West Dean College
RAB Award 2019
Eunjoo Lee was awarded funding for tools.
She writes about her work and her award:
I am a final year student at West Dean College for historic craft in musical instrument making.
I was awarded a financial bursary to purchase tools and I received extra mini planes which were donated by the supporters of RAB Trust.
This year, I am making a copy of a bass viola da gamba attributed to the English maker John Rose, which is in the Ashmolean Museum. It has a carved head and some other carving details. For that, I purchased carving tools. Unlike the scroll and open scroll carving, the head carving and rosette carving needed some very tiny chisels for making the shape of faces and some other details. I feel grateful for their support to help me to make my carving possible.
I am particularly interested in Baroque and Renaissance music and musical instruments. It gives me a motivation to learn about historic methods and materials inherited from early makers’ thoughts and skills in violin and viola da gamba making. Thus, I would like to understand and discover the methods which were used when the instruments were built. That is why I decided to make a Baroque violin and viola da gamba.
The bass viol I am working on now has a festooned outline, nine-piece ribs and eight rounded corners to be assembled and glued. It is a great challenge to develop the method to be able to construct those complicated sides without a mould and corner blocks. Therefore, I am going to try a new method for constructing this viol body with my current tutor Shem Mackey. I will be happy to examine the method and discover a way to build this instrument in a historical way.
For successful analysis and decision making, I had to visit the Ashmolean Museum to examine the details with attention; distinguish the drawing, and take photograph before I start to build my instruments. This is because a small factor could influence the direction for establishing a successful method. Most importantly, it is vital to think of what kind of materials, tools and technical resources were available at the time when the instrument was built, regardless of what we now have access to.
I think there is a risk in making such an instrument. Some of the required methods are either new or have not been used for a long time by makers. It is important to review the possible construction with several tests using historical tools in order to estimate its practicability and reliability. All those uncertainties can raise some anxiety for the makers due to all the hours they might spend without perceived progress. It requires an adventurous mind!
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