Making a Violin: Purfling and Storytelling

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Cutting the channel

Cutting the channel

It is purfling time.  Brian has a tool that lays the track, two faint  lines etched into the wood. They are a bare millimeter apart, maybe two, maybe three, but they seem impossibly close together. I have my 5x magnifiers so that I can see the barely there line.  And the knife with the surgical steel blades, the blades that are made for delicately slicing the broken parts of humanity so that they can be made whole again. I take the knife and slice into the line, no not even slice at this point, I barely push against it to deepen the groove. Both sides, an imperceptible deepening like a trickle of water that becomes a deep river.  And I search for the metaphors in that process and the one of discovering the story, because they are linked, the birth of one engendering the birth of the other; an odd pair of fraternal twins, sharing the same womb. I cannot rush either, the unfolding of the story or the making of the violin.  I lay down the line and gently push the channel, deepening as it unfolds. If I rush it doesn’t happen. If I try to force it, to make it go faster I have ruined the wood, I have nothing that lasts, nothing that resonates through time and space.

It hurts my finger, the maple is hard and yet it’s not. It moves with the pressure, it parts as easily as if the fibers are held by nothing more than a thought.  My thought that pushes against the resistance of logic and makes the channel creates the groove. 

I go outside the line.  It is inevitable, my hand is not quite steady enough. My magnified eyesight still does not see clearly.  But after a few attempts I find it and the line is deepened and once the line is deepened the next pass is easier. I have a clear track to follow. I am no longer lost in the deep snow. My metaphors mingle and clash with one other but they do the job. 

I just need to breathe. I just need to slow down and let myself truly see.


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