William A Mackay Interview 7 Instruments Finishes Nitrocellulose Polyurethane or others
It may have taken years of using cellulose and two pack lacquers before I felt I really mastered it to any degree, then I got involved with the violin people.
I realized the attitudes and application to and of varnish and finishing was very different.
I’d achieved flat mirror like finish on guitars, the violin world mostly don’t like ‘shiny’, mind you there does seem to be a lot of snobbery in the violin world and many of those who don’t like shiny are also of the brown violin crowd.
The brown crowd often strike me as a little boring, unadventurous and, snobby. I’ll apologize right now to all the good people who like brown violins, the rest can hang there head in shame ha ha ha. Varnish making is a large part of the violin makers world and rightly so, it’s fascinating.
I make my own violin varnish both spirit and oil based.
The base for the spirit mix I’ve been using is alcohol with stick lac, gum elemi, mastic resin and propolis there are also a few drops of oil and beeswax to soften the overall appearance.
My oil varnish is a colophony (pine resin) and linseed oil with a few other ingredients.
Violin varnish tends to be softer than you’ll find on guitars.
They are mostly organic, quite heat sensitive and will wear.
The wear patterns often give an old violin a large part of there charm and apparently even back in Strads day violins left the workshops artificially aged. Whilst studying I developed an interest and an appreciation for antiquing instruments which is a skill in its own.
With looking at instruments from all era knowing many had been aged you even start to see regional similarities in techniques used to antique instruments.
And there is a huge variation in technique also.
We invite you to consult the 2 personal pages of William A Mackay by clicking on the link below :
You can find him on Luthiers at this address for his work on Bowed String Instruments: https://luthiers.com/listing/william-a-mackay-luthiery/
And here for his work on Plucked String Instruments: https://luthiers.com/listing/william-a-mackay-luthiery-2/
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