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Manfio's ground and varnish circa 2002-2010


Roger Hill

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I had resolved that I was through posting here, being tired of the belittlement that my posts seem to draw, but in order to help someone else here, The following is an excerpt of a file I keep with what to me is interesting violin related information.  These passages from Manfio were posted by him starting in 2002.  I was not precise in saving the dates.

 

Manfio ground:

I would like to know a bit more about the problems frequently mentioned with Sacconi`s silicate. I`ve been using it without problems, and Mastro Marchini, of Rome, told me he uses it too. I just change the form of preparation. I take 1 kg. of wood ash and make it boil in 2 liters of water for 2 hours (as mentioned in the book Preparazione del Legno, edited by cremonese serie Quaderni). Then I wash the instrument with water and a rag, to take off the excess. Then I use the white egg, honey, sugar, water and arabic gum described by Sacconi, followed by my oil varnish (that is not the Sacconi receip) . I`m using this method for more than 12 years without problems. I made some good instruments with this method (including good apreciations by Steinhardt and Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet, as well from Pinchas Zukerman). So I would like to know

 more about these problems with silicate...

Manfio Varnish

Hi! I've just cook some 2 parts linseed oil, 1 part colophony (dark, from Kremer) and one part mastic. Thanks God no fire ignition!!!.

I'm using Kremer's alizarin in oil from SINOPIA:

236107 Alizarine Crimson dark in linseed oil

I use some alphalt also (roof tar) dissolved in Kerosene, together with the above mentioned alizarin in a strong solution to colour my oil varnish. Kerosene makes brushing easier.

I cook the oil first for about 20 minutes, than add the first resin, cook a bit more, then add

the second resin and cook more. All cooking may take one hour or a bit more.

 

Hi! The bitumen is the same thing of roof tar.

I dilute the roof tar in turpentine to thick honey like consistency, then I dilute it again with kerosene, add some Kremer's alizarin (this one, in oil, don't need any mulling), I do all that by eye, but it has an strong colour, then I add it to the magister varnish till I get a consistency of spirit varnish.

This highly coloured varnish must not penetrate in your wood. I described my ground system in the posts you have read, I think. I'm using now an extra fine pumice used by dentists with the Marciana varnish in a paste that is rubbed in the instrument.

I imagine that kerosene works with spirit varnishes, but you have to make tests, if it works it will brush more easily, I think.

 

MANFIO, on 07 December 2010 - 02:14 PM, said:

Due to some concerns about the use of asphalt - althougth I never had a problem with it - I decided to try another product to make my varnish darker.

Eventually I decided to use Kremer's Bone Black in linseed oil 471007, 250ml Glass 13.00 EUR. It is already incorporated in linseed oil, so no mulling is
needed. It incorporated easily to DORATURA VARNISH (Magister Products), I just mixed a bit of it directly to the varnish. I used it in my two latest violas and liked
the result.

I mix a bit of the Bone Black in oil with some Alizarin Crimson Dark in oil (also from Kremer) and add it directly to the varnish and mix, quite simple to use and
incorporate to the varnish.

 

Vernice Bianca

"Dissolve in a water bath 25 grams of arabic gum in 100ml water, half tablespoon of honey and one quarter tablespoon of sugar. Let it cool. Then beat the white of an egg with a fork till it forms a "snow" and let it stand for 14 hours. Take the liquid substance that forms in bottom of the container egg and add it to the first solution and filter."

I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that this was used as a ground by painters.

It doesn't really act as a pore filler. It does dry very quickly. I find that if the surface is then sanded with linseed oil, the resultant finish is very smooth. The surface was completely sealed by the ground, so that the linseed oil will not penetrate the wood.

Some characteristics of this ground - the gum arabic is essentially a glue; the protein in the other ingredients, when dry, renders this ground insoluble in water; it imparts a light honey colour to the wood; varnish adheres very well to this ground. As I've mentioned, the stiffening of the wood results in a deepening of the tone and more carrying power WITHOUT necessarily making the sound louder.

The sound of a violin treated with this ground is (to me, by now) very characteristic. For purposes of comparison: I once did a major restoration job on a wonderful Claude Pirot violin of 1815. My first reaction when I heard this instrument was: "My, this sounds like one of MY violins!"

Washing with Lye

 

quote:

Originally posted by: Darren Molnar Hi Giuseppe, this is a very interesting statement, could you tell us more about this? Where did you here about this system? What do you mean by potassa? Thank you for sharing.

"The things that demand more time in order to dry, are exactly rosin and sap... In the OM days the potassa was the most detergent used, for every type of application, adding little of lime increased the caustic power of the potassa. Washing the wood in potassa caustic, linfa and the resin will be saponificate, reducing the times of seasoned. Perhaps " ------------------------- Provando e riprovando

Only that in my knowledge. We begin from the soap: it is produced by saponification of an oil or fat animal or vegetable using one alkaline caustic substance. In OM Time the potassa (lye) it was used like "soap" for the cloth, shampoo, barber "soap" etc. It was produced by Wood ash in warm water. This solution could and can be used in order to wash the wood saponifing and removes the dirt, the wax, resin, sap, added with calcium increases its caustic power. Lye cleans the wood oxidizes and coloring it in light yellow, more, disinfectant and perhaps prevents woodworm. Finally it contains and it leaves in the wood all the elements of the ash as well as sodio, potassio, calcium,  silicon, magnesium etc

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being tired of the belittlement that my posts seem to draw

This is unfortunate and yes, does seem to happen to others as well.  Sorry to hear this.  

Thank you for sharing this compilation.  Luis and and some others have been more than generous in sharing their knowledge and encouragement.  

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5 hours ago, Roger Hill said:

I would like to know a bit more about the problems frequently mentioned with Sacconi`s silicate. I`ve been using it without problems, and Mastro Marchini, of Rome, told me he uses it too. I just change the form of preparation. I take 1 kg. of wood ash and make it boil in 2 liters of water for 2 hours (as mentioned in the book Preparazione del Legno, edited by cremonese serie Quaderni). Then I wash the instrument with water and a rag, to take off the excess. Then I use the white egg, honey, sugar, water and arabic gum described by Sacconi, followed by my oil varnish (that is not the Sacconi receip) . I`m using this method for more than 12 years without problems. I made some good instruments with this method (including good apreciations by Steinhardt and Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet, as well from Pinchas Zukerman). So I would like to know

 more about these problems with silicate...

I state that I am not a chemist, but it seems that what you use is lye, not silicate, which is usually understood as waterglass. I think this is the misunderstanding that many have had with Sacconi's book, where the instructions provided for the silicate actually indicate the lye and not the waterglass. For me lye is fine, it's the chemicals like potassium or sodium silicate (waterglass, sodium metasilicate) that create the often mentioned problem of the chemical reactivity in the presence of moisture even after many years. In the eighties here in Cremona practically everyone believed (wrongly) that Sacconi's silicate was the same thing as the sodium metasilicate they bought at the pharmacy, instead of the lye made by boiling the ash (preferably from the shoots of vines rich in potassium, wrote Sacconi in his book).
Using ready-made chemical products and without knowing their composition well is unfortunately a fast route followed by many, and still unfortunately without asking too many questions, or trusting too blindly in "rumors" or bad teachings.

Sacconi (or whoever wrote the book for him) in this case was unjustly the victim of misunderstandings by poorly informed people.

PS Thanks for the extensive and accurate report on your varnishing systems:)

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