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GlennYorkPA

INVISIBLE REPAIRS

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While we're on repair ethics-Can I ask a sort of off-topic question?

What about quick&dirty repairs? Are those frowned upon? I had a student knock my viola off a table(8'x3', it was in the middle. I *thought* it was safe...I was mistaken). The neck broke, right where it joins the body. The luthier was very reluctant to do a fast repair that was visible. I didn't care, and begged for it to just be repaired as quickly as possible(end of the semester, had 2 juries, 4 concerts and a chamber recital within 7 days). In the end, he only reluctantly did a fast, visible repair because he didn't have a loaner of a similar size/stop length. Now I'm curious, was he likely reluctant from an ethics standpoint, or just from a reputation standpoint? edit: Or a 'I'd prefer not to do this on Saturday to give it back to you on Sunday, standpoint' is possible too. :P

(Keep in mind we're dealing with a $2000 viola here, nothing terribly special)

I think you raise a good point which is equally valid in this discussion about repair ethics.

When my dentist makes a crown for the visible part of my smile, he doesn't agonise over whether I will deceive people into thinking it is a real tooth. We discuss it and he does the best he can and, hopefully, that is an invisible replacement. It is up to me as the client to make the ethical decisions, not the service provider.

Incidentally, I notice there is a new book published on The Art of Bow Restoration (Joseph Regh, $500). In the review I read there is no mention of a chapter on the ethics of repair.

Glenn

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When my dentist makes a crown for the visible part of my smile, he doesn't agonise over whether I will deceive people into thinking it is a real tooth. We discuss it and he does the best he can and, hopefully, that is an invisible replacement. It is up to me as the client to make the ethical decisions, not the service provider.

Glenn, Don't you think think that ability (for you to make "an ethical decision", which I'd argue anyway; It sounds more like a cosmetic one) to decide is within a rather narrow parameter in this case? What he's/she's discussing with you is options.

What about quick&dirty repairs? Are those frowned upon? I had a student knock my viola off a table(8'x3', it was in the middle. I *thought* it was safe...I was mistaken). The neck broke, right where it joins the body. The luthier was very reluctant to do a fast repair that was visible. I didn't care, and begged for it to just be repaired as quickly as possible(end of the semester, had 2 juries, 4 concerts and a chamber recital within 7 days). In the end, he only reluctantly did a fast, visible repair because he didn't have a loaner of a similar size/stop length. Now I'm curious, was he likely reluctant from an ethics standpoint, or just from a reputation standpoint? edit: Or a 'I'd prefer not to do this on Saturday to give it back to you on Sunday, standpoint' is possible too.

I simply don't know what was in the repair person's head. I have (and I imagine I'm not at all alone), on occasion, put into use temporary remedies to get a player through a concert or recording session... but in each case a few things are true.

1) What I did would not effect the ability to do the job correctly right later on.

2) There was a plan to get the job correct done later on.

3) I was reasonably sure that the player would not have difficulty with the remedy for the service time required.

What I'm talking about might be as simple as placing a clear plastic barrier over a rib crack to keep it clean, fishing in a temporary cleat on a top crack and tack gluing it from the outside, or similar temporary remedies.

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Glenn, Don't you think think that ability (for you to make "an ethical decision", which I'd argue anyway; It sounds more like a cosmetic one) to decide is within a rather narrow parameter in this case? What he's/she's discussing with you is options.

Jeffrey, Maybe our talk of ethics has scared other posters away but it isn't an academic argument. This month's Strad carries an article on the increasing need for (and availability of) courses on restoration and the teaching of it as a 'stand alone' discipline. There is no question that we are seeing greater ingenuity in the developments of techniques to correct the ravages of time on violins and bows. I'm especially interested in references to the treatment of wormholes and worn edgework as described in another thread. I would appreciate being the beneficiary of these skills but I can tell you from practical experience that they are not easy to access.

Let's take the case of the replacement of edges. In another thread, a method has been described which involves the removal of all wood uo to the purfling. It seems the purpose is to disguise the visible line around the edges which would result from the usual doubling procedure. I applaud this procedure and the more difficult it is to spot, the more I want it and I don't expect to be told the new edge must be painted red to prove it is not original.

I think what we are dealing with is a certain amount of hubris on the part or restorers who believe their work can ever be truly invisible. The more valuable the item, the more closely it will be subjected to scrutiny and the restoration work discovered.

Glenn

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...In another thread, a method has been described which involves the removal of all wood uo to the purfling. It seems the purpose is to disguise the visible line around the edges which would result from the usual doubling procedure. I applaud this procedure and the more difficult it is to spot, the more I want it and I don't expect to be told the new edge must be painted red to prove it is not original....

I'm not sure what your point is here, but the new edge resulting from this procedure can be easily detected with a light and a mirror.

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If I have something to repair I would hope it will be functional first, invisibility second. The goal is

to get both. Why we sacrifice anything if not necessary.

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Jeffrey, Maybe our talk of ethics has scared other posters away but it isn't an academic argument. This month's Strad carries an article on the increasing need for (and availability of) courses on restoration and the teaching of it as a 'stand alone' discipline.There is no question that we are seeing greater ingenuity in the developments of techniques to correct the ravages of time on violins and bows. I'm especially interested in references to the treatment of wormholes and worn edgework as described in another thread. I would appreciate being the beneficiary of these skills but I can tell you from practical experience that they are not easy to access.

Glenn; David Burgess and I administrate one of the workshops that presents restoration as a "stand alone" discipline. Ethics is always discussed at these workshops. So are "cutting edge" techniques. I also serve on the board of the Chicago School and have been working with that board to create a separate continuing program for restoration for a number of years. I'm glad the Strad is reporting there is a perception of need.

My point here is that for me personally, it is far from simply an "academic argument".

Let's take the case of the replacement of edges. In another thread, a method has been described which involves the removal of all wood uo to the purfling. It seems the purpose is to disguise the visible line around the edges which would result from the usual doubling procedure. I applaud this procedure and the more difficult it is to spot, the more I want it and I don't expect to be told the new edge must be painted red to prove it is not original.

Glenn, I'm pleased your invested in discussing this topic, but I think you may have missed the point. The ethical question here is, is the removal of the original wood at the edge actually required for the stability and continued use of the instrument, or not. Any hubris involved here might well be in choosing to perform a more invasive job when it's not necessary. Please note that Christian, David and I all responded to that particular issue in a similar way on that thread.

I think what we are dealing with is a certain amount of hubris on the part or restorers who believe their work can ever be truly invisible. The more valuable the item, the more closely it will be subjected to scrutiny and the restoration work discovered.

Glenn, I think you'll notice that in all, or at least almost all, of the instances in which I've used the words "invisible repairs" (your words), I've done so with quotation marks. Instead, I've elected to use words like "difficult to detect". In terms of that word "hubris", I honestly don't often recognize that particular trait in many of the restorers I feel are "top flight" (to quote David). While they may each have their own approaches, I find them very willing to discuss their experiences with each other. On this board, in fact, they also seem willing to discuss the subject in the open with others who may, or may not, have significant experience.

In terms of your own situation (which, since I haven't seen the bow, I am making assumptions), I likened a spline to a visible patch, and explained that previous poor repair sometimes requires very invasive procedures to reverse the damage. The ethics in your case (if an attempt were made to make the repair difficult to detect), might pertain to an L shaped edge being installed when not required and a soundpost crack glued but not reinforced on an instrument.

So my voice isn't one of the only drones, I'm attaching the following quote, which I have used in my own articles and placed on the chalkboard at the restoration workshop:

John Sinclair Willis wrote, in his paper "Considerations for the Ethical Conservation of Historic Musical Instruments", that "No historical object should be restored to a state of functional operation unless there is a reasonable prospect that the result will meet with the minimum standard of its original maker, or of a competent historical user, and that it will be properly maintained thereafter."

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When my dentist makes a crown for the visible part of my smile, he doesn't agonise over whether I will deceive people into thinking it is a real tooth. We discuss it and he does the best he can and, hopefully, that is an invisible replacement.

It's far from "invisible" to a dentist.

As far as your tooth deceiving the average person, you probably won't come up for sale anytime soon. ;) Isn't deception of a purchaser one of the issues?

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It's far from "invisible" to a dentist.

As far as your tooth deceiving the average person, you probably won't come up for sale anytime soon. ;) Isn't deception of a purchaser one of the issues?

David,

The deception of a purchaser is the core of the issue.

But in the transaction between me and the restorer, there is no deception.

It is no concern of the restorer what happens after that.

Caveat emptor prevails as it has since the beginning of time and that's not going to change.

Glenn

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It is no concern of the restorer what happens after that.

I'm curious how you came to that conclusion.

Many restorers feel that they have responsibilities beyond the immediate transaction. In fact, many of the authors in the recent "Conservation, Restoration and Repair" book put heavy emphasis on this.

What do you think? Are these people just misguided?

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I'm curious how you came to that conclusion.

Many restorers feel that they have responsibilities beyond the immediate transaction. In fact, many of the authors in the recent "Conservation, Restoration and Repair" book put heavy emphasis on this.

What do you think? Are these people just misguided?

I came to that conclusion by asking myself why would I do less than the best for a beautiful instrument?

Jeffrey wants to put the word 'invisible' in quotation marks and I'm OK with that on the grounds that, at some level, all restoration work is detectable.

The purpose of starting this thread was to ask who qualifies for the top level of repair that requires a magnifying glass or some such to be detectable?

The reason is because I am still smarting from having a finger wagged at me as though I were a naughty boy wanting to resell my bow at a profit having benefitted from an 'invisible' repair.

So I find myself in a curious situation - on the one hand applauding and encouraging the development of restoration techniques while feeling that the better it gets, the less I will benefit because the restorers will not deem me, a humble collector, a suitable beneficiary.

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When my dentist makes a crown for the visible part of my smile, he doesn't agonise over whether I will deceive people into thinking it is a real tooth. We discuss it and he does the best he can and, hopefully, that is an invisible replacement. It is up to me as the client to make the ethical decisions, not the service provider....

Glenn

It's far from "invisible" to a dentist.

As far as your tooth deceiving the average person, you probably won't come up for sale anytime soon. ;) Isn't deception of a purchaser one of the issues?

David,

The deception of a purchaser is the core of the issue.

But in the transaction between me and the restorer, there is no deception.

It is no concern of the restorer what happens after that.

Caveat emptor prevails as it has since the beginning of time and that's not going to change.

Glenn

Hey Glenn,

I think it's "cavity emptor" in this case! :blink:

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So I find myself in a curious situation - on the one hand applauding and encouraging the development of restoration techniques while feeling that the better it gets, the less I will benefit because the restorers will not deem me, a humble collector, a suitable beneficiary.

I'm still not sure how you came to the conclusion that you were singled out.

Over time, splining has shown itself to be one of the most reliable ways of reinforcing a broken head. Because the spline can't be inserted at the same angle as the original wood in order to have maximum strength, it inherently is not the most invisible repair. Without seeing the repair, and seeing what the repair person had to start with (some kind of previous failed repair), I'm not in a position to comment on whether it could have been made less visible.

I suspect you're right though, that standards are a little different for bows than for violins. Maybe that's because of different levels of risk to a potential buyer. A bow discovered to have an un-noticed repair can be horribly devalued, compared to a violin with an un-noticed repair. Wear is viewed differently too.... you rarely see bowmakers making antiqued bows. Perhaps these differences will change as the supply of "mint" antique bows dries up. Right now, they seem plentiful, compared to "mint" antique violins.

Just some musings.

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Jeffrey,

Kudos on your larger work on restoration. I might comment (favorably) on that later but many issues have been raised here and I'll just deal with a couple of them.

My interest in restoration vs conservation is not new. It began many years ago wandering through the ruins of Knossos and getting caught up in the controversy surrounding Sir Arthur Evans’s partial reconstruction of it. Some would have preferred that he left the heaps of crumbling stone alone but those of us with less vivid imaginations appreciate the rebuilding of the rooms and retouching of the murals.

Over the years, I, too, have done more than a little restoration work on antique furniture. Being unable to afford pristine early pieces, it was a rewarding hobby to rescue chests and tables with damaged veneers and chairs with broken legs and give them new life and respect. Through this work, I developed a deep respect for the skilled restorer and sympathised with the view that it is often easier to build the new rather than restore the old. The skill sets of patience, color matching and ingenuity are different.

I can truly say that the limitations of my skills and techniques rarely resulted in ‘invisibility’ but when I was able to restore a blistered veneer to its original, flat condition, I did so without any feeling of guilt.

Is the restoration of musical instruments any different from the restoration of anything else? I suggest not. Reputable antique dealers have an obligation to point out any restoration to their clients but I have never come across instances of their repair guys refusing to do the jobs or putting less than their best work into it.

--------------------------------

John Sinclair Willis wrote, in his paper "Considerations for the Ethical Conservation of Historic Musical Instruments", that "No historical object should be restored to a state of functional operation unless there is a reasonable prospect that the result will meet with the minimum standard of its original maker, or of a competent historical user, and that it will be properly maintained thereafter."

----------------------------

Agreed. But the title refers to conservation and the quote refers to restoration. The quote leaves open the possibility for tonal regraduation on the grounds that the restorer believes he can exceed the original maker’s expectations. This practice is common amongst violin restorers in China today and I can’t accept it.

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Jeffrey,

Kudos on your larger work on restoration. I might comment (favorably) on that later but many issues have been raised here and I'll just deal with a couple of them.

My interest in restoration vs conservation is not new. It began many years ago wandering through the ruins of Knossos and getting caught up in the controversy surrounding Sir Arthur Evans's partial reconstruction of it. Some would have preferred that he left the heaps of crumbling stone alone but those of us with less vivid imaginations appreciate the rebuilding of the rooms and retouching of the murals.

Over the years, I, too, have done more than a little restoration work on antique furniture. Being unable to afford pristine early pieces, it was a rewarding hobby to rescue chests and tables with damaged veneers and chairs with broken legs and give them new life and respect. Through this work, I developed a deep respect for the skilled restorer and sympathised with the view that it is often easier to build the new rather than restore the old. The skill sets of patience, color matching and ingenuity are different.

I can truly say that the limitations of my skills and techniques rarely resulted in 'invisibility' but when I was able to restore a blistered veneer to its original, flat condition, I did so without any feeling of guilt.

Is the restoration of musical instruments any different from the restoration of anything else? I suggest not. Reputable antique dealers have an obligation to point out any restoration to their clients but I have never come across instances of their repair guys refusing to do the jobs or putting less than their best work into it.

Glenn; With all do respect, I'd like you to go back and re-read what I've posted. I don't think you'll find that I've excused restorers or dealers from disclosure... and I stated clearly that I felt that a good restoration should be cosmetically and structurally successful (within reason; a possible limit being not-required removal of original material to hide a previous screw-up or minor cometic issues)... and that the piece should be able to stand up to expected and designed use. I mentioned the caveat of difficult to detect repairs in relation to unethical behavior (someone trying to disguise the damage in order to profit) and in terms of use (a difficult to detect repair to a head without a spline or some other reinforcement won't last when the bow is used).

If a top flight furniture restorer is more willing to attack the details of an original piece than a violin restorer, it's not something I'm aware of.

--------------------------------

John Sinclair Willis wrote, in his paper "Considerations for the Ethical Conservation of Historic Musical Instruments", that "No historical object should be restored to a state of functional operation unless there is a reasonable prospect that the result will meet with the minimum standard of its original maker, or of a competent historical user, and that it will be properly maintained thereafter."

----------------------------

Agreed. But the title refers to conservation and the quote refers to restoration. The quote leaves open the possibility for tonal regraduation on the grounds that the restorer believes he can exceed the original maker's expectations. This practice is common amongst violin restorers in China today and I can't accept it.

Again, please do me the courtesy of not taking what I offer out of context. The quote was offered in terms of structural decisions, procedures and general approach. The exact subject we've been discussing following text dealing with that subject. I think with a moment of consideration you'd agree that a single quote on any particular subject is difficult to apply to global ethical concerns. Regraduation may be a subject worthy of discussion, but honestly the link to this present thread is tenuous at best. It is my feeling that this sort of response dilutes the discussion by spreading the subject too wide for a working fellow like me to set enough time aside to offer a meaningful response.

As I haven't been involved with your interactions with instrument & bow restorers, I continue to be a little confused on what is actually bothering you. There is certainly an issue that continues to be mentioned. You suggest you don't have access to the type of work you desire, but I'm unsure if it's an issue of expense, the quality of the pieces in question, the personalities involved, the stability of the repair, or all of the above. Can you please clarify? Are you just frustrated and venting?

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I'm still not sure how you came to the conclusion that you were singled out.

Over time, splining has shown itself to be one of the most reliable ways of reinforcing a broken head. Because the spline can't be inserted at the same angle as the original wood in order to have maximum strength, it inherently is not the most invisible repair. Without seeing the repair, and seeing what the repair person had to start with (some kind of previous failed repair), I'm not in a position to comment on whether it could have been made less visible.

I suspect you're right though, that standards are a little different for bows than for violins. Maybe that's because of different levels of risk to a potential buyer. A bow discovered to have an un-noticed repair can be horribly devalued, compared to a violin with an un-noticed repair. Wear is viewed differently too.... you rarely see bowmakers making antiqued bows. Perhaps these differences will change as the supply of "mint" antique bows dries up. Right now, they seem plentiful, compared to "mint" antique violins.

Just some musings.

David,

I don't think I have been singled out. :) I'm just using my particular experience with a bow as representative of the experience of several friends who are also modest collectors compared with museums or collectors on the grand scale like David Fulton.

I think we are agreeing on the position that Jeffrey took early in this thread that indeed the situation is different between bows and violins. I have had very satisfactory restoration on violins that were truly undetectable unless the repair was pointed out. (And I should add that I delight in pointing them out as a way of extolling the restorer's craft).

I'm enjoying the debate on the general topic of restoration but my particular experience is related to the installation of an 'invisible' spline.

I was told that the restorer in question would not render the spline less apparent so I declined it. This was subsequently interpreted as me refusing to pay for a spline - a laughable accusation as cost is never an issue for me and I frequently add a little to the invoice believing that good restorers don't charge enough.

So all we become clear when I finally have the repair I really want and will post pictures.

I love your point about antiqued bows. However, I have been supplied with an occasional antiqued frog or adjuster to meld sympathetically with an antique stick.

Glenn

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I've been trying to help, but at this point, I'm unsure of how best to do so.

Let me know?

I'll agree that David Fulton may have more pull than you and me combined. At the same time, I admire restorers who will stick to their sense of professional ethics.

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As I haven't been involved with your interactions with instrument & bow restorers, I continue to be a little confused on what is actually bothering you. There is certainly an issue that continues to be mentioned. You suggest you don't have access to the type of work you desire, but I'm unsure if it's an issue of expense, the quality of the pieces in question, the personalities involved, the stability of the repair, or all of the above. Can you please clarify? Are you just frustrated and venting?

-----------------------------Jeffrey,

You seem puzzled and unclear about my purpose in prolonging this thread when I’m more accustomed to lurking than contributing so here goes one more time.

I live in the USA and so, if so inclined, I could go out and legally purchase any weapon from a simple pistol to a multiple loading assault rifle with no questions asked. But I hire one of your associates to make an ‘invisible’ repair to the head of a quality bow and I am am treated to a lecture on why this is ethically impossible. What is wrong with this picture?

The situation is ongoing so I don’t intend to show pictures or name names until I get the result my bow deserves so I thought this would be a good opportunity to broaden the topic to ‘hard to detect’ repairs in general.

My experience leads me to believe there is a code of conduct for restorers of stringed instruments but what is unclear is whether this is written down and generally accepted or whether each practitioner derives their own code. Either way, I’m interested in:

what the code is and

how it was derived.

Lest you feel discomfort by my interest, I should mention that:

I studied moral philosophy at the ancient University of St Andrews in Scotland and therefore have a healthy appetite for such esoteric subjects as philosophy, ethics and metaphysics and:

the emails I am receiving indicate a wider interest in the practical topic of violin and bow restoration than might be deduced from the number of posts.

So, returning to the code of conduct that apparently restrains a restorer from carrying out work that might be considered ‘deceptive’, I question whether this was arrived at by the practitioners themselves or by a wider committee? Since the instruments cannot speak for themselves, I would expect the contributors to include instrument owners (as interested parties) and even professional ethicists who have no dog in the race.

I would even offer my own services but should come clean and admit that my Scottish roots cause me to lean towards pragmatism. I have an understanding of, but little sympathy for quasi teleological arguments based supposed intentions. I this situation, I prefer a utilitarian transparency along the lines of ‘I can do nothing to make an ugly spline unnoticeable so I will deliver a sermon on why you should be satisfied with what I choose to do for you’.

Glenn

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I would venture to suggest that invisible repairs to broken bow heads are ethically wrong because they don't tend to work. An effective repair which restores the bow to full reliable functionality will generally be visible to all but the most myopic.

Perhaps your restorer didn't want to do a repair which wouldn't necessarily hold, or which would look like the sort of bodge that people carry out to get damaged bows through auctions ....

But without knowing the exact nature of the defect it's quite impossible to discuss the ethics, with or without a degree from St Andrews!

I don't see how posting photos of the damage would compromise anything or anyone, and it would give some very expert restorers the opportunity to express opinions on practice and ethics without lecturing you.

It sounds to me like you and your restorer rubbed each other up the wrong way, and probably very little truth was exchanged as a result. I'm not implying fault, it just happens ......

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[/i]

-----------------------------Jeffrey,

You seem puzzled and unclear about my purpose in prolonging this thread when I'm more accustomed to lurking than contributing so here goes one more time.

I live in the USA and so, if so inclined, I could go out and legally purchase any weapon from a simple pistol to a multiple loading assault rifle with no questions asked. But I hire one of your associates to make an 'invisible' repair to the head of a quality bow and I am am treated to a lecture on why this is ethically impossible. What is wrong with this picture?

Glenn;

I'm pleased that you're contributing and welcome the chance to discuss the subject... there are issues here worthy of discussion... and I mentioned this earlier in the thread. Since I have a very limited time each day to contribute and moderate the board, the fact that I've elected to spend a majority of that time the last few days within this thread should be telling.

While expansion of the topic may be of interest to many here, there is a point at which I cannot afford the time/energy to follow as intently as I have so far. Not that I don't think a discussion of ethics is important, just that I have clients waiting for me to finish up work I've committed to.

Pertaining to the issue at hand: We have only the description of damage and your description of the interaction with the restorer in which to offer possible explanations. I have tried to provide a viewpoint based on what the limited information provided. So have others here. Since I was not party to the actual discussion and have not seen the piece in person, I do expect some margin of error. I also would expect the restorer's description of the event to vary from your own (this is not an insult).

My impression is that you are painting the industry with a rather wide brush, suggesting that you don't have access to what you want, have not had access in the past and won't in the future. However, one interaction with one restorer concerning one bow is what we're hearing about. Not enough to allow me to follow you I'm afraid... and I do find that when a person is frustrated with a situation, it tends to cast a pallor over a wider landscape than may be deserved.

Therefore, I asked for clarification on a reoccurring theme in this thread. My question was: "You suggest you don't have access to the type of work you desire, but I'm unsure if it's an issue of expense, the quality of the pieces in question, the personalities involved, the stability of the repair, or all of the above. Can you please clarify? Are you just frustrated and venting?"

So, will you please answer the question?

BTW; I'm not a NRA member.

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So, returning to the code of conduct that apparently restrains a restorer from carrying out work that might be considered ‘deceptive’, I question whether this was arrived at by the practitioners themselves or by a wider committee?

It's usually arrived at by the practitioner themself, but typically has a foundation of lengthy exchanges with colleagues and peers.

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Glenn;

Therefore, I asked for clarification on a reoccurring theme in this thread. My question was: "You suggest you don't have access to the type of work you desire, but I'm unsure if it's an issue of expense, the quality of the pieces in question, the personalities involved, the stability of the repair, or all of the above. Can you please clarify? Are you just frustrated and venting?"

So, will you please answer the question?

BTW; I'm not a NRA member.

Jeffrey,

Owning and running a business that is not even related to violins takes my time also which is why I appreciate the length and thoughtfulness in your responses and the delay in mine.

So, in response to the specific questions that interest you:

Q. 'Issue of expense'

A Absolutely not. I am besotted with my violin, bow and case collection and am in the fortunate position of being able to pay what ever is needed to pass them on in a better condition from that in which I found them.

Q. 'The quality of the pieces in question'

A. That's somewhat subjective. If we restrict ourselves to the piece in question, would you consider an early Hill fleur de lys with TS frog a quality piece? All I know is that it has interest and value to me.

Q. 'The personalities involved" -

A. The person I was testing out with a first commission has a very nice personality indeed.

Q. 'The stability of the repair'

A. This goes to the heart of the matter and I will address it later. Definitely a factor since I am left with a bow that doesn't work but it was really the cosmetic appearance that was most objectionable.

Q.'Am I frustrated and venting'

A. You betcha! :D

Jeffrey - you seem to be pushing me to post pictures and name names. Would that be ethical?

I prefer not to but to use this case as illustrative of a history of unsatisfactory service going back decades.

The less talented restorers don't provide the service I'm looking for.

The top restorers have very long turnaround times and can pick and choose what they work on but this is first time I have been given unsatisfactory results based on an ethical argument. I felt it worthy of comment.

Glenn

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Thank you Glenn!

Q. 'Issue of expense'

A Absolutely not. I am besotted with my violin, bow and case collection and am in the fortunate position of being able to pay what ever is needed to pass them on in a better condition from that in which I found them.

OK. So that's out of the way.

Q. 'The quality of the pieces in question'

A. That's somewhat subjective. If we restrict ourselves to the piece in question, would you consider an early Hill fleur de lys with TS frog a quality piece? All I know is that it has interest and value to me.

Yes. This is subjective. With the damage you described, there is naturally a cost/benefit balance to be considered. I believe this is a decision that is "shared" between you and a restorer... and from each side it would have to be agreed as a "go" or "no go".

Q. 'The personalities involved" -

A. The person I was testing out with a first commission has a very nice personality indeed.

That's good to hear... but it does sound as though there was either some miscommunication, a standoff occurred, or both.

Q. 'The stability of the repair'

A. This goes to the heart of the matter and I will address it later. Definitely a factor since I am left with a bow that doesn't work but it was really the cosmetic appearance that was most objectionable.

This one is tricky. I can only go by what you've described as the previous damage... but it sounds like the old (original) repair to the bow may have severely compromised it cosmetically. Is that correct? If so (and I'm taking a leap), bringing it "back" might involve removal of original material (replacement of some of the wood)? Is this something that came up? Were you or the restorer unwilling to go in that direction? One difficulty I'm having here is that I can't imagine any good restorer delivering a bow that will not stay together unless there was some compelling discussion about that particular issue.

Q.'Am I frustrated and venting'

A. You betcha! :D

Thanks for being straight forward abut that. Honestly, I think it's getting in the way of the discussion. Easier for me, anyway, if a specific issue has some focus and I don't feel we're all being labeled heartless condescending bastards. :)

Jeffrey - you seem to be pushing me to post pictures and name names. Would that be ethical?

I prefer not to but to use this case as illustrative of a history of unsatisfactory service going back decades.

The less talented restorers don't provide the service I'm looking for.

The top restorers have very long turnaround times and can pick and choose what they work on but this is first time I have been given unsatisfactory results based on an ethical argument. I felt it worthy of comment.

No. Sorry to give you that impression. I would rather you did not name names.

The rest of the paragraph:

I'm sorry you have a difficult history with restoration.

Yes, well respected restorers do have a lengthy turnaround time. For larger (full boat) jobs, I've kept clients waiting for as many as 3 years. Though I do make every effort to make the possible time frame clear, I know it's a stretch for some owners and that inevitable delays are frustrating. Happily, so far, the clients have seemed to think it was worth the wait in the end.

Yes. Many good restorers are in a position to pick and choose the jobs we take on. The considerations are not always monetary or value oriented, and sometimes they are... but I don't want to go too deeply in this direction at this point.

Cheers!

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I would venture to suggest that invisible repairs to broken bow heads are ethically wrong because they don't tend to work. An effective repair which restores the bow to full reliable functionality will generally be visible to all but the most myopic.

Perhaps your restorer didn't want to do a repair which wouldn't necessarily hold, or which would look like the sort of bodge that people carry out to get damaged bows through auctions ....

But without knowing the exact nature of the defect it's quite impossible to discuss the ethics, with or without a degree from St Andrews!

I don't see how posting photos of the damage would compromise anything or anyone, and it would give some very expert restorers the opportunity to express opinions on practice and ethics without lecturing you.

It sounds to me like you and your restorer rubbed each other up the wrong way, and probably very little truth was exchanged as a result. I'm not implying fault, it just happens ......

Martin,

Thanks for this good post.

You have made me see this isn't a question of ethics at all; it was just dressed up as ethics.

My expectations ran like this -

Adhesives are now available which produce a bond stronger than the wood being glued.

New wood can be inserted by those skilled in the art to disguise glue joins.

Touch up techniques can simulate old wood and varnish therefore hey presto, it must be possible to restore a broken bow and make it as good as new.

The consensus here seems to be that repair materials and techniques cannot deliver this level of restoration with bows and the repair will either be ugly and apparent (visible spline and glue joins) or weak and unreliable.

This argument I could have accepted but to tell me the kind of repair I want IS possible but is denied on 'ethical' grounds is disingenuous.

Rather than have my bow subjected to a circular saw and an ugly (and visible) spline inserted, I will leave it in a drawer for a year or three until restoration techniques catch up.

Glenn

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I've been trying to help, but at this point, I'm unsure of how best to do so.

Let me know?

I'll agree that David Fulton may have more pull than you and me combined. At the same time, I admire restorers who will stick to their sense of professional ethics.

David,

I truly appreciate your concise comments and will certainly let you know how this situation develops.

In fact, this bow repair is just a test case before embarking on a tricky violin repair.

Damaged bows are a side show for me though it has been instructive to see what can be done to restore worm damaged tortoiseshell. I thought those critters confined themselves to horsehair.

Glenn

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