Workshop- Varnishing -
Generally, an instrument-maker prepares his own varnishes, cooking and mixing different resins, solvents (alcohol, or essential oils), drying oils and coloring substances.
Ancient violin-makers used that which nature made available, probably following procedures inherited from previous woodworking artisans.
The limited number of vegetable or animal resins available could be treated in numerous ways, (cooked, saponified, distilled, hardened or colored with metal oxides), obtaining many different products, very different from the initial ingredients.
Larch resin or Venetian turpentine, propoli, linen oil and other similar substances, apart from being easy to find, and known throughout history, are easily worked and transformed.
The beauty of these "natural" varnishes, which astonish me constantly every time I use them, lies in the variety of colors that can be obtained while still maintaining the same properties and composition.
The finished wood is prepared for varnishing by wetting it and repeating the blade finish; this can be done several times, according to the surface desired.
Often instruments are treated with silicates or other substances to harden or oxidize the surfaces, and in certain cases with insulating substances (albumin, gelatine or rubber), useful above all in closing the pores of the wood of the body.
Normally the varnish is applied with a very soft brush, layering on a previously dry coat. The initial coats are without coloring agents so as not to mark the wood.
During this procedure the varnish is sanded several time with extremely fine abrasives to remove brushmarks.
The number of coats varies greatly depending on the consistency of the varnish, and the thickness and color required.
When the desired color is reached, several coats of clear varnish are applied so that it is protected against wearing.
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