Dick's Forum

                     Dick’s Forum – No. 2


    Violins all looked alike to me for many years. Certainly, I could see differences in color and size but that was about all. I hadn’t trained myself to see the different characteristics that made each one unique and individual. The ability to see these differences is in the ability to be able to “see” rather than “look”. To “see” is to notice and remember how things are the same, how things are different, and how they compare to other similar things.

 A handmade violin scroll is a work of art. It may be a masterful piece of carving skill or very roughly done and therein lies the ability to begin to see the differences in them. It is actually two works of art, one on each side, each duplicating the other in a mirror image. Look at one side of a violin scroll. See the depth of the cuts, sharpness of the edges.  Can you see chisel cuts in the curves (volutes) where the maker made his cuts?  Are the curves round, oval, flattened ovals, irregular ovals?  Note the other distinctive things you observe. Now, turn the scroll over and see if those same characteristics are duplicated on the other side. If you see new characteristics or similar ones in different places you may be looking at a handmade scroll because differences (sometimes very subtle) in the two sides are one characteristic of a handmade scroll.

 Sometimes makers are more adept and making one side of a scroll than the other and this will become apparent as you begin to see these things.

 I went through this same process with “F” holes and purfling with each violin I owned and came in contact with. I quickly learned to see differences in the scrolls, “f” holes, and purfling. I didn’t always know what they meant but I began to see them and that was the first step in learning to recognize the makers “hand” in his work.

 There is much more to this topic but this is a good staring point.  It will be continued in a future forum