It's been a couple of years since my job at Shar Music, repairing violins, violas and cellos. I'm putting the skills I learned there to use rehabilitating a few violins. I had done a few instruments like this while living in Michigan, and am really excited for the next one to be playable!
On those first few, I learned two very important things. Sharpie runs when varnished over, and how to do a heat transfers onto wood.
top to bottom:
-freshly printed outlines and a heat burnishing tool. These frequently come as an attachment to a wood burning tool. My personal tactic is to turn the heat up all the way. That, as opposed to heavy handed burnishing, seems to help get a crips black line. The image is transfered by placing the print out face down on the wood, and burnished from behind with the heated tool.
-Two panels, printed and ready to piant.
- I use gouache. I like the opacity of it, although I do sometimes use a reqular watercolor pallet too.
-Done! Once everything is painted in, I seal each panel with a semi-matte acrylic spray. After that is completly dry, I trace back over any patchy lines with a fine sharpy to get a nice crisp outline.
This same process applies to the violin, with a few complecations. First off, the surface is curved, and getting a clean transfer is quite challenging. The second hurdle is that any touch up with sharpie will run when the instrument is varnished. The last big challenge is making sure not to sand too far between coats of varnish (a necessary evil) and end up removing paint.
1. Stripped of all its parts and old varnish, this violin is ready to go!
2. Half of the outlines on the top are painted in.
3. The back, after a few coats of varnish.
4. Detail of the front after it's first coat of varnish.
I let the violin dry for a day or two between each coat of varnish. A light wet-sanding before each fresh coat helps ensure an even finish and smooth texture. After the last coat, I will let the varnish harden up for a few weeks before replacing all the hardward on the instrument.