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Thread: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

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    Registered User grandcanyonminstrel's Avatar
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    Default pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Has anyone used true pernambuco, caesalpina echinata, as a natural coloring for your finish work? Reds always seem to fade on most of the commercial dyes. I've got a nice very old board of true pernambuco that I don't have any use for that came from an estate last year. I cut off a small slice, added it to a glass of water, and the entire glass turned a vibrant merlot color in about two minutes. I've been thinking of making a concentrated solution and trying it for a nice warm sunburst. Has anyone ever tried this and do you know what the color fastness is? I know it was the global red color standard until aprox. 1875 when synthetic colors were introduced. Thanks for the help.

    j.
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  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    James: not being of the luthier persuasion, I was not aware of that use for pernambuco.

    A couple of quick links that may be of some use:

    Wikipedia


    Old Forum Discussion on Maestronet.com
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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ...I was not aware of that use for pernambuco.
    I have always found it interesting that pernambuco came into favor for bow making at the time that it was piled high on the docks of Europe for the dyemaking trade...
    It represented a very small % of the total number of species in S. America, and yet became the wood of choice for bows, and remains so....
    What a coincidence...

    I used to have a few tons of the stuff here, and occasionally bow makers would drop by and pick through the piles...
    They'd bring Lucchi meters, or float the sticks in bathtubs to see if they'd sink, and invariably leave piles of shavings here and there that would look like someone spilled grape juice all over the place the next day after a rain....
    A strong dye indeed...

    That Maestronet discussion is interesting...
    One of the first threads I've read there that didn't break down into ego-fights and rants....

  4. #4
    Registered User grandcanyonminstrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    The Maestronet link was helpful; seems like it would work ....I'll make up some samples.

    Lucchi meters....I'd really like to start incorporating them into my building nerdiness, but the price makes a Hacklinger gage look like small change! $2800 euros for a small handheld unit..... Has anyone developed an ipad app for one yet?????

    Bruce, I thought all of those old stains on the shop floor were from that big old bandsaw you have.

    j.

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    One really important thing to remember about real Caesalpinia echinata pernambuco is that it's really toxic. Bowmakers (the smart ones who live long and prosper) are very careful about shavings and dust, and give their shavings to weavers who carefully use it to dye yarn and fabrics. It's a lovely natural dye, but it has drawbacks if you're not diligent.

    You don't need Lucchi gizmos to make dyes.
    .
    ph

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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Have you looked into Madder root, James?

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    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Use that pernambuco wisely, its an endangered species and you probably wont be able to find more for a while.
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    Registered User Arnt's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Hostetter View Post
    One really important thing to remember about real Caesalpinia echinata pernambuco is that it's really toxic. Bowmakers (the smart ones who live long and prosper) are very careful about shavings and dust, and give their shavings to weavers who carefully use it to dye yarn and fabrics. It's a lovely natural dye, but it has drawbacks if you're not diligent.
    I didn't know that Pernambuco was so toxic, thanks for the heads up, Paul. I've made one guitar with it, and I have enough wood for another, but after that I suspect I won't see any again (I'll be more careful about the dust when I build the next one). The price, if you can get it, is about double of good BRW or thereabouts, so that dye must get expensive indeed! I did notice some quite vivid staining on the moist kraft paper that I wrap the sides in for bending, so perhaps you don't need that much wood to make the dye you need.

    Sorry for taking this slightly off track, James!

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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Pernambuco is also import restricted, so don't plan on crossing any international borders with it...

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Quote Originally Posted by JuddTaylor View Post
    Pernambuco is also import restricted, so don't plan on crossing any international borders with it...
    There is a great deal of it in the US that has failed to be of sufficient quality for making bows, but still makes great dyestuff. And out of a stick of raw wood actually destined to become a bow, there's a lot of waste. People who want the stuff for dyeing need to network better with bowmakers.
    .
    ph

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  11. #11
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: pernambuco as a finish coloring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Hostetter View Post
    There is a great deal of it in the US that has failed to be of sufficient quality for making bows...
    I ran into an amazing stash of Pernambuco boards at a hardwoods joint in Santa Barbara, CA once....
    Each board measured 2.5" thick by 15" wide, and must have been 8-10 feet long...
    I had no idea that the species grew that large...
    Made a call to a Pernambuco supplier who informed me that the large stuff is highly undesirable for bows...
    So-ooo, it's hard to say what the original forests and resulting product used for dying looked like, and whether or not it was even useful for violin bows...

    There's an interesting story in there somewhere about the historical interaction between the dye industry and bow makers...


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