In June 2018 I was lucky enough to be awarded the RAB Special Award: funding to attend BVMA Restoration Course 2019 with three tutors who specialise in restoration, Almuth McWilliams, Gudrun Kremeier and Warren Bailey.I brought two violins to work on during this week. On the first, I focused on a patch of woodworm that had targeted the upper bout of a violin back and gone so far as to be visible from the varnish side of the plate. We talked about how best to proceed, both from a purely aesthetic point of view and from the view of a conservationist, trying to preserve as much original material as possible.This instrument had also had a layer of over varnish on the entire instrument, so I learned the various different methods on how to go about taking any unoriginal varnish off, without damaging the original varnish underneath.
My second instrument had been cracked and left in a state of disrepair for many years, so not only was there wood missing, but dirt had got into the pores of the wood, creating a kind of stain in and around the crack. My main point of interest here was learning how to go about cleaning wood that had been affected by dirt and dust, preventing the crack from going together invisibly, and then learning how to replace missing wood if needed.
I can’t thank RAB Trust and everyone involved with the West Dean restoration course enough for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.
Each year the RAB Trust makes a significant award to an outstanding student, giving them the opportunity to participate at a high-level training course. The British Violin Making Association runs a biennial restoration course at West Dean College in Sussex, and Sarah Padday, who studied at Newark School of Violin Making, was the lucky recipient of the award. This is her report: