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 Post subject: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 12 Aug 2012, 17:37 

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Hi everybody, 



As I didn't find ressources about shellac and ocarinas, I decided to make this little tutorial.
Hope it will be helpful.


First of all what you have to know is that shellac is a natural resin secreted by the tiny lac insect on certain trees, principally in India and Thailand.


Image


It is non toxic.
So that's the perfect finish for ocarinas as the mouthpiece has to be in contact with the lips. I invite you to have a look at this very interesting website to get more informations about shellac history.



You'll find a lot of varieties of colors, regular or dewaxed.
The dexaxed shellac in comparaison with the regular one has a very unique glossy finish.
Moreover dewaxed shellac has the advantage of being able to be used under all top coats. Most all finishes adheare to it and it adheares at most all finishes.
You can for example apply acrylic colors on your ocarina and then protect it with shellac.
That's what Hamlett does for his ocarinas.



You'll find on the internet websites proposing a large variety of shellac flakes from clear/transparent to dark brown/cherry.


Image



I'm just going to stick to 3 different shellacs which I think are a good start to experiment a lot of different finish colors.
So the three types I use are called Astra, Komet and Cherry.


Here are what the flakes look like before dilution.


Image



Basically, the flakes can be diluted into ethanol. A bottle of 1 litre will cost you like 2 or 2,5 euros.
The problem with ethanol is that it's alcohol that has been denatured by chemical process to make it unfit for consumption. So it's toxic !!


The better option to prepare shellac is to dilute the flakes into superfine alcohol 94%. You'll find it in your supermaked.
It's much more expensive (14 euros for 1/2 litre) than ethanol but health has no price ;-)


Image Image Image



Concering the dilution ratio you'll find anything (I really mean it!!) anything on the internet.
Some people say that you can dilute it into white spirit with a 50/50 ratio of flakes and alcohol.
Others say a ration of 30%.
I personnaly tested a ratio of 33% (which didn't give me nice results) and 10% (the best ratio I found).


So here is what you'll need to prepare the flakes :
• a glass jar or bottle
• shellac flakes
• superfine alcohol 94% or more
• an accurate scale
• patience ;-)


1) Weigh the flakes
Note : we need to prepare a 10% shellac soution so if you use 10 grams of flakes you'll need 90 grams (I don't use millimeters in this case) of superfine alcohol.
2) Weight the right amount alcohol and put into your jar.
3) Pour the flakes into the jar and close the lid.
4) Now you have to wait at least 24 hours (48 hours is the best).



Here are what the flakes will look like after dilution into alcohol.


Image



To apply the shellac (sorry I have no picures for this) don't use a brush !!
It's the best way to leave marks unless it is what you want.


I personally use a quality sponge (not too soft otherwise little bits of sponge will stick to the surface while the shellac will start to dry).


Put thick plastic gloves on (the ones used to clean, not the light ones made of latex).
Just dip the sponge into the shellac solution. Then press the sponge to remove the excess of liquid. The sponge need to be lightly charged with shellac solution (except for the first layer because the bisque-fired ocarina will absorbe more shellac the first time).


Apply the shellac from nose to bottom of the ocarina.
Start with the back of the ocarina (where you have the thumbholes).
Turn slightly the ocarina each time and repeat this step until the ocarina is completely covered with shellac.
Then simply lay the ocarina on a smooth and solid surface to allow it to dry.
Wait about 5 minutes between layers.


IMPORTANT : shellac dries very quickly superficially so you have to apply it quickly, otherwise it will leave marks.
Anyxay, yoiu'll have to test it to discover what will give you the best results.


Once you're satisfied with the result, allow your ocarina to dry for at least 3 days.
Usually the ocarina will not be sticky anymore after 3 days depending on the numbers of layers.




Here are tests I made on an ocarina.


Image



On the following pictures :
The ocarina on the left is bisque-fired and has no finish.
The middle ocarina has 3 layers of Komet shellac (10%) applied with sponge (like the method above)
The ocarina on the right has 6 layers of Komet shellac (33%) applied with brush. That's the reason why you can see the marks.


Image
Image Image



Hope everything is clear as English is not my mother tongue.


Hope to see your ocarinas with shellac finish ;-)



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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 12 Aug 2012, 17:53 

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Great post! :D


Here are some things which you can improve upon:


Make sure to always filter shellac after it has dissolved, because shellac usually contains impurities, like tiny pieces legs of the bugs. Paper coffee filters are great for this.


If you crush shellac flakes using a mortar and pestle (or a coffee mill, if you can spare one for that purpose) into powder, they will dissolve much faster. You can usually start applying shellac 6-10 hours after the flakes dissolved. In case there are parts that didn't dissolve, it doesn't matter - they will get filtered anyway (and you always have to filter shellac, anyway).


If you're getting dark spots on the edge of your streaks, you're applying too much shellac at once - shellac dries quickly, it's easy to apply many (10+) very thin layers. If you get a spill or an imperfection in the finish, you can smooth it out by using only alcohol on your sponge. That will give you much a nicer finish.


After applying the final layer of shellac, you can polish it using a very fine grit polishing cloth (Micro Mesh works great for this). You can have an almost glass-like finish if you invest some effort into polishing.


If the shellac becomes too sticky to easily rub in, you can use a 1 or 2 drops of baby oil (i.e. oil that doesn't rot) to lubricate your sponge. But don't do this on the first layer, because that can get the clay greasy and leave ugly spots.



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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 12 Aug 2012, 18:02 

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Thanks Kres for additional information.
I didn't know the last tip. That's interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 12 Aug 2012, 20:59 

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That was excellent! Thank you posting that, I especially liked the diagram which showed the different effects with the different types of shellac on the same ocarina.


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 12 Aug 2012, 21:32 

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Great article Cedric! Very informative and well laid out :3
I am especially fond of that cherry finish you've displayed here.
Perhaps when you start selling will you Accomodate shellac preferences? I would love one in cherry ^_^


please visit my website and see what Im making! http://facebook.com/oberonocarinas


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 08:44 

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I am not able to view the pictures !?
I got an error message instead -
Domain Unregistered,
to view, register at:
bit.ly/imageshack-domain

Did I do anything worng?


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 09:21 

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pankuolong wrote:
I am not able to view the pictures !?
I got an error message instead -
Domain Unregistered,
to view, register at:
bit.ly/imageshack-domain

Did I do anything worng?

I don't understand why it doesn't work for you.

Does anyone else experience the same problem ?
Thanks for your quick feedback.

To administrators: do you have to register the address of the forum on Imageshack in order that anybody is able to see the pictures ??


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 10:35 

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That's odd, I wasn't aware that we would have to register on imageshack. I have gone to the link, it should be working in a little while.


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 15:31 

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Thanks Bas.

Hope it will work now for Kuolong.

Kuolong:could you inform us if it works now ?


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 16:48 

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no, it is still not working.
what I see is following
Image


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 21:27 

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Wow! I didn't know that shellac was made from insects. That's so cool (and also gross) lol.


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 13 Aug 2012, 23:50 

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Thankyou so much for posting this tutorial Cedric, i am hoping to try my hand with shellac finishes one day and your guide is very useful! Thankyou!


My ocarinas are for sale on eBay

More of my work can be found at http://www.facebook.com/EverettOcarinas


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2012, 17:45 

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Great tutorial!

Regarding dewaxed and waxed -- I've only ever used dewaxed and thought you always remove the wax when you dilute if you have waxed. Are you saying waxed works as just a top coat, or are there other reasons to use (or NOT use) waxed?


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2012, 20:41 

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Both regular waxy and dewaxed shellac work well for ocarinas. I prefer dewaxed shellac, because it is more sticky and there is lesser chance of chipping off. With waxy shellac, there may or may not be problems with durability of the finish, especially if the surface (clay) is not completely clean.


But whatever you do, do not use pre-mixed shellac you can buy at woodworking stores. That stuff is not food-safe, it contains toxic additives that prolong its shelf life and is usually mixed with denatured alcohol.


Never use denatured alcohol for mixing shellac. Always use at least 95% food-grade ethanol (rectified spirit).



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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2012, 21:07 

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Thanks!

Since I've never tried mixing the waxed flakes I may be visualizing what happens completely incorrectly... but when you dissolve the waxed flakes, wax forms on the top, right? Does that need to be filtered out, and is it still considered 'waxed' at that point?

I use THIS brand of flakes in particular, and mix it with 80% Everclear (it's illegal in Florida to sell drinking alcohol over 80%) and it works out okay, but it sort of takes forever to mix. I do get nice results though.

The premixed stuff from the store smells terrible and when I used it for testing purposes it was way too thick and stayed sticky even after letting it sit to dry overnight with only one coat... so... yeah XD


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 Post subject: Re: How to prepare and apply shellac
PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 12:26 

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No, you should not see any wax on top of shellac. In fact, if there is a lot of wax in your shellac it will fall to the bottom, but only after several days of being still.


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