The high class retouching system developed in the middle of the 20th century in large restoration workshops in England, is now showing its quality. For example, retouching from these workshops can be found on instruments by Antonio Stradivari and other classical Italian stringed instruments.
These retouches fit perfectly into the surrounding lacquer field, and with regard to light-fastness these restorations show clear differences than retouches that were carried out simultaneously with carcinogenic aniline colours.
From the three basic pigments Rose Madder, Orange Madder and Prussian Blue, you can reach every colour nuance using a glass plate and glass runner, which are necessary for the retouching of a classic Italian string instruments.
We have expanded the classic retouching system
- Ivory black in addition for the retouching of some French instruments.
- Umber Burnt (Ital.) as a necessary addition for the retouching of some German instruments. This extra-coarse-grained pigment is made, having the most transparent properties possible.
- Tartrazine Yellow, the more colour-intensive pigment that we recommend using instead of Orange Madder in the case of retouching some Instruments from the 19th and 20th century.
- Kassler Brown, from a very dense, opaque soil. We have now included this in our collection giving you the opportunity to reconstruct the purfling. This soil, mixed with retouching lacquer, results in the "warm" black seen on the coloured purfling.
How to retouch
- Using a drop of alcohol from the pipette, rub the desired pigments with a glass pigment grinder on the glass plate to give as many colour nuances as possible.
- Soak a paintbrush in alcohol and carefully extract the pigments in the desired colour spectrum from the glass plate, place these on the point of retouch. We recommend our high-quality Kolinsky brushes in size 3, due to its superior properties for this task.
- In the second step, fix the pigments on the point of retouch using a brush stroke of retouching lacquer. If a spatial impression occurs, add Clear-Pigment to the retouching lacquer. For this work we recommend using our Filbert point brush, which was specially developed for this purpose. The specialist brush allows precise, and flat results to be achieved at the same time.
- To restore a small imperfection in the dark purfling score the purlfing runner with the knife before starting. Mix the Kassler Brown on a small plate with retouching lacquer, the mixture will thicken. With a fine brush (Kollinsky brush size 3) place this mixture on the defect. Allow some time for drying, the Kassler Brown retouching lacquer mixture can then be flattened, and the outer edges of the defect can be clearly defined with a knife.
For extensive retouching, we recommend the following procedure.
After sealing the raw wood with one stroke of diluted varnish, you can apply very fine ground pigments from our classic retouching system on to the starting layer.
The next step is to build up the retouching.
Alternate as follows: pigment layer, varnish/Clear-Pigment layer, pigment layer, varnish/Clear-Pigment layer, etc... allowing each layer to dry well.
Important: During application, the brush must be wet with liquid, but should not be soaked/dripping. The brush strokes shouldn’t overlap.
Apply ground pigments mixed with some varnish / Clear-Pigment (mixing well on our glass grinding plate white) directly with a brush after the pigments have been ground with a glass grinder. Stroke the filled brush on the glass grinding plate white until the varnish deposits evenly and without alcohol edges.
Both variations need some practice, but are worth it for high-quality retouching
- Use the Prussian blue in very small proportions.
- Pigments are always preferable to dyes for light-fastness.
- Retouching with pigments is clearly identifiable under UV light.
- Use finely ground pigments when retouching close to the wood, but coarse-grained pigments when retouching in higher paint layers to ensure transparency.
- Ensure sufficient drying times between operations.
- Try alternative mixing techniques, in some cases, it may be appropriate to mix some retouching lacquer and Clear-Pigment directly on the Glass grinding plate with the pigments.
- A white Glass grinding plate is important for a most accurate color perception.
More components for perfect retouching are available in our shop