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MMD > Archives > September 2001 > 2001.09.04 > 02Prev  Next

Mahogany and Asphaltum
By Bill Maier

Karl Van Scyoc's post of Sept 1 discusses a needed and thoughtful
approach to recreating great piano finishes as done by experts from
the 19th century through the 1920's.  Faux mahogany requires a nearly
opaque coating (paint) as a base, but embellished mahogany (or nearly
any wood, for that matter) offers an approach that yields a great look
without obscuring the underlying grain.  Great grainers have often
utilized the existing wood and worked on top of it for more beauty.
Grainers frequently barrier coat the work between glazes and a barrier
(such as shellac with oil finishes or lacquer with waterborne finishes)
on the properly filled grain wood can be an excellent starting point.

I recommend the book "Professional Painted Finishes" by Bob Marx (still
available) as good starting place for graining.  Marx writes about
creating straight-grain mahogany and crotch-figure mahogany using a
glaze mix of stain, thinner, and asphaltum called Marglaze.  This glaze
"produces quite realistic results, with shifting tonalities that create
impressionistic shimmer and movement."  Of course this is an oil base
approach to graining.  Most attempts using waterborne glazes do not
quite duplicate the resolution and fine detail of oils, but it is
close.  Waterborne glazes offer the advantage of allowing lacquer as
the final protective finish, whereas oil glazes are best used under a
varnish finish.  Asphaltum is the one ingredient that may be hard to
get as it was used in the printing business years ago. To the sources
suggested by Karl Van Scyoc, I add

    QH&F Ltd
    Columbia, S. Carolina

As with every other aspect of piano and player restoration, the art of
graining and embellishment requires practice.  Aside from the sound,
the visual aspects of the finished product are next in line, so trying
your hand at this may be worthwhile.

Bill Maier

(Message sent Wed 5 Sep 2001, 02:31:17 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Asphaltum, Mahogany

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