2011 Southern California Violin Makers Workshop


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I just got back from the Southern California Violin Makers Workshop. Unfortunately, I could only attend for a week. Fortunately, I could attend for a week. Matter of perspective, I suppose.

My fourth time there, and as usual, Jim Brown did a magnificent job getting everything organized and keeping it running, in spite of recent back surgery. Also as usual, Michael Darnton was a great teacher.

It went too fast, but I did manage to take a few photos, and have created a set on Flickr here.

The official web-site of the workshop is here.

The workshop is still going on, this week and the following one. I hope others will post their photos as well.

Well worth the time and money. I have my deposit in for next year's.

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Ken,

Thanks for posting the pics! :)

You're welcome, Don. I saw that viola you made for Sally -- really nice and great varnish. Some year we'll be there again at the same time, play a few tunes.

For those who might be interested, Don got a write-up in the current issue of "Fiddler" magazine. You can read an excerpt here.

VERY good workshop. Worth every penny.

True, Chet. It's a lot of pennies, but my understanding of fiddles takes a big leap each year I'm there. Anyone interested in making ought to attend a workshop, either this one or another. We're in a great time of access to information, but there's still nothing like being in a workshop with someone who knows what they're doing.

Ken,

LYG misses you. Come home soon. And thanks for the memories.

It was fun. I just finished up the commemorative yellow M&Ms. Fortunately on the way out, we stopped at Trader Joes and got a bottle of grappa which I might have to open soon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This workshop run by Jim and taught by Michael Darnton is addictive. I can't imagine a June without going to Claremont and worrying the heck out of spruce or maple. We'll be back for more next year.

Don't forget the amazing guidance by Lynn Hannings in the bow making workshop...Lots going on there besides bow making. many were learning all types of bow repair as well as rehair. Bring a project and be ready to learn! I was able to make a decent bow out of a stick of pernambuco impersonating a corkscrew. Any sane bowmaker would've giving up but Lynn kept me at it. (I'm sure it was quite entertaining) Ha Ha. post-5082-0-53270000-1309070829_thumb.jpgpost-5082-0-83017300-1309070838_thumb.jpgpost-5082-0-16285900-1309070852_thumb.jpg

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I just got back from the Southern California Violin Makers Workshop. Unfortunately, I could only attend for a week. Fortunately, I could attend for a week. Matter of perspective, I suppose.

<snipped>

Well worth the time and money. I have my deposit in for next year's.

This was the first year I have attended. I, too, could only attend a week but was fortunate to be able to. However I was there the week after you, Ken, and all I kept hearing was how quiet it was without Ken! Someone dubbed me the Honorary Ken on the last day of my week - since I have never met you, I'm not quite sure if that's a good or bad honorarium!!! ;):P

I've put in my deposit for week #1 next year - perhaps we'll meet then.

Oh...agree with everything said about Jim Brown's great organization and set-up, and how wonderful Michael is as a teacher!

--Bruce

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This was the first year I have attended. I, too, could only attend a week but was fortunate to be able to. However I was there the week after you, Ken, and all I kept hearing was how quiet it was without Ken! Someone dubbed me the Honorary Ken on the last day of my week - since I have never met you, I'm not quite sure if that's a good or bad honorarium!!! ;):P

--Bruce

Bruce,

They were teasing you. I am a quiet, reserved fellow who had the misfortune of being surrounded by trouble-makers.

Still, an honorarium with free Belgian beer at Heroes is something. You did get the free beer, didn’t you? Or did they make you pay? That would be about right!

Next year,

Ken

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Still, an honorarium with free Belgian beer at Heroes is something. You did get the free beer, didn’t you?

FREE BEER??!!! Uh.....no. They said it came with free advice, which I received oodles of. Perhaps I got the wrong honorarium? ...or perhaps a Heroe's gift certificate is in the mail...

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Ok y'all,

The dates are as follows:

Monday, June 4th - Friday, June 8th Violin Maker's session I with Michael Darnton and Lynn Armour Hannings bowmaker's session I

Sunday, June 10th - Thursday, June 14th Lynn Armour Hannings bowmaker's session II

Monday, June 11th - Friday, June 15th Violin Maker's session II with Michael Darnton

Monday, June 18th - Friday, June 22nd Violin Maker's session III with Michael Darnton AND Beginner's violin making session

NOTE: The addition of a one week session just for beginning makers

It was a great year. Thanks to all of you who participated and made it such a great experience. A little advice for those thinking about attending. Don't wait to long to sign up as we will be full by January.

Jim B.

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One of the things about violin-making is that you really don't need a lot of tools -- just the right ones, and I'm still working on that. But if you go to a workshop, and particularly if you have to fly, you suddenly find that even your minimal set takes up a lot of space. Worse, it has to go into checked baggage if you take it along, where it is almost certain to be searched, or you have to ship it a week or so in advance, and be without your tools right before you leave. Since I am motivated only by deadlines, shipping is always tough for me.

Every workshop handles these things somehow, but since Jim is adding a beginners session next year to this workshop, I thought I'd specify a few things. People are expected to bring their own tools, but a benefit of the workshop is seeing tools in person and in action. If you lack something, most people are good about letting you try (borrow) something of theirs, at least when they're not using it. My experience is that the workshop is a tremendous place to see and maybe use tools you didn't know about or had heard about but not seen. A great way to form that minimal, precise tool set.

The So. California workshop is (usually) held in the formal dining hall at Frank Hall on Pomona College. One year we had it in another nearby location. Being the formal dining room, the folks who run the place are nervous about dust, glue, shavings, sharp things, and so on. Here's a snapshot of this past year's layout.

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The formal dining room tables have been removed, and what you see folks working at are individual benches that bolt together. They're not heavy, nor big, but they do work quite well. Pertinent to another current thread, the lamps have both incandescent and fluorescent lights in them. Jim and his crew get these benches set-up before the workshop, and take them down afterwards. If you look towards the center left of the photo, you'll see one of the participants cleaning up with a shop vac. A frequent exercise -- we don't allow too much debris to build up. Just to the left of this fellow is the front bench. Here's another view of that.

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These are bigger, heavier benches where Michael Darnton has some of his tools about, and which also has a vise -- here being used for fingerboard shaping -- as well as a nice, simple sharpening station, the hand-crank set-up that Michael has written about elsewhere. There is also a glue pot up front as well as a bending iron.

The draped table behind the fellow at the vise is something Jim sets up every year, tools, books, etc. for purchase. There's not a huge selection, but if you found something you really like in someone else's tool box, and if it's on the table, you can buy it. Likewise, if you forgot something you need. My main use of the table has been to buy purfling because that seems to be the thing I'm most likely to forget. Supplies are limited, so it is good to notice that you've forgotten something early on.

I'm sure I've neglected some details, so maybe others will chime in. I think it would also be interesting to hear how other workshops handle the tool situation, either in this thread or in one of their own.

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One of the most valuable benefits of the workshop for me has definitely been that I feel less isolated for the rest of the year. Having forums for information exchange is wonderful. I’ve used them a lot and I value them as a resource. However forums are not the same as personal connections, as sitting around the breakfast table discussing some aspect of building, or as walking into town with friends for an ice-cream while discussing violin history. Whether you’re new to the group or have attended for years, the environment is supportive and our connections have crossed into the personal realm in the sense that we honestly care about each other, support, and encourage each other.

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