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Crystals on "polka" accordions

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I recently inherited a large supply of Swarovski crystals in a variety of colors from my aunt, who was a crafter. I think she used them on Faberge-style decorative eggs. I have repaired accordions for many years but my use of rhinestones has been limited to installing tactile indicators on bass buttons.
I like the decorations I see on the accordions marketed as "polka models" by companies such as Concerto, Baldoni, Guerrini, and Gabanelli, and I was wondering how to achieve a similar result. Does anyone know how this art is applied to the celluloid body of an accordion? It looks like there are sunburst or flower designs somehow etched in and colored (paints?), then the crystals are glued into holes drilled into the design. I found a good video on how to drill and set crystals by a gentleman who was restoring a pre-war instrument, but I am interested in the decoration of more modern accordions.
I have some scrap instrument bodies I can practice on, but I do not know the actual techniques used to get the perfect lines, colors, and sunbursts. Does anyone have some experience or insight on this decorative style?
 
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While researching and contemplating this decoration idea, I remembered my box of accordion inlay that I inherited from my great-grandfather, who built accordions for a factory in Cleveland in the 1930s, and before that built them in Europe. There are several intricate mother-of-pearl floral designs that are inlaid into thin veneer sheets. I am thinking that I may be able to use these in combination with my Swarovski crystals to make a very nice design, and a tribute to my family heritage. It seems that trying to separate the very thin shell designs from the old wood in order to inlay them in the accordion celluloid may not be wise. I am thinking it might be better to etch out rectangles of celluloid, then imbed the inlaid wooden panels on the surface of my accordion. If I stain the surrounding wood dark black, it may sufficiently match the accordion body. I could sand them level, then coat with a nitrocellulose clear finish before wet sanding for a final finish. After that I can drill and set my crystals.
 

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Here are some scroll panels that I think might look nice next to the tone holes. For the treble side top, I am thiking of removing the Acme badge in order to inset the floral scroll panel.
 

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This pearl eagle is actually inlaid in black celluloid already. I think it would look good centered over the register switches.
 

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It looks like the veneer sheets are almost the same thickness as the aluminum grill. If I make cutouts where the tone holes next to the registers are, I could set the inlay sheets in the openings and put a thin backer behind to keep the inlays in place.
 

jozz

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I have no insight but just wanted to cheer you on with this

it looks like a lot of delicate work to get it right
 
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I cut and stained the three inlay panels I want to use. The ebony stain blackened the wood perfectly. Next I will varnish the pieces in a gloss finish. The photo shows my desired placement. I will have to cut rectangles into the aluminum grill on either side of the register switches in order to countersink the inlay panels into the openings. The long panel on top will be a little easier, since I will only have to cut and miter the rectangle out of the wood and celluloid of the body. I have a rotary tool that may help me with some of this. I trimmed the eagle and I am hand-polishing that piece, since it is already inlaid in celluloid. I think the pearl blends nicely with the register switches.
 

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I made progress on my accordion and I am happy with how it turned out. I was able to cut out the rectangles where the tone holes were next to the register switches. I used a dremel with a cutoff wheel, a hack saw, and a file. I glued the veneer pieces onto aluminum which was larger than the cutouts, and glued them on the inside. I wanted to frame them out to match the grille so I used chrome trim straps. I used a chisel blade in my hobby knife to trim the wood on the top, then glued, filled, and sanded the veneer.
Finally, I set the crystals in the grille and on the veneer. I like being able to apply these heirloom pieces to my accordion and I think the accordion has a little 1930s flavor, now. I retaped the bellows with a gold diamond and replaced the grille cloth. I am rewaxing and revalving all the reeds, so it should sound nice when I am finished.
The next phase of my project will be installation of a MIDI kit and internal condenser microphones.
 

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WaldoW

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These patterns are "applied" at the factory before the accordion is assembled. They are cut into the surface with a pantograph machine. The body is clamped into the machine across from a pattern also clamped into the machine. A stylus is lowered into the pattern and moved around the pattern. At the business end of the pantograph, a router bit moves to follow the pattern at a ratio determined to fit the case size. The router cuts the depressions visible on your accordions, which are then filled with paint. Shallow holes are drilled to accept the 'stones. Cutting a pattern in an existing box would be exceedingly difficult and likely to result in an aesthetically ruined accordion. Doing this by hand requires years of practice. Good luck!
 

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