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(updated 7/2014)
Page G_06
Propolis as used in Violin varnish ground layers...
...Here is some ground up bee propolis in a tightly sealed glass jar filled with 190 proof alcohol. Over about three months, the alcohol will become a dark red liquid which shows yellow when a brushed on a piece of paper. At that point it is ready to use; such as brushing two coats directly onto the wood surface of violin plates, both inside and outside when making a violin. ...Let each coat dry before the second coat application. Then when dry again, dutch rush rub the surfaces twice to get my current (2013) ground for best acoustical effects; and best of all, it really brings out the wood grain beauty when finally varnished.
...For 2017, I would add Fuller's Earth powder to the first three or four coats of varnish. [Not so much as to cloud the transparency significantly.]
..I just brush onto the Propolis on to the wood surfaces; here the underside of the neck, with a small disposable brush (tinners brush) for each coat; two coats are all that is necessary for maximum effect.
..Let dry between applications.
..Here you see the color it makes on a white clean rag.
...Besides an excellent acoustical effect, the propolis (from the inside of a honey bee hive); the bees produce this hard waxy substance and plug air holes in the boards of their hive, I bought my supply on the internet from a bee keeper in PA). Propolis also has excellent wood sealing properties which should slow down moisture migration and make your instrument more stable to humidity changes.
...Here is an example; Normally the bare wood surface of the violin top plate would readily absorb liquid water placed on its surface. However, here you see that even after 7 hours, the liquid water is still not being absorbed at all!
..It is important that Propolis only be applied to both surfaces (inside and outside of each plate) at the same time so as to prevent possible future warping over time!
..Here is the 190 proof (95% pure) alcohol from the liquor store ...they keep it behind the counter!
... The propolis looks like grape nuts cereal and it locks together so you might have to break it apart with a hammer and screw driver, to get it into small chunks so it desolves more readily.
...I put about 1" deep in the bottom of a glass jar (Adams peanut butter), and cover it with another 3" of alcohol.
When the liquid turns a dark color, it is ready to use. I currently use some I mixed up five years ago. Keep the lid tightly closed to prevent evaporation.
..The outside of the top plate of my Opus #27 violin after two coats of the propolis and then scrubing with dutch rush twice. Shown ready for varnish coats.
..I treated this violin inside and out, including the ribs the same way, before final glue up of the violin body.
..As you do these steps, listen to the tap tones of the other side of plate not yet done to hear the significant acoustical effect.
(c) 2017 by David Langsather
190 proof natural Alcohol was clear to begin with...
Remember to not treat the wood surfaces that will be glued together, leave them bare.
Go to new page (2017) on using 'Fuller's Earth'.