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Re: Flute

> 1) The ivory has a crack about 3/64" wide, along its entire
> length. I have some legal ivory that I purchased from the
> Martin Guitar Company that I could use to fill this crack. Is
> it considered okay to do this, or should I leave it alone, and
> not be able to play the instrument?

I would make a reproduction head joint in more suitable material for
play, keeping the ivory for display.  Ivory is great for looks, but
wasnt really very suitable for woodwinds, especially for something as
wet as a flutes head joint.

When used to "reinforce" joints it invariably both cracks and
damages the joint by crushing the underlying wood, often to the point
of distorting the bore.  If used for the main body it invariably
cracks.  If it also goes oval the bore will need recutting before the
instrument will function as intended (not recomended).

Are the main bore and other joint still round?  The instrument may
need work beyond the obvious.

> 2) If I decide to repair it, what is the best solution for
> aging the new ivory. I've heard of people using tea. The old
> ivory is of course a dark yellow and the new is _very_ white.

hopefully you have considerable material to work with, as some
experimentation will be in order.  Tea is one option, analine dye is
another.  Try miss clairol before going to the decidedly toxic
alcohol soluable variety.  Experiment with a variety of titrated
solutions to see what coloring develops.

Before you do anything permanent in the way of restoration measure
the bore as many ways as you can contrive to. the reason it cracked
in the first place was due to very strong forces which are now
releived but which have distorted the bore shape, you will have to be
inventive when deciding what the original bore dimensions may have
been.  BTW, expect it to crack again.

> 4) Would it be sacrilegious to silver plate the keys and posts.
> I do this for my customers all the time, and I play on all
> silver clarinets. I also can plate gold, nickel or copper at my
> shop. But would I be taking away from the makers work?

You have the instrument in hand, and thus have the responsibility to
answer this one.  IMHO, if the nickel is uncorroded I would leave it

Dana S. Emery, assistant to Dr. Swofford
Smithsonian Institution
Laboratory of Molecular Systematics
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD  20746

(301) 238-3444     (voice)
(301) 238-3059     (fax)
emery@onyx.si.edu  (internet)

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