Making A Violin: Arching, Flow, and To Scroll Or Not to Scroll

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Pencil Gauged Lines on Final Arching

Pencil Gauged Lines
on Final Arching

Look at the lines.  It is all about the flow.  Thumb plane and scrapers.  At first I draw the lines and they are wavy and chaotic.  I have to scrape away until the line flows, until it doesn’t take a meandering path, but instead flows in one continuous smooth arc across the wood.

I feel awkward and Clumsy. It isn’t easy.  That is the way of flow.  It tricks us into thinking it will be easy but it never is the crafting of a  perfect combination of words in a poem, or the placement of a  line  that effortlessly says human form – simple elegant, flow.  The eye just follows and it is right and satisfying.

Go with the flow, let it flow, love flows……emotional flow, physical flow, design flow.  I never appreciated how beautiful a violin is.   The arches, the ribs, the scroll.  Ah the scroll.  My husband and I are having a discussion, heated at times.  He says how can you spend all this time making an instrument and not do something unusual with the scroll. The one piece that does not affect the sound but can be seen from across the room.  The one thing that will set your instrument apart from all the others.  And I balk.  I think about what I might want and I cannot picture anything other than the scroll. Even if I could carve something else, what could it be?

Not a head, not a face, I don’t want some wood sprite staring at me every time I lift my fiddle.  I don’t want personality or even a totem, maybe a flower or a leaf, but it always comes back to the scroll. Why the scroll? What is it about the design that has made it iconic and pervasive?  It flows.  The wood is visually wound up on itself and I have the sense that it can be unwound and inside is a treasure a seed of thought, of sound, of life itself curled and carved into that gentle flow.

Always back to flow.  The back is arched.  There is nothing left to scrape, the eyelash has been flicked from the sleeping baby’s cheek and now there is only softness and quiet and flow.  I rest in this moment. 


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