Student at Newark School of Violin Making
RAB Awards 2016, 2017
Education Services award winner 2017
We awarded Daniel Chick the funds for the purchase of one of the best books a violin maker can dream of: Peter Biddlulph’s Guarneri del Gesu book. Daniel writes of his award:
“In 2016 I was awarded funds towards the purchase of the Peter Biddulph ‘Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu’ books. These books are widely recognised as the one of the largest contributions to literature on the work of Guarneri del Gesu. They include an in-depth study of his working methods, a biographical history as well as life size colour photographs, measurements and templates for 25 violins and have been an invaluable resource in my attempts at copying the 1735 ‘Plowden’ and 1743 ‘Carrodus’.
In conjunction with the books I have been working alongside a maker/repairer who has had first hand experience repairing Guarneri del Gesu violins and vast experience in copying them himself.
The combination of the books and working with the maker have been crucial in furthering my understanding of del Gesu. With these books I have been able to read and compare Roger Hargrave’s approach to the making methods of del Gesu with that of other makers from online forums and discussions. I’ve been able to trial these various concepts and techniques on my copies which has allowed me to determine for myself which I feel best reflects the working methods of Guarneri del Gesu through the results they created. An example of this was when making the scroll. I was instructed that that the uneven fluting through the middle of the scroll was a result of the scroll block not being squared once cut out. This in combination with the turns being dictated by the chamfer (rather than vice versa) resulted in uneven high points throughout the middle of fluting in the scroll.
In 2017 I was again fortunate to receive another sum towards the purchase of wood for my cello, a copy of a 1743 Paulo Testore which was made with Oppio wood. I was able to source this specific species of maple through Bois de Lutherie. It was important for me to use the same wood as the original as the wood itself dictates how the maker will approach the instrument, which in turn will reflect on their working methods which is what I am aiming to understand.
In 2017 I was also awarded a work experience with Cambridge based maker and restorer Jonathan Woolston. During my time there I worked on a violin, including opening cracks which had been poorly glued before it entered the workshop, cleaning them and re-glueing them in the correct position restoring the arch, as well as a neck graft.
Though I had completed four neck grafts before, this was my first as a repair and Jonathan taught me a lot about ensuring that the fit of the neck graft would not compromise the original scroll in any way. If the fit was not perfect it would distort the shape of of the peg box and therefore distort the maker’s original intention which is not an acceptable approach in restoration.
I am extremely grateful for the support the RAB trust has given me. The trust and everyone involved has allowed me the luxury of affording resources I otherwise could not have due to the restrictions on my working hours as a international student. My learning has accelerated in a way that would not have been possible without their support.”