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Casein on the inside of the violin.


violins88
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It seems that Edgar Russ is convinced that the Cremonese makers used casein on the inside of violins. I am shocked to see the water applied. I would think it dangerous to glue joints. Please share your thoughts on casein. Thanks. His video is here: 

 

 

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I don't see any problem with it. The water isn't staying on the area long enough to soak into the center or bassbar joints. Also, things like a dilute glue wash, or vernice bianca (both water based) have been used for centuries to seal the surfaces. Things like the casein, or vernice bianca  become pretty insoluble once they have dried.

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What exactly is that paste in the jar labeled "calce"?  I couldn't understand what he said.

I agree that the water isn't a big deal, as it isn't there for long, and no heat is used.  Some water might get to a little bit of the joint, but I think it would at worst just soften, then dry out and be fine.

I don't think casein is some secret treatment for fabulous tone.  I DO use a casein coating on the inside of my instruments, but a different formulation, and only as a preservative and to keep spruce fibers from pulling out when I use tape to fit my bass bar.  In my testing, the coating adds only a fraction of a gram, and does essentially nothing to the vibrating properties of the plate. 

IMO any coating will not add power or volume to the tone, but reduce it in a hopefully beneficial way.  Bare wood is like starting with all the equalizer bands set to maximum, and the coating only allows you to reduce some of them.  Wood properties are almost impossible to improve with coatings (outside of exotic things like sputtered beryllium or diamond or graphite, if you can get a thin, even coating of them somehow).

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"What exactly is that paste in the jar labeled "calce"?"

I'm thinking that it's hydrated lime (  quick lime in water - Ca (OH)2  ) This dissolves a little in water. After it's dry, over a period of time, this absorbs and reacts with CO2 in the air to form CaCO3

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If you have a violin that you have decided has plates which are too thin, I believe you could make a paste of casein and pumice.

Apply to the inside of the plates. I did some testing of strips. Found that the mode frequencies were raised with this stuff. 

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I tried this on an instrument and it turned out more shrill sounding than I would have liked.  I got the impression it might be helpful if you're working with a soft piece of spruce and wanted to harden/strengthen it. 

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17 hours ago, violins88 said:

 

It seems that Edgar Russ is convinced that the Cremonese makers used casein on the inside of violins. I am shocked to see the water applied. I would think it dangerous to glue joints. Please share your thoughts on casein. Thanks. His video is here: 

 

Sacconi detected something in the inside of strads which I think he called ‘white varnish’ but made no explanation what this could be. 
 

To protect the inside of the instrument from moisture (especially the top) sounds only logic.

I think avoiding the contact of water is one of the most misleading prejudices in violin making. Water contact does by no means harm instruments, but it is true that the use of too much water on a loose top can have some disastrous effects. For a pretty radical test I have done that once (soaking the plate for a minute in water) and it caused cracks and opened the lower end of the joint. 
 

Brushing a moderate amount of glue size or thinned down casein however should not have such effects. Eventually the flanks can raise up. 
 

In general the influence of varnish on the sound is still overestimated. Anything which adds too much damping should be avoided and therefore a rapidly self stabilizing liquids (like glue or casein) right on the wood seem to be better than gooey balsamic hocuspocus. (Propolis and other soft stuff) For the rest my personal idea is that the thinner the varnish the better.

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2 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

I think "calce" should be this : https://www.kremer-pigmente.com/en/shop/fillers-building-materials/31800-pit-lime.html

Curiously, at the time 4:46 in the video Mr. Russ also talks about ammonia which, however, he does not mention in the ingredients.

Where does it come from?

Kremer 38100 pit lime is what I use, it's a great product.

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3 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

"I think "calce" should be this"

Very well could be! Slaked for 64 months! That's what you would call Vintage lime!

Ammonia is a pretty common ingredient in casein glue recipes.

https://kollagora.com/index.php/us/science-en-us/menu-make-your-glues-en-us/179-milk-glue-casein-en-us

A portion from your link reads:

"Transfer to a container, cut the mass in small pieces and add up to 2 fl. oz. of a 1% ammonia solution (if commercial solution has a concentration of 12% ammonia, an approximate 1% solution can be obtained by mixing a tablespoon of 12% ammonia in ¼ cup of water or 50 ml). Mix with a wooden spoon or a blender until the mixture becomes fluid and viscous....  .....Sodium bicarbonate can be used instead of ammonia. Add a tablespoonful of bicarbonate to 4 tablespoons of hot water and add to the curd. The curd will foam due to the release of carbon dioxide gas (CO2)."

I was under the impression that lime cements or mortars need CO2 to cure and harden. So I'm wondering what the advantage of removing CO2 is, unless it is to extend shelf life, with the possible unintended consequence of taking much longer to reach a stable plateau state.

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46 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

A portion from your link reads:

"Transfer to a container, cut the mass in small pieces and add up to 2 fl. oz. of a 1% ammonia solution (if commercial solution has a concentration of 12% ammonia, an approximate 1% solution can be obtained by mixing a tablespoon of 12% ammonia in ¼ cup of water or 50 ml). Mix with a wooden spoon or a blender until the mixture becomes fluid and viscous....  .....Sodium bicarbonate can be used instead of ammonia. Add a tablespoonful of bicarbonate to 4 tablespoons of hot water and add to the curd. The curd will foam due to the release of carbon dioxide gas (CO2)."

I was under the impression that lime cements or mortars need CO2 to cure and harden. So I'm wondering what the advantage of removing CO2 is, unless it is to extend shelf life, with the possible unintended consequence of taking much longer to reach a stable plateau state.

You are right, David. However the article means that the CO2 is released by the bicarbonate to combine with the lime forming the “curd” or calcium carbonate. The CO2 reacts with the lime. Well, most of it. It isn’t removed.

 

 

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On 6/27/2021 at 9:07 AM, violins88 said:

It seems that Edgar Russ is convinced that the Cremonese makers used casein on the inside of violins. I am shocked to see the water applied. I would think it dangerous to glue joints. Please share your thoughts on casein. Thanks. His video is here: 

 

 

Just watched the video and my opinion is that he complicates the process and makes it super messy. 

The way I mix the emulsion, it's more fluid and application is done from a small bowl, dipping a linen cloth in it and rubb it into the wood surface, small areas at a time.

My emulsion is also much more reactive

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2 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

Just watched the video and my opinion is that he complicates the process and makes it super messy. 

The way I mix the emulsion, it's more fluid and application is done from a small bowl, dipping a linen cloth in it and rubb it into the wood surface, small areas at a time.

My emulsion is also much more reactive

The same here, but I use ammonia to dissolve the casein, which allows a more fluid solution and a less full-bodied film once dried, I only add a small percentage of "calce" in the form of "acqua di calce", no oil in emulsion.

 

 

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Well, compared to that, my method starts to look almost messy too :)

I see you get the same type if reaction, like I do.

I have spent a lot of hours experimenting, endless of possibilities. For the moment I have settled with mixing a little linseed oil and varnish into the emulsion. Small amounts, not measured, just testing by look and feel, depending on the wood.

For a very strong reaction, prepareing the wood with strong black tea (tannins) and a lot of UV. Then a specific mix casein/pit lime, you get a surprice when applying it.

The reaction It's too strong, so I don't recommend it as is, but the right combination will get an unmatched old wood look.

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For some times I have moved to lighter ground/wood color and darker varnish (but that could change back..)

Here is an example of the reaction. This was an experiment with dark old wood look and light varnish colored with Kremer Alizarin pigments, directly mulled into the varnish. Very thin two coats of light varnish, first layer without pigments

Notice how red the flames get, and not burned. The colored varnish layer did not penetrate the wood at all.

AAD51646-D03A-4D2F-B3AD-E54CA45EF8C9.thumb.jpeg.7ffc04f4d0f025b82b35eee8b04d3e01.jpeg

47A203D9-9341-48C1-93CF-B439A30B1F45.thumb.jpeg.dfd73ad5fc8226f5bf0bd5ba7994ea77.jpeg

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4 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

Well, compared to that, my method starts to look almost messy too :)

I see you get the same type if reaction, like I do.

I have spent a lot of hours experimenting, endless of possibilities. For the moment I have settled with mixing a little linseed oil and varnish into the emulsion. Small amounts, not measured, just testing by look and feel, depending on the wood.

For a very strong reaction, prepareing the wood with strong black tea (tannins) and a lot of UV. Then a specific mix casein/pit lime, you get a surprice when applying it.

The reaction It's too strong, so I don't recommend it as is, but the right combination will get an unmatched old wood look.

 

3 hours ago, Peter K-G said:

For some times I have moved to lighter ground/wood color and darker varnish (but that could change back..)

I also tan the wood with a lot of UV before casein, but I skip the tannin (tea) because I have the impression that it dirties the wood a bit and  darkens it too much. I don't like having a too dark wood color, it seems to me that it loses its brilliance and vitality under the varnish, and observing the ancient Cremonese instruments I always have the impression that the wood under the varnish is not very dark at all, and clean.

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50 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

 

I also tan the wood with a lot of UV before casein, but I skip the tannin (tea) because I have the impression that it dirties the wood a bit and  darkens it too much. I don't like having a too dark wood color, it seems to me that it loses its brilliance and vitality under the varnish, and observing the ancient Cremonese instruments I always have the impression that the wood under the varnish is not very dark at all, and clean.

Again, I agree about the clean wood beneath.

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1 hour ago, Davide Sora said:

 

I also tan the wood with a lot of UV before casein, but I skip the tannin (tea) because I have the impression that it dirties the wood a bit and  darkens it too much. I don't like having a too dark wood color, it seems to me that it loses its brilliance and vitality under the varnish, and observing the ancient Cremonese instruments I always have the impression that the wood under the varnish is not very dark at all, and clean.

Yes it does make the wood kinda dirty and too dark, that's why I'm going in the other direction and making dark, transparent varnish. Too white wood is not good either, as always it's a balance.

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  • 1 month later...
On 6/27/2021 at 5:25 PM, FiddleDoug said:

"What exactly is that paste in the jar labeled "calce"?"

I'm thinking that it's hydrated lime (  quick lime in water - Ca (OH)2  ) This dissolves a little in water. After it's dry, over a period of time, this absorbs and reacts with CO2 in the air to form CaCO3

I think it is Calcium-Hydroxide as Davide use it

On 6/29/2021 at 5:06 PM, Davide Sora said:

 

I also tan the wood with a lot of UV before casein, but I skip the tannin (tea) because I have the impression that it dirties the wood a bit and  darkens it too much. I don't like having a too dark wood color, it seems to me that it loses its brilliance and vitality under the varnish, and observing the ancient Cremonese instruments I always have the impression that the wood under the varnish is not very dark at all, and clean.

That`s right as we see on the most Strad`s. )Photo of the Back "King George 1710".
And note the bright "Mirrors" in the Flames. Today we see just the opposite by using Water-stain or chemical treatments
with a resulting quenching of the fluorescence.

Strad1.jpg

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