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We had the interesting experience a couple of years ago at my summer workshop (http://scvmw.com) of having both a Strad violin and the bench copy that a famous maker made of it. I was proud of my students that some of them were able to recognize the copy, which was excellent, by some consistent characteristics of Cremonese arching that were present in the original, but missing on the copy. If a famous violin maker can't get it with the original or a cast right in front of him, your chances of doing it just by your untrained eye and 25 points are bleak. In fact, I found it interesting that said famous household name, who supposedly made perfect copies and has for several decades, apparently didn't know what a Cremonese arch really was, himself.

 

Did you get it right?  :)

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Some people have a gift for 3D eidetic memory, the ability to recall an image or for after seeing for a short time. More people have than you would think. But having a study guide of some kind s always good.

 

Templates can be used or studied different ways and analysis of 3 dimensional objects is different for each person, some like me, find naming the kinds of curves to be totally useless, while others find it crucial. The most important thing is to find a good primary source for what it is you want to make, ideally the real thing. If that is not available parsing together an abstraction of the real form with templates and photos is like trying to copy a sculpture from photos, it's not ever going to work very well unless you can reference the real thing at least once. 

 

However I can see where not using templates has an advantage in that is teaches you to look for the form through a method, but which method or which tool path ands sequence? The templates can give you a hint so they are valuable, but they don't reveal the conceptual method or the way a Cremonese maker would ride through the arch and realize its characteristics. 

 

I think a kind of eidetic memory for specific forms can be developed. And I think it has something to do with a combination of working by eye and looking, but looking at the real thing and it does not have to be while you are working.  I would rather have a perfect cast than a set of templates. And then I would not try to measure or name curves, I would only look at the curves against straight lines. 

 

The other thing I have never heard mentioned is to draw the arch with a pencil. Drawing is one of if not the best way to internalize a form. Once you can draw a form can basically can't forget it.  If you can draw the long arch freehand you have it forever. I think also if you could trace the sections created from a template set on a paper tan then draw the curves several times for each station of template it would help visualize the way the arch should look. 

 

I can't say this is all true because I have not made enough arched instruments to back it up, but from the training as a sculptor; we did drawing exercises that made it easier to recognize and repeat forms, and I'm just throwing out some of the concepts and applying them to arching.  I here a lot of copy-copy-copy, to a sculptor that means draw-draw-draw. 

 

There are two really basic drawing exercises I could explain then show how to apply to drawing the arch that might help. If any one interested. But you have to the do the work you can't gloss over it. I kind of messed around with this last year, but would like to do more work with it. 

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There are two really basic drawing exercises I could explain then show how to apply to drawing the arch that might help. If any one interested. But you have to the do the work you can't gloss over it. I kind of messed around with this last year, but would like to do more work with it. 

 

More please.

 

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

 

I was at the Royal Academy in London when 5 GB Guads were showcased by Peter Sheppard Skaerved. The diversity of the archings was astounding.

 

So this raises a general question: If there is great diversity of the archings of classical Italian instruments that sound super, why should the minutiae of matching to templates be important?

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I never suffered the illusion that Cremonese violin arches are all different from each other, and violin experts for the most part recognize that a Cremonese arch does exist as a recognizable thing, regardless of how different they all seem to look to people who approach the problem casually and don't have any great amount of experience or exposure to the instruments.

 

Of course, people who won't do their homework don't learn the lessons, and I still notice how many in this discussion just don't think that learning about arches is worth making a few simple templates and making a couple of violins with them, so there's not really much help I can give, except to say that if you think you can do a curtate cycloid by eye, or you think that they can be simply explained and casually defined as swoopy curves you are very wrong, and you would do well to learn about the interesting things it does under different circumstances
.

I assume MM's question was rhetorical, but someday soon I hope to be able to tell an interesting story that is currently running that relates to this question of being able to tell Shinola from the other brown stuff.

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More please.

 

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

 

I was at the Royal Academy in London when 5 GB Guads were showcased by Peter Sheppard Skaerved. The diversity of the archings was astounding.

 

So this raises a general question: If there is great diversity of the archings of classical Italian instruments that sound super, why should the minutiae of matching to templates be important?

That's BS.  You must think like DG.

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So this raises a general question: If there is great diversity of the archings of classical Italian instruments that sound super, why should the minutiae of matching to templates be important?

You're mixing apples and oranges here. Guad's aren't Cremonese, nor are other classical Italian violins. Cremonese are Cremonese, and not all Cremonese are Strads. And not all Strads are equal. If you want to get to the bottom of things, you need to be selective about the pool you test, and the tests you apply, as I'm sure you already know. In the current case, I notice that in spite of how nice you might have thought those Guads sounded, there doesn't seem to be a run of players ditching their Strads for Guads.

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  Wow testy stuff! 

You know I'm not saying there is no use for templates, I'm saying, if my contribution are are given a close reading , that for me the way people study template seems like it could be added to.  Some exercises for drawing could help. 

 

What I'm suggesting is to draw the sections created by templates by tracing them from a template onto paper, and then drawing the tracings with a pencil by looking at them. In tht way yo internalize the kinds of shapes that Cremonese arcing have instead if just looking at them. When you draw something you process it differently that when you look at it. If look at something you can only learn so much of it, but if you actually draw it a few times carefully and you can learn to draw the arch section without referring to the template tracing. If you could work by drawing until you could do that, I speculate that it would be as valuable as carving a couple archings. 

 

See what happens is that people say: "Oh I can't draw."  But really every time they carve a top they are drawing. The same shift in perception that one makes when removing wood from a rough block with a gouge happens when you draw. Carving until you slip into that zone of perception and stay there takes a long time relative to drawing with a pencil because you have to overcome the physicality of the material. So carving is a less effective way of experiencing that zone, but for the people who say I can't draw, slowing down and carving tricks them into seeing that way you need to see when you draw. 

 

I'm just proposing that drawing from casts and templates in addition to using then in the more regular way might help some people visualize what Cremonese arching is. The problem is there is not set arching, but some visual parameters that are fond specifically in Cremona arches and not in other arches. I'm thinking about different ways of identifying them by drawing the templates.

 

People who don't already draw as part of a process of understanding how to internalize a form probably wont 'get it' until they actually see it happen. So you can make arching after arching by carving and looking at templates as a reference and you can draw them ahead for time to study the form. When sculptors work they don't carve 20 heads until they get it right, they study it section by section through drawing and then they get it good 3 dimensionally in less time. 

 

I'm suggesting that maybe there can be dome drawing techniques that could help develop memory for form. For me personally I can copy things without templates, but it's because I've practiced a lot and draw well.  

 

The particular names of types or classes of curves is fine too, but the names are really transliterations from one way of thinking to another and in the end are only abstactions. If you can wrap your head around that. Words don't mean anything concrete in the realm of forms. Words are only abstract ways f keeping records of certain kinds if forms so we can identify them together. Knowing that a kind of curve has a name does not mean you can make that kind of curve. Noses are not labeled with the terms of the kinds of curves that make up a nose, but you can still draw a nose and all its constituent curves without naming them. 

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Here is the one drawing students hate because they think they are above it and they laugh. Or that hate because they think it's impossible. But if you do it it sharpens the way you see. And you find out other things in the process. There's another one after this that is harder, but if try you this one and get something from I'll explain the next one. 

 

Take your best metal straight edge preferably one meter long. A meter is good. I assume everyone has fine straight edge. Get a 2b or 4b pencil, a gum eraser, and a sharper or exacto knife etc. to sharpen it. 

 

Go buy a piece of smooth paper or some shelf paper, something substantial, smooth- one meter long and shoulder width wide. ( why shelf paper works) Not a glossy texture but one that takes pencil easy. important

 

Find a smooth patch of wall or smooth vertical surface, tape the paper securely to the wall stretching it at top and bottom. Nice and taut. 

 

Stand up in front of the paper and draw a straight line right down the middle of the paper from top to bottom without measuring for the center. 

 

Next, take the straight edge and hold it up to the line you drew. Look for the parts of the line most out of straight and vertical. Pick one or two spots. Take the straight edge away. Put it down behind you or to the side where you can't see it. 

 

Take the pencil and redraw the areas you looked in reference to the straight edge. Use both the pencil and the eraser whenever you need them. 

 

Take some line off, add some. Until the spot you looked at is better. Don't try to fix the whole line or over work one spot, just fix it and move on. 

 

Take the straight edge and hold if up to your line again and find the places most out of straight. Fix them with the pencil and eraser and move on. 

 

Eventually allow the line to become thicker. As it becomes straighter, make it wider. And work the pencil lightly until the whole line is 5mm to 10mm wide the whole length. As the line becomes straighter and wider decide on a uniform width and keep it the whole length of the line. When the line is uniform thickness and getting straighter allow the line to become more dense with graphite by working the side of the pencil. Use the eraser to keep it straight. Keep using the straight edge as the reference. 

 

When you have a meter long line that is as straight and uniform as you think you can make it, stop. 

 

_________________________________________________

 

It takes most people about two hours. But you can break it up over days if you like. Time is not important as long as you work on it for 30 minutes blocks as least. 

 

 

You're laughing, I know. If you don't have much confidence in your drawing or seeing this will give you a lot of tools and confidence. If you think you are a hot shot, this one will kick your ass. It's got something for everyone. But you actually have to do it. The next one is harder, but you learn more. And the one after that is fun. 

 

If anyone tries it you really have to be honest with yourself and not cheat, otherwise you don't get much from it. Doing the second one in committed manner can change the way you see. It's a challenging problem, but anyone can do it. Not sure everyone will find it engaging, but if you do it can be extended on for weeks. 

 

Art school torture. 

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It's as if people think they will get some sort of horrible disease if they simply build a violin using templates, isn't it?  The lengths people will go to in order to avoid this simple task of touching a template directly to the wood you want to shape boggles my mind.

 

Maybe someone else can think of a way to make this task even more indirect and convoluted?

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It's as if people think they will get some sort of horrible disease if they simply build a violin using templates, isn't it?  The lengths people will go to in order to avoid this simple task of touching a template directly to the wood you want to shape boggles my mind.

 

Maybe someone else can think of a way to make this task even more indirect and convoluted?

 

To me what is indirect are people who don't draw. Drawing is the most direct way to study hand to eye understanding of form. 

 

 I never said you can't touch a template to a top or back you're working on did I? That would be kind of stupid. What I'm saying is that drawing helps to internalize  and better your understanding of forms faster than overcoming the material in a carving process. Drawing  never hurts your eye or your sense of gauging spacial relationships. Jeezeus.  I don't give a crap how any one does wants to do it, I was just adding an idea that maybe, possibly, by doing some drawings of the templates it might make things go even better. 

 

I mean if you want to put a Strad on my work bench that would be cool. But since I don't have any Strads just magically landing in my workbench I'm just thinking of ways to use the templates to get more out of them. 

________________________

 

The exercise for drawing a straight line is a separate thing from carving arching, you can take or leave it. If someone did the two following drawing projects they would get some thing from them. But it seems there a lot of resistance to new ideas. 

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I don't understand : if you don't match to templates what else is there to match to ?

I think it's a question of which templates one should use. My point is that once you have the templates, or once I have the templates, I mark and cut the wood at certain points and gradually work the wood down to those points. Since there are no "master templates" for sale to the general public, one has to use the available plans. Transferring from the drawings, which contain their own errors of measurement. Nobody, not Pollens, or anyone else,  can exactly measure a violin and make perfect drawings. Nobody. There is always measurement error. (Werner Heisenberg) Well, at least that is the current religious teaching of the college I attended.

 

As for apples and oranges, well, this is a public forum. Anyone can talk. That's the good thing about it. The mix of fruit and "nuts" is fun and sometimes very helpful.

 

I got a close-up look at a 1721 von Knoop Montagnana cello last evening. The back arch was quite different from the top arch, which seemed a little "puffy". Just a little. The sound of the cello, compared to the piano, was swallowed up by the carpet and acoustic tile ceiling. I would like to hear the same cello in a live room.

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How on earth can we give feedback, without being able to put our arching templates on it? ;):D

David,

 

Pics or video of your violin plates, in the white, being rotated in sunlight would help me a great deal. I will try to make my own video, which will be a challenge.

 

To add something more, when I recently had granite kitchen counter tops installed, the guy put markers out on the top of the mock counter. The he just took multiple pics of these markers. No worry about exactly where the camera was, in relation to the markers. He went away. Two weeks later, the granite was installed, and it fit perfectly (well, within Heisenberg limits of perfect).  If his same process were used to take pics of a violin from different angles, the surface information would be digitized and could be re-created.

 

You have Joe Curtin up where you are. I bet he could solve this problem. Or maybe Martin Schleske will do it one day.

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Just kidding, John.

I started out using just oblique light. This was partly because I hadn't made any templates, but mostly because most of my data base was in the form of visual memory of contours on actual instruments I had seen, instruments which were thought to be exceptional.

 

Somewhere later down the line, I made templates of some of my own archings which I thought had turned out well, and I find these really handy when I've been staring at something long enough that my eyes aren't fresh any more. I have some wiggle room with archings though, because it has never been my ambition to be a strict copyist.

 

I suppose one could say that most makers do the bulk of their arching work by eye, since I don't know of anyone who whips out the template after every plane stroke ;) , which would be necessary if some part of the process wasn't committed to memory. Commit more and more to memory, and the templates may eventually become little more than a convenient adjunct. 

 

Am I recommending working without templates? No, I'm not recommending one way or the other. I think different things can work for different people.

 

Regarding photos:

I don't happen to have any violins at that stage right now.

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As I understand the larger point, there's no way you can accurately do curtate cycloid cross arches by eye.  Whether one wants to do curtate cycloid arches is another matter...
 
And for anyone who is unfamiliar with these arches, here's an article from an old Strad in which Quentin Playfair (A Canadian, we're so very proud!) describes it well...

http://www.platetuning.org/Cremonesesarching_Part_1.pdf

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Violin 88 I get what you are thinking about, not sure of my contributions are valuable or not. I like to blab. 

 

Antonio Gaudi worked his towers much the same way you are working a 25 point system. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parametric_design

 

 

It's a good idea, and like David says, but is not exactly saying, everyone learns in different ways.  

post-69241-0-88138100-1423827549_thumb.jpg

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It's as if people think they will get some sort of horrible disease if they simply build a violin using templates, isn't it?  The lengths people will go to in order to avoid this simple task of touching a template directly to the wood you want to shape boggles my mind.

 

Maybe someone else can think of a way to make this task even more indirect and convoluted?

You have to remember there are lots of people here, most of them just reading.  I'm using the templates I made based on the Titian.  They are not axcact copies, more of what visually made sense to me imagining what the archings looked like fresh off the bench.  I'm sure my views will change as I learn.  Learning to learn is also a skill that needs to be practiced.  In following my templates I'm pretty amazed how the shape changes when I seem to be just slightly off from the templates to the arches following the templates "excactly".  Thanks for joining in.  Keep teaching, I'm listening.  I just tend to be quite if I don't think my words can contribute to the conversation.

 

Cheers,

Jim

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Here is the one drawing students hate because they think they are above it and they laugh. Or that hate because they think it's impossible. But if you do it it sharpens the way you see. And you find out other things in the process. There's another one after this that is harder, but if try you this one and get something from I'll explain the next one. 

 

Take your best metal straight edge preferably one meter long. A meter is good. I assume everyone has fine straight edge. Get a 2b or 4b pencil, a gum eraser, and a sharper or exacto knife etc. to sharpen it. 

 

Go buy a piece of smooth paper or some shelf paper, something substantial, smooth- one meter long and shoulder width wide. ( why shelf paper works) Not a glossy texture but one that takes pencil easy. important

 

Find a smooth patch of wall or smooth vertical surface, tape the paper securely to the wall stretching it at top and bottom. Nice and taut. 

 

Stand up in front of the paper and draw a straight line right down the middle of the paper from top to bottom without measuring for the center. 

 

Next, take the straight edge and hold it up to the line you drew. Look for the parts of the line most out of straight and vertical. Pick one or two spots. Take the straight edge away. Put it down behind you or to the side where you can't see it. 

 

Take the pencil and redraw the areas you looked in reference to the straight edge. Use both the pencil and the eraser whenever you need them. 

 

Take some line off, add some. Until the spot you looked at is better. Don't try to fix the whole line or over work one spot, just fix it and move on. 

 

Take the straight edge and hold if up to your line again and find the places most out of straight. Fix them with the pencil and eraser and move on. 

 

Eventually allow the line to become thicker. As it becomes straighter, make it wider. And work the pencil lightly until the whole line is 5mm to 10mm wide the whole length. As the line becomes straighter and wider decide on a uniform width and keep it the whole length of the line. When the line is uniform thickness and getting straighter allow the line to become more dense with graphite by working the side of the pencil. Use the eraser to keep it straight. Keep using the straight edge as the reference. 

 

When you have a meter long line that is as straight and uniform as you think you can make it, stop. 

 

_________________________________________________

 

It takes most people about two hours. But you can break it up over days if you like. Time is not important as long as you work on it for 30 minutes blocks as least. 

 

 

You're laughing, I know. If you don't have much confidence in your drawing or seeing this will give you a lot of tools and confidence. If you think you are a hot shot, this one will kick your ass. It's got something for everyone. But you actually have to do it. The next one is harder, but you learn more. And the one after that is fun. 

 

If anyone tries it you really have to be honest with yourself and not cheat, otherwise you don't get much from it. Doing the second one in committed manner can change the way you see. It's a challenging problem, but anyone can do it. Not sure everyone will find it engaging, but if you do it can be extended on for weeks. 

 

Art school torture. 

Hi teach!  I'm in for lesson #1.  I think it's a good concept.  I've always been good at drawing while looking at a picture.  Drawing from memory, my drawings looks like a kindergartner's work.  Maybe I have good eye hand coordination, but lousy memory.  I'll work on drawing a straight line this weekend.  Do I understand correctly that you slowly make a single vertical line 1 meter wide?

 

Thanks,

Jim

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Do I understand correctly that you slowly make a single vertical line 1 meter wide?

 

Jim

  Jim, Try it, tape a smooth piece of paper to a smooth wall and draw a line vertically three feet long or a meter.. which ever. Then 'proof' the pencil line, one pencil lead wide, with the straight edge. Look at it , then redraw the line. As I described. let me know how it goes! 

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