Carruthers Violins logo

The concept of the project is covered more fully in a previous post. This post follows the violin’s progress through the hands of 10 violinmakers around the world as they each add to the instrument. The project can be followed in more depth on Instagram: @Violinabox. Please help make the project a success by following and sharing the Instagram posts.

Building the violin:

Hugh Withycombe, Canberra Australia

Hugh Withycombe graduated from Newark School of Violinmaking , UK, in 2001. He now runs a full service violin shop, making, repairing and restoring instruments, in Canberra, Australia.

Hugh holding the mold with corner blocks. The ribs will be attached to these blocks.

Outline, mold and ribs

Hugh designed the outline for the violin body and made the ribs (sides) of the violin using Tasmanian Blackwood, a type of Acacia. The linings are Lombardy Poplar from a tree planted in the 1870’s by a homesick Italian aristocrat. The bottom and corner blocks were made from Paulownia, a very light, resonant wood used in some Chinese bowed instruments. The top block is Willow harvested from a nearby creek. All of these woods were provided by Hugh’s friend and colleague, mandolin maker, Graham McDonald.

The Box!

Being the first participant, it also fell to Hugh to build the shipping box for the violin. Inspiration and whimsy led to a box with unusual form in the violin world. Besides being compact and strong, the box also includes a customs-confounding secret compartment.

Ute Zahn, Minneapolis, USA

Ute Zahn graduated from the violinmaking school in Newark, England in 1987. She now runs a violin making and repair studio in Minneapolis.

Ute preparing to take the outline of the back from the ribs

Violin back

Ute made the back of the violin. Her search for a wood with suitable density, texture and color led her first to Wood from the Hood, an urban tree salvage business. Eventually she visited her friend, bowmaker Lee Guthrie in Hudson, Wisconsin, who had what she needed. The piece of Cherry wood came from a tree that Lee had cut 45 years earlier as part of his previous life as a land surveyor.