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STRADIVARIUS VIOLINS - CLEAR COATING/lacquer restoration technique (?)


Schwartzinc

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3 hours ago, Schwartzinc said:

When was it nouveau ( which years) to clear coat/ lacquer the plates on violins? And when did this practice stop? Why? Just curious about this.

While it was once popular to polish old violin finishes to a high gloss and smoothness, this is no longer practiced by the best shops, since it is believed that the original finishes did not have that appearance. Instead, these shops will go to great lengths to restore these finishes to their original texture when possible.

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58 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

While it was once popular to polish old violin finishes to a high gloss and smoothness, this is no longer practiced by the best shops, since it is believed that the original finishes did not have that appearance. Instead, these shops will go to great lengths to restore these finishes to their original texture when possible.

But what about all those Strads and Guarneris that are used by virtuoso soloists? Haven't most of them been protected with fine French Polishing techniques?

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On 10/7/2023 at 4:11 PM, sospiri said:

But what about all those Strads and Guarneris that are used by virtuoso soloists? Haven't most of them been protected with fine French Polishing techniques?

exactly; I should have chosen my wording more carefully as what I really meant was 'french polish.' I appreciate everybody's comments..thanks all! 

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On 10/7/2023 at 4:11 PM, sospiri said:

But what about all those Strads and Guarneris that are used by virtuoso soloists? Haven't most of them been protected with fine French Polishing techniques?

Yes, but many of them have accumulated so much wear, and have been retouched so many times that they don't have any original texture which can be recovered anyway. These fiddles can have a pretty hard life.

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On 10/7/2023 at 3:09 PM, David Burgess said:

While it was once popular to polish old violin finishes to a high gloss and smoothness, this is no longer practiced by the best shops, since it is believed that the original finishes did not have that appearance. Instead, these shops will go to great lengths to restore these finishes to their original texture when possible.

A violin that mostly escaped the practice:

DSC_0055.JPG.jpeg

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Yes, but many of them have accumulated so much wear, and have been retouched so many times that they don't have any original texture which can be recovered anyway. These fiddles can have a pretty hard life.

Yup, but despite the loss of most of their original finish, as well as the inclusion of untold amounts of patches, cleats, edge doubling, and so on, they still unfathomably sound and play better than anything else ever made (just ask any music journalist, right?). 

Having considered this matter for a long time, I suspect that it must be due to something that the Cremonese soaked their wood in.  As anyone who has studied the posts at Maestronet over the last few decades will know, sooner or later, any discussion of liquid wood treatments will lead you to some variation of having to squeeze rabbits over a bucket.

This being the case, I suggest that the real Cremonese secret is where and how did Stradivari and GDG, in the late 16- and early 1700's, lay hands on the Victorian top hat that they must have pulled their magic rabbits from.........  :huh:  :lol:   outtahere.gif.10a1e25516a38bd63e2ed3384f6df69d.gif

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47 minutes ago, Shunyata said:

The real Cremonese secret was phlogiston.  Lavoisier “disproved” phlogiston in the 18th century and deprived all luthiers since of this important substance. 

I'll add that  Laviosier was executed by guillotine  in 1794, and since most of us pro makers rely heavily on historic examples, we must not  discuss this any further, lest we lose our heads more than we already have.

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7 hours ago, Schwartzinc said:

exactly; I should have chosen my wording more carefully as what I really meant was 'french polish.' I appreciate everybody's comments..thanks all! 

 

On 10/7/2023 at 9:11 PM, sospiri said:

But what about all those Strads and Guarneris that are used by virtuoso soloists? Haven't most of them been protected with fine French Polishing techniques?

 

6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Yes, but many of them have accumulated so much wear, and have been retouched so many times that they don't have any original texture which can be recovered anyway. These fiddles can have a pretty hard life.

Hence the need for a protective coat. Since those violins get so many thousands of hours of playing all over the world, isn't it still standard practice to keep a very fine shellac finish which should only be done by the most experienced restorers, The true art of French Polishing, which also requires thousands of hours to perfect?

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1 hour ago, sospiri said:

 

 

Hence the need for a protective coat. Since those violins get so many thousands of hours of playing all over the world, isn't it still standard practice to keep a very fine shellac finish which should only be done by the most experienced restorers, The true art of French Polishing, which also requires thousands of hours to perfect?

1. An overcoating of shellac does not protect them from other forms of deterioration, such as damage due to handling accidents, and that of wild swings in humidity between performance venues in different parts of the world.

2. Better restorers have been working on protective coatings which are much more easily and selectively soluble and removeable than shellac. Even when some have mastered this, it will probably be a long time before everyone is using them, if ever.

3. French polishing typically does not just deposit a layer of shellac on the surface of the underlying varnish. It also partially softens or dissolves and redistributes what is underneath, unless what is underneath is totally unaffected by alcohol, which is not the case with any old Cremonese varnishes I have worked on.

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"2. Better restorers have been working on protective coatings which are much more easily and selectively soluble and removeable than shellac. Even when some have mastered this, it will probably be a long time before everyone is using them, if ever. "

Are you talking about synthetic varnishes similar to the ones that are being used by fine art restorers? Something like this?

https://www.naturalpigments.com/conservar-finishing-varnish-gloss-4-fl-oz.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3rmet53xgQMVwfnICh20IgqyEAQYAyABEgIppvD_BwE

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