Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time for another violin update, yes-siree!

When last I posted, I was working on the arch of the top, but have put that aside momentarily while I work on some other elements.

These are the matched pieces of maple ready to be joined to form the back of the instrument:

I planed the edges to make sure they'd fit together snugly, held them over a hot plate for a few minutes to make them as receptive as possible to the hide glue, then glued and clamped them (with a bit of help, of course).

Leaving that to dry and set, I turned again to the ribs. Peter helped me dig up a temporary back plate to attach to them, which will stabilize and support them during the next step. I first traced around the ribs to make sure the plate would be big enough...

...and then glued them together--with very small drops of glue (I'll have to break the seal later, so the smaller the adhered area, the better):

Once that had set, we were able to pop the second half of the form out, leaving just the ribcage attached to the temporary back. Then I started to glue in the linings (a process I was familiar with from having glued one set onto the other side previously). The clothes pins hold the linings tightly against the ribs so that they form a solid bond all the way around the curves.

I attached them all, then set that component aside to dry, too.

I then moved on to some preliminary work on the scroll. Exciting! Here's the block of headstock I'm starting with, all squared up after a few passes through the joiner, and sitting on top of a sheet of provided measurements.

Using a tried-and-true metal template of Peter's (which you can see a bit of in the upper left corner of the next photo), I traced out the shape of the scroll on both sides of the headstock--including pierced marks to indicate the curve of the barrels, and the places where the pegs will eventually go.

That's that!


  1. I'll do almost anything for a quarter, but all I have to say to this is: whoa. Or maybe wow. This looks like such an intense process (if something that also seems like it takes FOREVER can be intense).

    Also, how did people ever make violins before there were clothespins?

  2. (Okay, I owe you--I'll put it on my tab.)

    Re: pre-clothespin technology--what do you think the tiny fingers of underage apprentices are for?

  3. This is so pretty... Looks more like a series of da Vinci drawings.

  4. I agree with SB and Anissa.
    Just now occurred to me how labor-intensive this process is. Must be very different from painting and fun.

  5. Thanks, both!

    Anissa: I think the renaissance drawing comparison is apt--the minute measurements, the curves... And the violin shop itself is a place you would love, for its arcane specialization. The room is full of windows and has a honey-colored wood floor, and every student has their own workbench equipped with their own tools...and the tools themselves are beautiful, too, elegant in the simplicity and utility of their design. And there is perpetually Russian folk music playing and tea steeping. (Do I over-romanticize? Then I over-romanticize.)

    Hilary: yes, it is *just* different enough from my other work. Like painting, it still happens in minute increments--but unlike painting, where you start with a blank surface and build up layers of stuff until it's beautiful, it's a subtractive process where you keep snicking away fragments until you get to the beautiful thing that's left. Gives me a sense of balance! :)