This beautiful E. Sartory violin bow was in the shop for a pearl eye replacement. When working with a bow of some age, special attention is needed to ensure an original appearance.
Removing the Old Pearl
Before a new eye can be fit, the old worn and degraded pearl must be removed.
As it was likely that this eye was glued in with Hide Glue, and a drop or two of hot water will loosen the eye. Much of the old pearl worked free or crumbled and came right out. Great care was taken to not oversaturate the area with water as to prevent the silver ring from working itself out.
The recess was further cleaned out with Dental Tools and the surfaces prepared to accept the new pearl eye.
Abalone shell was selected to match the opposite eye and pearl slide.
The pearl is oriented in a such a way that it is most iridescent when the frog is viewed from the side with the pearl slide facing down. This is how most people will view the frog on bows.
The perimeter of the pearl is filed to fit the recess perfectly. One drop of Cyanoacrylate Glue is placed in the recess and the eye is set in place. Once the cyanoacrylate fully cures, the cheeks of the frog are protected with electrical tape and the excess pearl is removed with a half-round Needle File.
Because the ebony has worn a little, the silver ring sits slightly proud and great care is taken to not touch it or the ebony with files. The thickness of the tape ensures that the pearl is still a little thicker and keeps the files from getting too close to the silver ring.
The final shaping is carefully done with acid and a cotton swab. The edges of the pearl are brought exactly to the ebony while a little dishing in the center is necessary so that the eye appears to have very light wear. This is important on a bow like this since the rest of the pearl on the bow shows light wear. The acid gives a nice patina to the pearl and no additional polishing of the eye is needed.
I really like to polish the frog with a little Renaissance Wax to protect the wood, silver, and pearl which also brightens up the finish without changing the original patina.
The Final Result
The end results leave an appropriately full pearl eye with a nice patina that matches the light wear to this fine old bow. Additionally, the side of the frog is never touched with any abrasives so that the natural patina of the ebony matches the rest of the frog.