Happy easter! (3 weeks late)

24 Apr

Over Easter weekend I told some important people in my life that I would get at least one post up to show what I’ve been doing lately and although extremely late, here it is.

For some general catch up, I’m still working with Jens. I’ll be switching apartments in about a month. My family is coming to travel soon as well. That covers most of it ūüėõ

In work I’ve been making a lot of bridges which is good because I’ve become much more secure in what needs to be done and how to do it.

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I’m still slower than I need to be but speed comes with time and repetition.

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Bridges are also a very common job that is essential to know how to do well.

I helped fix a Pollastri viola made in 1949. It had some gnarly cracks that needed to be cleaned, glued, and retouched.
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Once the cracks were glued, I reinforced them with cleats.
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I also changed the bassbar. This was the old bassbar:
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And here is the new one nearly finished:
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Recently, I closed the sound box of my own violin.
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Outside of work, I’ve has the fortune to travel a little as well. These are from Lago d’Iseo:
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Carlos, Beom-Seok, and I also visited Sirmione in the same trip:

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I visited Beom-Seok in Mantova while he was working with a Korean film crew:
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There was even a ridiculous snow day about two months ago:

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We had to shovel Jens out before we could get to work:

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All in all things have been going really well.

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Closing time

14 Dec

This is the second time that I’m writing this post. The first time it was completely ready to upload but I lay out somehow woke adding a title. This time I happen to be in the airport while I’m writing it.

The last two weeks were primarily finishing various things. At work we closed two cellos. I also opened and closed a violin. I doubt people are aware of how much work needs to take place to properly close and instrument. Rarely does the top come off the ribs with absolutely no damage. It’s very normal for a few splinters to remain on the ribs and these must be removed and returned to their original pace when possible. Sometimes these splinters are too use and wood filler is used instead. Regardless, the gluing surface must be smoothed to ensure that the pieces are glued shut completely.

When all of this work is complete, the top is held in place with clamps but without glue to check that all the original measurements are maintained. It is also necessary because old instruments often deform when opened and care must be taken to push the ribs back their original position when gluing.  Glue is finally applied in sections by removing a few clamps at a time. Ask this must be cleaned of excess glue afterward.

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This is the Carlos Bruno cello being glued shut.

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Here is the Antonio Guadagnini cello being glued.

I also opened a violin by Artigiano Arlotti. This instrument was probably in the worst condition of any violin I’ve yet seen. A previous restorer reinforced the exaggerated thin plates with house glue and clay. A piece was added where there was presumably a hole. This was reinforced with parchment and there would be visible holes in the top were it not there.

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The back of the Arlotti violin.

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The top of the Arlotti violin.

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Here you can see where the light passes through everything except the parchment.

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I closed the Arlotti violin without working on it because anyrestoration would have been much, much more extensive than what the owner originally intended.

Aside from work a Korean friend of mine had a Christmas party with an absurd amount of amazing Korean food.

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There was also a little sunlight finally.

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This will be my last post until after the holidays. Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone.

Bassbar, torrone, milan

26 Nov

This week I fitted another cello bassbar. I’d like to say it went a lot easier but in reality it seemed roughly as hard as the last one. I am happy to have had the oportunity to do another so soon after the last one. I need some repetition to solidify some of the new things I’ve been doing.

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This is a picture of the very beginning.

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When it was finished Jens showed me how to glue it. Very often gluing is one of the hardest or most tense moments of working. This is because the glue has a short working time and can cause swelling and other complications if it is not done quickly and correctly.

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Here the bassbar is glued but still needs to be shaped.

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This is the what it looks like when it is nearly completely  finished.

This past weekend was a festival fire torrone; nougat special to cremona. There were vendors from all over Italy.

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This man is making torrone to give as samples.

I also went to Milan with some friends on Sunday. Originally we wanted to go see an exhibition of art by Van Gogh. In the end we just walked around Milan all day and did not go see the art.

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Sound post patch challenge: complete

20 Nov

The last two days have been devoted to shaping and chalk fitting the piece of wood fills the space I dug out previously. Theoretically it is not difficult to understand but in practice it wasn’t particularly easy.

I began fitting a block of spruce cut slightly larger than the space I made using a chisel.

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After roughly shaping the block I added chalk to see where there were bumps that needed removed. 

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I would simply put the block in place and tap on it to show me where to remove wood.

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When it had a much closer fit, I added tiny blocks of wood to ensure it was in the exact same spot every time.

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I continued removing wis with my chisel until there was a laticework of chalk across the entire piece. I then used a very fine rasp to remove the bumps and finish the fit.

Prior to gluing, we used a great lamp to earn both the cello top and the wood block. This gives a longer working time with the glue.

Here is the glued piece. Tomorrow I will the excess wood of the block.

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Sound post patch, kittens, and floods

18 Nov

Today and yesterday I worked on the sound post patch that we made the plaster cast for. A sound post patch is done when a crack forms in the top of the instrument. It is a fairly common problem sure to the stress of the sound post.

In order to begin, I first needed to remove the old patch (which was poorly done) then dig out a larger area for the new patch.

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The area is dug out to just half a millimeter of thickness at its thinnest point and I now understand the necessity of the plaster cast. When everything was ready I was able to begin shaping the new patch.

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In other cremona news, the Po river was/is flooding. We had nonstop rain for the last two weeks and water from all over northern Italy made the river dangerously full.

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Thankfully it did not overflow the final dikes before the nearby houses. Today we had a very welcome day of sun.

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And finally, Jens had the newborn kittens. They are adorable.

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Vacuum

14 Nov

Over the last two days we used a vacuum pump quite a lot.

Here you can see the patch made to correct both the arching and thicknesses of a very old violin top.

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After heating the patch, the top, and the cast with the corrected arching, the pieces were glued together. The heat gives a longer work time to the natural animal flute that we use.

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In order to properly close the two, we used the vacuum pump first (which gives an equal pressure over the whole piece) as well as a lot of clamps.

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Today we made a cast of part of a cello top that needs a new sound post patch. The top was put in a vacuum bag to make the most accurate cat possible while protecting it from damage.

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We then mixed the plaster and poured out into the blocked off area needed to support and hold the top stable throughout the restoration.

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Here it is drying in the oven.

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Finally, here is a picture is of the sunset over the cremonese countryside.  It was the first day without rain in almost two weeks.

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Back at it.

12 Nov

Over a year ago I completely stopped posting new blogs. Since then I’ve finished school, been back and forth between the states a few times, and very recently acquired a new phone. The phone is important namely because it works well. I’m going to try my hand at mobile blogging and see how it goes.

Since coming back to cremona after the summer, I’ve been learning from Jens Johansson. He’s a Swedish violin maker and restorer who works in Cremona’s countryside. I feel very lucky to be learning from him.

I have a 40 minute bus ride twice a day and I’ll try to use this time for new pays every now and then. Here are a few pictures of what I’ve recently done or an currently doing.

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I learned how to do spiral bushings(the white ring around the peg.) These diminish the size of a peg hole by gluing a spiraled wood shaving in place. 

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I made a cello bassbar for the first time and will making a new one soon.

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I learned how to color new restorations so that they do not remain bright white wood.

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Finally, i puzzled together and glued splinters and pieces of a different cello that we opened. I had been glued using flute that was to strong and was write a mess to put back together.

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Finally here is a picture from a concert featuring traditional Korean instruments.

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Restoration

20 Aug

Last of Bergamo

18 Aug

This will be the last post featuring pictures of Bergamo. ¬†I don’t have much more to add to the description from two days ago but these will show more pictures of the enactors and their camps. ¬†There is the obvious spattering of castle pictures but it is difficult to properly portray how amazing that building was. ¬†The last few are from around Bergamo including pictures of both its main Cathedral and the smaller ancient one immediately next to it. ¬†The final picture is simply a random house but we thought it was interesting how strong the colors and patterns were on a normal house.

Brescia

16 Aug

After our failed trip to Lago di Garda, we decided to stop in Brescia instead of continuing directly back to Cremona.  This was surprisingly one of the most successful legs of our journey and Brescia turned out to be beautiful.  We set out toward the castle because a friend of mine spoke particularly high of it.  I thought the town got progressively nicer the further we were from the train station and the closer we were to the castle.

We stopped to eat near the castle and almost decided not to go to see it because I thought there was a political rally taking place there. ¬†Just before going back to the train station we went to see what all the noise was about and found a full renaissance reenactment taking place. ¬†The entire castle of Brescia, which is one of the most impressive castles I’ve ever seen, was covered with medieval camps and had well over 100 enactors including knights, men-at-arms, squires, and women. ¬†After a mock battle, they all returned to their camps where they ate and drank; there was also a faire where we could buy medieval food and drink or crafts. ¬†The combination of the amazing castle with the enactors really made this trip something special.