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Mixing Dyes To Acheive A Specific Color


fookgub
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Can anyone point me towards a systematic approach to mixing dyes for translucent colors? I'm trying to replicate some colors I did a while back. I did these colors in shellac using LMI's MEK-based dye concentrates. Now I'm using lacquer, and the colors coming out are totally different, even though I used the same mix ratios and dyes. I've managed to replicate the red I was using (the recipe in lacquer is totally different), but I had a really nice orange-ish amber that I can't seem to replicate (I'm up to 9 separate tries now, and I'm getting frustrated).

Here is a picture of the color. It's a bit washed out and a little too orange, but it gets the idea across. I've got the red, but I just can't seem to get that amber.

vax-burst2.jpg

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I'm less versed in various types of finishing than I'd like to be, but my impression from what I've read is that shellac sticks to most anything, and most things stick to shellac - might be worth experimenting with with spraying the mixes you know you like with shellac, and then applying laquer over that.

What type of laquer are you using? Shellac often has an amber-ish component to it - I'm sure this could effect the tone of the finish you get with it. Some laquers will have more or less of this ambering tint. Some will be almost perfectly clear and impart almost no additional color to the finish. Some water-based laquers have a slight bluish tint to them (especially when sprayed thick) and this can also interfere with subtle colorings. Something to keep in mind.

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Hit or miss seems to be the most common way to copy the color. You can try to narrow it down a little though. Maybe try copying the color of the shellac first, then once you have that try adding to get your amber. If it takes three colors to make a new one, try matching the base color first and then continuing instead of trying right for the final color.

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Hit or miss seems to be the most common way to copy the color. You can try to narrow it down a little though. Maybe try copying the color of the shellac first, then once you have that try adding to get your amber. If it takes three colors to make a new one, try matching the base color first and then continuing instead of trying right for the final color.

Why didn't I think of this? I really need to mix up some color using my old recipe in shellac. That would at least tell me whether or not the dyes I'm using are really the same color. I hope that the colors are fairly consistent batch to batch, as I'm using new red and yellow dye. I suspect that my older dyes have evaporated somewhat (they've been sitting on the shelf for about a year), which would affect the colors in unpredictable ways.

I would like to avoid using shellac on the actual guitar, though. I really don't like how it sprays or sands, and I think everything will be a little easier if I stick with a single paint system. Plus I'm finally getting the hang of spraying lacquer. I doubt that the tint of the medium has much effect on the overall color. The shellac I used was quite blond. Still a little more amber than lacquer, but I doubt the tint of the shellac alone is enough to produce the wildly different colors I've been seeing. The dyes seem to "express" themselves better in the lacquer. Especially the black dye.

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I've been working on this for the past couple days, and I've gotten things mostly sorted out. I mixed up a batch of color in shellac using my original recipe. Much to my surprise, it was virtually identical to the colors I've been getting in lacquer. The only difference is the lacquer builds better, so I use half as much dye in the lacquer mixtures. I also mixed up a batch of the same color using fresh dyes that I just bought from LMI. Again, the color is exactly the same as I was getting with the "old" dyes. This was a surprise, and I was assuming the the color shift I've been getting was due to partial evaporation of my old dyes.

So, I've taken a few variables out of the equation. The old dyes I've been using appear to be the same color as the "fresh" ones I just ordered (this is for brown and black only, as I've been using "fresh" red and yellow all along). The colors appear to be the same in shellac and lacquer. I'm spraying the colors on offcuts from the same piece of wood as my original color samples from a year ago, and I have an original color sample to compare to. The only explanation left that I can think of is that LMI's dyes must be inconsistent from batch to batch.

Anyway, I would be very frustrated by this, but I'm starting to like the yellow I've been coming up with. I sprayed a burst on one of my test pieces last night and it looks really nice, so I think I'm just going to use it and go on.

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