Violinmakers often like to collaborate on making instruments. Its a great way to learn from each other and has been major feature of the annual Oberlin violinmaker’s Camp for years
This year at Oberlin a group of us decided it would be fun to build a violin as a group project, but to do it at our home locations. The violin would be passed from maker to maker internationally, with each person contributing to the next stage in its construction. The interesting twist, inspired by the Redwood Violin Project, is that instead of traditional violin materials, each maker would use substitutes grown within a few miles of their home.
Eight participants joined the group in Oberlin with the idea of recruiting two more once the project was under way. I am not naming the participants at this point, you’ll have to check back here and see where the violin goes, who works on it and what challenges they face. I can tell you that there are 10 participants in 9 countries on 3 continents. The project has started, with building the sides of the violin, and the crucial shipping box. You can follow its progress on Instagram
- Have fun. Keep it light hearted.
- The finished violin should be a high quality instrument
- Get the violin completed within a year, ready for the next Oberlin meeting
- Use locally produced materials (Exceptions are being made for glue, drying oil and turpentine, unless the participant wants to tackle these)
- Document the process with photos and video. Publish these on Instagram
- The videos should include several repeated themes
- Opening and dispatching the shipping box
- Interviews with anyone who helps to make the violin or contributes materials
- Say a few words about a favorite tool used
- Make a “knoll” photo of all of the tools used
- The process of finding the materials plus any problems encountered
- Include a surprise item in the box to be revealed by the next participant
- If the project was felt to be successful, to approach media outlets for a write up
Transport. Shipping violins with commercial carriers has become common practice in some parts of the world, but in many others it is either not available or highly risky. If we wanted to include those countries, which we did, we’d have to find couriers, friends or acquaintances, to hand carry the instrument to some destinations.
Reporting. It was decided that Instagram would be the main media for reporting on the project.
Heres a list of the jobs to be done. I’ll add the names and locations of the violinmakers involved when their videos are posted on Instagram
|TASK||PARTICIPANT / (Blogpost)||LOCATION|
|Rib structure. Violinabox shipping case||Hugh Withycombe||Canberra, Australia|
|Back.||Ute Zahn||Minneapolis , USA|
|Make Fingerboard and Purfling||Andrew Carruthers||Santa Rosa, CA, USA|
|Top, F-holes. Bassbar|
|Close box. Fit Purfling. Edge work|
|Carve neck, Fit and Shape neck|
|Prep for varnish. Make varnish|
|Return to Oberlin|
After it’s built….
Completing the violin will mark the end of the first phase of the project. In the second part we hope to loan the instrument out to a series of musicians around the world who will record videos and then pass the instrument on to another musician. getting this to happen will depend very much on the public interest in the fist phase of the project. You can help! The more follows and shares that we get on Instagram, the easier it will be to interest musicians in joining us.
Eventually we will be looking for a good cause to donate the instrument to.