This is where I write about some of the broader ideas and events from the workshop and the world of violin making, including conferences I visit, interactions with other violin makers and musical events. Anything I think might be interesting to read.
One of my colleagues gave me this wreck of a violin blanket recently. It was in a nineteenth century violin case. It’s hand embroidered, probably on a silk/cotton fabric. The warp threads are intact but the weft threads, probably the silk, have almost totally disintegrated, held together only by the embroidery. This blanket is a …read more
Every year the British Violin Making Association (BVMA) hosts the Makers’ Day, a one-day fair of violin makers and traders. On 4 February we all converged on Kings Place, the fine new(ish) concert hall and arts venue which is one of the keystones of the redevelopment of the Kings Cross area in London. This …read more
I’m just back from a holiday in Japan where they take preparations for winter seriously. I’d been particularly keen to see some of the gardens, and was intrigued to find that the gardeners spend a huge amount of time and effort tying tall posts into the pine trees, from which they suspend ropes to support …read more
Last weekend I was in Oxford for a conference of the British Violin Making Association. The title of the conference was Messiah 301, focussing on one of the most famous and notorious Stradivari violins, nicknamed the Messiah, which is in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The violin was made 301 years ago. By …read more
Forty years ago, as a somewhat timid 18 year old, I started my training at the Newark School of Violin Making. We were the first intake in the new building, the old Westminster Bank building on Kirkgate, Newark. In those days the school was much smaller than it is now – an intake of twelve …read more
I’m sometimes asked about how you train to be a violin maker. These days the old apprenticeship system has all but died out, and instead the training is done in a college setting. The students are typically a hugely mixed bunch of all ages and nationalities. People come from very diverse backgrounds; some are skilled …read more
I’ve hit a huge milestone, my 300th instrument! This was an occasion to count up exactly what I’ve made. These are the numbers: 85 full-size violins 15 small-size violins 114 violas (15 inch and over) 35 small-size violas (my own models, 15 inch and under) 51 cellos I count myself fortunate to have had a …read more