West Dean College
RAB Awards 2014, 2015, 2016
Education Services award 2016
“In my third year at West Dean I was awarded a financial bursary to buy tools and a book. The tools that I have bought vary from cutting, measuring and proper set up equipment. The book I have bought is ‘Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu’ by P. Biddulph, a very good reference book to have with valuable information.
RAB trust have helped me a lot to establish myself. I have been able to buy fundamental equipment to do my work as an instrument maker and restorer. I am very grateful for them and I hope the Trust can continue growing to support even more students who need help, whether this is financial support, a gift or an educational work placement that can possibly lead to future employment.
The instrument that I have made as my final year project is a bass Viol inspired by the work of Henry Smith, an English viol maker based in Holborn, active in the 17th century. At the moment, there are 4 or possibly 5 original viols in existence attributed to Henry Smith.
I was excited to produce an instrument made in the style of Smith. I collected all the information I could get from the four original instruments. I worked from pictures, drawings/dimensions and plaster casts of head carvings. I put together aspects I liked from each instrument for my design. The body shape and the carved head are taken from the 1637 bass viol and belongs in a private collection in Haslemere. I made a visit to the owner to see and play the Instrument. The rosette is based on the 1629 tenor in the Metropolitan Museum in the USA. The purfling decoration is on the body of a Smith viol in the V&A Museum in London and the decoration on the peg box and from the original pegs of the 1623 alto from Dean Castle, Scotland.
The neck I made out of wild service and the top is constructed out of a 5 piece spruce bent front. I have built up the instrument by assembling the parts on a flat board instead of using an internal mould. The rosette is made out of maple and vellum. The box wood pegs I have turned on a lathe and the viol is gut strung.
I have now started a new job at Tim Toft violins as a repairer/restorer. I am learning every day. On the side I keep making instruments such as viols, cellos and violins. I hope to become a successful maker/restorer in the future.”