Author Topic: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs  (Read 3335 times)

bbrown

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Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« on: June 04, 2014, 01:17:42 PM »

   Has anyone used water-based India ink for ebonizing walnut?  I've considered alternatives and think I'm going to use this for the legs on a William and Mary piece.  What ink to use?  What about dye first?   Not sure I want jet black, but I do like a dark colour with perhaps some grain show.

  Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated.

  Thanks very much,

    --Bill
William Brown

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zdillinger

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2014, 01:43:19 PM »
I use what is essentially a thin black paint to do what you are describing. Linseed oil, a little turpentine, and black powdered pigment.


bbrown

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2014, 03:30:14 PM »

 
Thanks Zach.

    I've seen your piece (it's made a lot of rounds!).   I prefer a darker and more uniform colour.   I am pretty sure it's India ink I want.  Just wanted to hear from any folks who have experience with that particular technique.

     I would, however, like to know what you did to colour the burl veneer drawer fronts?  It seems that the dark streaks really contrast with the lighter colours, which is very nice, IMO.

   I'm also curious:  if the legs are to be ebonized, I suppose any high tannin wood would be OK (oak for example).  They will be black, so making them walnut like the rest of the piece should not really matter?
William Brown

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Kirk Rush

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2014, 08:12:03 AM »
Bill,

     I have used Transtint black.  It works well.  If you are making the piece out of walnut, I think that I would use a closer grained wood than oak for the legs.

Kirk

ttalma

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2014, 08:37:50 AM »
I used India ink on maple one time. It came out great! because of the tight grain of the maple I had to do a bunch of coats (about 6 or 7, I don't remember the exact number), and lightly sand it a few times during the process. because the water raised the grain, but it came out nice and even and was black when done but still showed the grain. I cut a test piece in half and it had penetrated about 1/16 into the wood in some areas.
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bbrown

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2014, 09:57:39 AM »

   Thank you Kirk.  These are good points about oak; I appreciate that.  I was thinking of Transtint - it is useful stuff.   I like a very black look.  Maybe a hint of grain, but not translucent.

   Thanks Talma, this is what I was wanting to hear.  Is there an ink brand I should look for or is India ink pretty much all the same?
 
William Brown

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Mo Yarborough

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2014, 01:30:32 PM »
I have used Carter's India Ink on Walnut.  You can leave it on to dry full strength and seal..but my work did not look like real Ebony until I waited for the India Ink to dry and then wiped it with Denatured Alcohol to the desired effect.  Since the ink is water based, denatured alcohol removes unwanted excess  in a less subtractive method.
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bbrown

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2014, 01:37:53 PM »

  Mo, I am not clear on the alcohol step.  What's the purpose and how does it affect the water-based ink?

   Thanks for the input,

    --Bill
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ttalma

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2014, 08:28:38 AM »
I don't recall the brand this was about 5 years ago. But my understanding is that India ink is all the same or it isn't India ink, it's just ink. You can buy it in art stores.
There are 10 types of people in this world, those that understand binary and those that don't.

Mo Yarborough

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2014, 10:32:57 AM »
Bill, I did this Ebonizing method about 2 years ago.  The Walnut I was using was cut about 1940 and stored in a barn.  Beautiful wood, and had great color.  I was doing some research about using India Ink on Walnut.  India Ink has a deep purplish tint when thinned.  When I applied the Ink, I did not like the effect of the pure black color on my walnut.  I did nothing to make it look like Ebony.  I tried to wipe some off after drying, with a damp cloth, but I found that the damp cloth lifted excess Ink rapidly, so I wanted to slow my subtraction process to achieve a good Ebony look.  I tried Denatured Alcohol, and it removed ink, but took some rubbing to remove the ink.  I think Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol would work as well.  The Alcohol has just the right amount of water in it to lift excess Ink in such a way as to allow for finding the color of Ebony you are looking for.  It worked well to allow for the color I was after. I sealed my box with wax only.
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Marion

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2014, 10:53:20 AM »
Historically, walnut was ebonized by applying a solution of iron oxide to the surface of the wood.  The iron oxide reacts with the tannins in the wood and the wood turns black.  The process can be made more powerful(blacker) by using a tea made from quebrocho bark powder and water.  At the link below the young woman gives a very good description of how to do it and provides sources and quantities.  Rather than raising the grain and sanding I just use a scraper.

http://hannamades.blogspot.com/2009/10/ebonizing-wood.html


Marion Smith

awleonard

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2014, 10:44:20 AM »
Have you considered Lockwood dye?  I used it on a couple of projects and liked the results. 

Tony

bbrown

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2014, 04:43:46 PM »
  Mo, I would not have figured that process out!  Marion, I was not sure if the old rusted metal in vinegar or awleonards's idea of dye alone would achieve a dark enough colour.  But the color sure looks good on ash in those photos.   I wonder if perhaps a dye followed by India ink might work well?  Michael Dresdner described that in Am. WW Mag. years ago............

http://books.google.com/books?id=p_YDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=dresdner+ebonizing&source=bl&ots=ve2IStXBsr&sig=neuLOY0v9L6-FPqHaOyKJGZ0UqA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AByWU8zgC-exsQSgwYD4AQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=dresdner%20ebonizing&f=false

    I think I might go with ink over dye.

        --Bill
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kwheiser

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2014, 09:17:32 PM »
Interesting topic.  I have made a lot of picture frames over the years where I have ebonized a variety of wood species including walnut, maple, mahogany, cherry, etc.  I have used with good success the following procedure which is quite simple.   Brush a generous coat of vinegar/steel wool mixture (which I always keep on hand) This turns any wood including maple a greyish brownish black and penetrates quite deep into the grain.  This is followed by buffing the surface pretty vigorously with steel wool or woven grey polishing pad then apply Mohawk ultra-penetrating stain in black. (Behlen solar-lux is basically the same thing) The result is a deep clear black ebonized surface which does not obscure the grain of the wood. While I never seem to do the same thing twice when finishing picture frames, the basic process from here is to buff the surface again then apply BLO let that soak in and aggressively buff away the excess.  Then apply thin coats of shellac  and/or wax, and keep buffing and burnishing between coats.  It sounds like a lot of work but it is not and it produces a very agreeable satin surface.
I will also suggest you experiment with these and other materials. If you make your vinegar mixture with rusty nails instead of steel wool it will produce a warmer brown grayish color, and ferrous sulfate produces a darker result, the effect of all of these iron concoctions  can be modified by the concentration of the solutions.  For wax on these frames I make my own brew of “George Frank water wax” which can be tinted with water soluble aniline dyes.  Of course for black frames I make black wax.
My philosophy for finishing is; “It is never done wrong”, “It is just not done yet!”  Keep rubbing till your surfaces look better than you hoped they would!
Good luck, Ken

Marion

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Re: Ebonizing walnut - William and Mary style legs
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2014, 10:36:33 AM »
Bill,

Ken is correct in recommending against using old rusty nails.  While that was probably what was done in the past, today I find that using Liberon 0000 steel wool and white vinegar produces predictable, consistent results.  I use the Liberon brand because it is produced without the use of oil and thus will not contaminate what it comes into contact with.  Liberon's 0000 is also finer than the other 0000 brands. While I have never expressed it the same way, I agree with and in the future will quote Bill's "philosophy" on finishing, with, of course, appropriate attribution.

You have a handful of approaches to ebonizing the walnut that others have found to be satisfying, so I suggest that you get some walnut scraps and ebonize them using each approach to determine which approach you like the most and then finish the legs with the approach which most pleases you.  That way you will not be disappointed. After all you have put in a lot of work in making your piece an do not want to spoil it with an unsuccessful experiment.

If I were you I would not overlook the quebrocho bark powder in use with the vinegar/steel wool solution.

Marion