September 2013

The fourth cello of the year is off the mould and ready for assembly; a Strad model this time, as is the next one, for Judith. So the fresh blocks go straight back onto the mould after a little cleaning up, her name is inscribed as the ninth beneficiary (if I may presume…) of the mould made back in 1995, and ribs are laid out for preparation. This cello will be based, at Judith’s request, on the gorgeous ‘Gore-Booth’ of 1710, so the hunt for suitable wood is on.

In the varnish cabinet, the copy of Paul Watkin’s Venetian cello is trying on another coat of varnish. It seems to fit.

Which leaves space on the main bench for plaster casting of a Testore viola and a Gofriller cello. I hope SuperHube will be back from holidays soon. I need fresh power.

I’m missing the Stradivari Exhibition at the Ashmolean already. By great good fortune, I was able to get access to some of the best- well my favourite- instruments, and log some valuable and interesting (to me) notes. I’m very grateful to the generous patrons of the event. I worry I’m getting into a bad habit of looking for ‘mistakes’ in the great man’s work. ‘Mistake’ is a relative term. I wouldn’t want to appear over-critical, but the minor slips do give the clue to the technique, and also add humanity to these fantastic instruments. So they are interesting and relevant, but Stradivari’s ‘mistakes’are way beyond what I would count as a success in my own work. Jamie Buchanan ( introduced me to a wonderful phrase, ‘Homer nods’. It means, crudely, that even the great suffer lapses of concentration. It helps you appreciate the intensity of effort that has gone into everything that may appear, because of their genius, so effortless.
And after all that, I’m to make a copy of the great mans ‘Gore Booth’, and later this year, the ‘Alard’ violin. I hope he’s nodding.

Violin mould

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