Sebastian: Step 2(B) in the Balsam Ground process, Adding Aged Wood Color Gold. When a violin is initially finished it is white, if we applied varnish with no color and the instrument had a bump or scratch, the white wood would sparkle through the wound. Also, we, and more importantly musicians, want instruments that look old. Stradivari and Guarneri instruments are old, henceforth we value instruments that look old, at least not brand spanking new with white wood. Since the Balsam ground is what goes INTO the wood, it makes sense that we add color down into the wood. With the color in the wood, when a dent or scratch happens, the colored wood will reflect back. Additionally, we will antique Sebastian in later varnishing stages. This antiquing will remove some of the varnish we will yet apply, and underneath that varnish will be our colored wood. Over the centuries many methods have been used to darken the wood, everything from dark pigments to chemical acid baths that darken the wood during or before varnishing. Most of these methods either blocked the light illuminating from the wood cells, or worse yet destroyed the cell structure weakening the wood and hastening the instruments demise. The 18th century Cremonese instruments had intense illumination. When you focus a bright light on the varnish of well preserved Stradivari instruments, the color of the varnish disappears and you see bright reflections from the cell structure of the underlying wood, particularly on the maple. Using pigments or chemical coloring processes deadens this reflective illumination of the wood. The Balsam Ground process is designed to enhance the wood’s natural illumination. If you have the chance to spend any time with Joe Robson you will hear his mantra, “The Illuminating power of the ground is stronger than the tinting power of the varnish”. To maintain and/or enhance this illumination the Balsam Ground uses a mordant on mordant process, similar to dye color fastening used for textiles. Balsam ground preparation #2 ground has polar compounds it adds to Mordent bind the vegetable based Aged Wood Colors to the cell walls. The first color we will apply to the instrume

Sebastian: Step 2(B) in the Balsam Ground process, Adding Aged Wood Color Gold. When a violin is initially finished it is white, if we applied varnish with no color and the instrument had a bump or scratch, the white wood would sparkle through the wound. Also, we, and more importantly musicians, want instruments that look old. Stradivari and Guarneri instruments are old, henceforth we value instruments that look old, at least not brand spanking new with white wood.

Since the Balsam ground is what goes INTO the wood, it makes sense that we add color down into the wood. With the color in the wood, when a dent or scratch happens, the colored wood will reflect back. Additionally, we will antique Sebastian in later varnishing stages. This antiquing will remove some of the varnish we will yet apply, and underneath that varnish will be our colored wood. 
Over the centuries many methods have been used to darken the wood, everything from dark pigments to chemical acid baths that darken the wood during or before varnishing. Most of these methods either blocked the light illuminating from the wood cells, or worse yet destroyed the cell structure weakening the wood and hastening the instruments demise. 
The 18th century Cremonese instruments had intense illumination. When you focus a bright light on the varnish of well preserved Stradivari instruments, the color of the varnish disappears and you see bright reflections from the cell structure of the underlying wood, particularly on the maple. Using pigments or chemical coloring processes deadens this reflective illumination of the wood. The Balsam Ground process is designed to enhance the wood’s natural illumination. If you have the chance to spend any time with Joe Robson you will hear his mantra, “The Illuminating power of the ground is stronger than the tinting power of the varnish”. To maintain and/or enhance this illumination the Balsam Ground uses a mordant on mordant process, similar to dye color fastening used for textiles. Balsam ground preparation #2 ground has polar compounds it adds to Mordent bind the vegetable based Aged Wood Colors to the cell walls. 
The first color we will apply to the instrume

Instagram filter used: Normal

Photo taken at: Amelia Island

View in Instagram ⇒
Sebastian: Step 2(B) in the Balsam Ground process, Adding Aged Wood Color Gold. When a violin is initially finished it is white, if we applied varnish with no color and the instrument had a bump or scratch, the white wood would sparkle through the wound. Also, we, and more importantly musicians, want instruments that look old. Stradivari and Guarneri instruments are old, henceforth we value instruments that look old, at least not brand spanking new with white wood.

Since the Balsam ground is what goes INTO the wood, it makes sense that we add color down into the wood. With the color in the wood, when a dent or scratch happens, the colored wood will reflect back. Additionally, we will antique Sebastian in later varnishing stages. This antiquing will remove some of the varnish we will yet apply, and underneath that varnish will be our colored wood.

Over the centuries many methods have been used to darken the wood, everything from dark pigments to chemical acid baths that darken the wood during or before varnishing. Most of these methods either blocked the light illuminating from the wood cells, or worse yet destroyed the cell structure weakening the wood and hastening the instruments demise.

The 18th century Cremonese instruments had intense illumination. When you focus a bright light on the varnish of well preserved Stradivari instruments, the color of the varnish disappears and you see bright reflections from the cell structure of the underlying wood, particularly on the maple. Using pigments or chemical coloring processes deadens this reflective illumination of the wood. The Balsam Ground process is designed to enhance the wood’s natural illumination. If you have the chance to spend any time with Joe Robson you will hear his mantra,

“The Illuminating power of the ground is stronger than the tinting power of the varnish”.

To maintain and/or enhance this illumination the Balsam Ground uses a mordant on mordant process, similar to dye color fastening used for textiles. Balsam ground preparation #2 ground has polar compounds it adds to Mordent bind the vegetable based Aged Wood Colors to the cell walls.

The first color we will apply to the instrument is the Aged Wood Color Gold. If you have a chance to look closely at an 18th century violin, you will note a gradient of colors where the varnish is worn away. The color gradation will go from the Red/Brown varnish down to a golden halo around bare wood that often has a grey greenish color. Aged Wood Color Gold will help provide that illusion of age in the cell structure of the wood. 

For at least one or two applications we want an even wash of Aged Wood Color Gold over the whole instrument. Then on subsequent applications we want to emphasize areas where we anticipate the instrument wood would wear over time.

Make a map of the wear patterns on the instrument, know where wear will be. 

Go heavy with the gold where the wear will be.
Mixing ratios 1:4 Balsam Ground Preparation #2 2g,
Everclear Alcohol 8g,
Aged Wood Color Gold 2g, 

You can apply heavier applications, but multiple light applications are easier to control.

This mixture will brush onto the wood with a very bright almost fluorescent yellow/green/gold color. It’s a bit stark, but no worry a few hours in sunlight or intense UV light and the color will fade to a soft yellow gold. 

 #violin #viola #fiddle #5stringfiddle   #violinSebastion #howeryviolins
#violinmaker #luthier #orchestra #fernandinabeach #ameliaisland #brunswickga #staugustine #stmarys #jacksonville #jaxsymphony #unfmusic #jumusic #luthier #whatsonmybench #violinist #florida #northflorida #Georgia   #firstcoast #varnish #violinvarnish #groundvarnish #violingroundvarnish #balsamground

Sebastian: Step 2(A) in the Balsam Ground process. After the instrument is dry to the touch: even though the solution is alcohol, giving the balsam resins time to dry is important. I sent Sebastian out in the sun for a bit and hung him in the shop overnight. The first step is dry brushes the entire instrument first using the “Tail of the Horse” and then a soft long haired brush (A Spanish dry brush I get from Joe Robson). The dry brushing, cleans, smoothes and pushes any surface resins into the pores. The ground is IN the wood, the later varnish is ON the wood. Balsam # 2 preparations. #2 is mixed 1:4 with alcohol. Use the good stuff, Everclear is pure grain alcohol, drinkable. Get the highest proof Everclear you can buy. Hardware store and drug store (isopropyl) alcohol has additives or is wood alcohol. I used to try and volume measure or eyeball the proportions, but after developing a delicious bread baking habit, I’ve found weighing the proportions easier and more accurate. Joe says just eyeball it, get close enough, but with everything “Joe” his eyeball is likely more accurate than my scale.. The balsam ground preparation #1 step added illumination to the wood cells #2’s purpose is to get in and distributed the resins. Balsam ground preparation #2 ground has polar compounds it adds to Mordent so later added colors ( steps 2B, 2C) can bind to the cell walls

Sebastian: Step 2(A) in the Balsam Ground process. After the instrument is dry to the touch: even though the solution is alcohol, giving the balsam resins time to dry is important. I sent Sebastian out in the sun for a bit and hung him in the shop overnight. The first step is dry brushes the entire instrument first using the “Tail of the Horse” and then a soft long haired brush (A Spanish dry brush I get from Joe Robson). The dry brushing, cleans, smoothes and pushes any surface resins into the pores. The ground is IN the wood, the later varnish is ON the wood.

Balsam # 2 preparations. #2 is mixed 1:4 with alcohol. Use the good stuff, Everclear is pure grain alcohol, drinkable. Get the highest proof Everclear you can buy. Hardware store and drug store (isopropyl) alcohol has additives or is wood alcohol. 
I used to try and volume measure or eyeball the proportions, but after developing a delicious bread baking habit, I’ve found weighing the proportions easier and more accurate. Joe says just eyeball it, get close enough, but with everything “Joe” his eyeball is likely more accurate than my scale.. The balsam ground preparation #1 step added illumination to the wood cells #2’s purpose is to get in and distributed the resins.

Balsam ground preparation #2 ground has polar compounds it adds to Mordent so later added colors ( steps 2B, 2C) can bind to the cell walls

Instagram filter used: Normal

Photo taken at: Amelia Island

View in Instagram ⇒
Sebastian: Step 2(A) in the Balsam Ground process. After the instrument is dry to the touch: even though the solution is alcohol, giving the balsam resins time to dry is important. I sent Sebastian out in the sun for a bit and hung him in the shop overnight. The first step is dry brushes the entire instrument first using the “Tail of the Horse” and then a soft long haired brush (A Spanish dry brush I get from Joe Robson). The dry brushing, cleans, smoothes and pushes any surface resins into the pores. The ground is IN the wood, the later varnish is ON the wood.

Balsam # 2 preparations. #2 is mixed 1:4 with alcohol. Use the good stuff, Everclear is pure grain alcohol, drinkable. Get the highest proof Everclear you can buy. Hardware store and drug store (isopropyl) alcohol has additives or is wood alcohol.
I used to try and volume measure or eyeball the proportions, but after developing a delicious bread baking habit, I’ve found weighing the proportions easier and more accurate. Joe says just eyeball it, get close enough, but with everything “Joe” his eyeball is likely more accurate than my scale.. The balsam ground preparation #1 step added illumination to the wood cells #2’s purpose is to get in and distributed the resins.

Balsam ground preparation #2 ground has polar compounds it adds to Mordent so later added colors ( steps 2B, 2C) can bind to the cell walls #violin #viola #fiddle #5stringfiddle #violinSebastion
#violinmaker #luthier #orchestra #fernandinabeach #ameliaisland #brunswickga #staugustine #stmarys #jacksonville #jaxsymphony #unfmusic #jumusic #luthier #whatsonmybench #violinist #florida #northflorida #Georgia #firstcoast #varnish #violinvarnish #groundvarnish #violingroundvarnish #balsamground, Amelia Island, Normal

Sebastian: Here we go again into varnish land… Step 1: Balsam Ground #1 The first part of varnishing is to prepare the wood for the varnish. A ground coat is everything that goes into the wood, the later varnish coats go on top of the wood. Balsam Ground #1 puts balsam pitch down into the wood’s cell structure, its the first part of a mordant on mordant process that will coat the cell walls, but not seal (or clog) up the cells. We want the cells to be as free as possible to sing, also we want to protect the wood, and let the light enter the cells, then bounce back in all the brilliance the wood can support. Not only does a violin need to sound pretty, it needs to look pretty too. Balsam Ground #1 is applied straight from the bottle. It is alcohol based, so it dries very quickly. The tendency is to put more on than you need. Keep track of where you brushed and move on. It dries so fast that you will think you missed areas. I always dab a bit extra where end grain is exposed

Sebastian: Here we go again into varnish land… Step 1: Balsam Ground #1 The first part of varnishing is to prepare the wood for the varnish. A ground coat is everything that goes into the wood, the later varnish coats go on top of the wood. Balsam Ground #1 puts balsam pitch down into the wood’s cell structure, its the first part of a mordant on mordant process that will coat the cell walls, but not seal (or clog) up the cells. We want the cells to be as free as possible to sing, also we want to protect the wood, and let the light enter the cells, then bounce back in all the brilliance the wood can support. Not only does a violin need to sound pretty, it needs to look pretty too. 
Balsam Ground #1 is applied straight from the bottle. It is alcohol based, so it dries very quickly. The tendency is to put more on than you need. Keep track of where you brushed and move on. It dries so fast that you will think you missed areas. I always dab a bit extra where end grain is exposed

Instagram filter used: Normal

Photo taken at: Fernandina Beach, Florida

View in Instagram ⇒
Sebastian: Here we go again into varnish land… Step 1: Balsam Ground #1 The first part of varnishing is to prepare the wood for the varnish. A ground coat is everything that goes into the wood, the later varnish coats go on top of the wood. Balsam Ground #1 puts balsam pitch down into the wood’s cell structure, its the first part of a mordant on mordant process that will coat the cell walls, but not seal (or clog) up the cells. We want the cells to be as free as possible to sing, also we want to protect the wood, and let the light enter the cells, then bounce back in all the brilliance the wood can support. Not only does a violin need to sound pretty, it needs to look pretty too.
Balsam Ground #1 is applied straight from the bottle. It is alcohol based, so it dries very quickly. The tendency is to put more on than you need. Keep track of where you brushed and move on. It dries so fast that you will think you missed areas. I always dab a bit extra where end grain is exposed.

#violin #viola #fiddle #5stringfiddle #violinSebastion
#violinmaker #luthier #orchestra #fernandinabeach #ameliaisland #brunswickga #staugustine #stmarys #jacksonville #jaxsymphony #unfmusic #jumusic #luthier #whatsonmybench #violinist #florida #northflorida #Georgia #firstcoast #varnish #violinvarnish, Fernandina Beach, Florida, Normal

Sebastian: As an evacuee of Dorian the hurricane, I’m sharing my Spouse’s cabin at the Lilian E Smith Center near Clayton GA. She has been coming here the past few years for an Artist Residency, lucky for me to have such a beautiful place in nature to escape to. While here I’m Brushing Sebastian with the “Tail of The Horse”. After we have smoothed out any scraping and end grain furries with Equisetum (AKA Horse Tail), we go to the next finer abrasive which is the Tail of the Horse. When a luthier re-hairs violin, viola, and cello bows, they use a hank of horse hair, most typically from Mongolian ponies. When the hank of horse hair is done there is a think brush of course horseh air left over. Dorian Barnes sells these with epoxy binding the hair together to make a really nice stiff course brush. I brush the wood on the side edges of the horse hair to give a bit of a cut, kind of like a very very small scraper. This brushing smooths the wood without changing the grain contour and removes any remaining dust and furries

Sebastian: As an evacuee of Dorian the hurricane, I’m sharing my Spouse’s cabin at the Lilian E Smith Center near Clayton GA. She has been coming here the past few years for an Artist Residency, lucky for me to have such a beautiful place in nature to escape to. While here I’m Brushing Sebastian with the “Tail of The Horse”. After we have smoothed out any scraping and end grain furries with Equisetum (AKA Horse Tail), we go to the next finer abrasive which is the Tail of the Horse. When a luthier re-hairs violin, viola, and cello bows, they use a hank of horse hair, most typically from Mongolian ponies. When the hank of horse hair is done there is a think brush of course horseh air left over. Dorian Barnes sells these with epoxy binding the hair together to make a really nice stiff course brush. I brush the wood on the side edges of the horse hair to give a bit of a cut, kind of like a very very small scraper. This brushing smooths the wood without changing the grain contour and removes any remaining dust and furries

Instagram filter used: Normal

View in Instagram ⇒
Sebastian: As an evacuee of Dorian the hurricane, I’m sharing my Spouse’s cabin at the Lilian E Smith Center near Clayton GA. She has been coming here the past few years for an Artist Residency, lucky for me to have such a beautiful place in nature to escape to. While here I’m Brushing Sebastian with the “Tail of The Horse”. After we have smoothed out any scraping and end grain furries with Equisetum (AKA Horse Tail), we go to the next finer abrasive which is the Tail of the Horse. When a luthier re-hairs violin, viola, and cello bows, they use a hank of horse hair, most typically from Mongolian ponies. When the hank of horse hair is done there is a think brush of course horseh air left over. Dorian Barnes #Barnesviolins sells these with epoxy binding the hair together to make a really nice stiff course brush. I brush the wood on the side edges of the horse hair to give a bit of a cut, kind of like a very very small scraper. This brushing smooths the wood without changing the grain contour and removes any remaining dust and furries. #violin #viola #fiddle #5stringfiddle #violinSebastion
#violinmaker #luthier #orchestra #fernandinabeach #ameliaisland #brunswickga #staugustine #stmarys #jacksonville #jaxsymphony #unfmusic #jumusic #luthier #whatsonmybench #violinist #florida #northflorida #Georgia #firstcoast, **insta-location**, Normal