm wondering if this induced crazing will eventually head this way.

 

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