Sign in to follow this  
l33tplaya

Making Hay...or Violins:Best Place to Start - UNH, Pomona, Oberlin, etc...

Recommended Posts

I only have a little vacation, 1-2 weeks.  What does anyone here think of relative advantages of UNH, Pomona, Oberlin (if it's even open to outsiders)?  A week at each to start?  I live in SoCal, but have family in NH, so both look good...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

m darton does a class in california I believe also something to consider/

every class that I have taken has been very informative and I met a lot of great people , overall a very enjoyable experience! I don't think you will go wrong which ever you choose.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Darnton workshop is the Pomona College workshop.   You can find information at www.scvmw.com .   All the workshops are a great experience.  The main thing is to get in there and start building and don't get distracted.  The amount of information and technique you get from these workshops is mindboggling.

 

Jim Brown,  Facilitator

Southern California Violin and Bow Maker's Workshop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never been to Pomona but spent part of three summers in Durham.  If this is your first immersion in formal instruction, go for the weather and amenities.  Best part of Durham the locale is that Portland ME is just a short train ride away.  Unless of course you are close to your family there, in which case Portland comes in second.  My time at UNH was in the era prior to Horst Kloss taking the helm, but it looks like they are doing some new things that definitely would interest me if we were turning back the clock.  Now that I re-read this, it's pretty clear that the value of my counsel is limited. (I have been hearing that from the younger generation for some time now so I am not surprised.)  I guess it's better than suggesting a coin toss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're looking for making workshops, yes?  I believe the Oberlin violin making workshop is to capacity for this coming summer.  Oberlin also offers bow making, acoustics and restoration (bow and instrument) workshops.  I'm not sure if there is space in acoustics.  I believe there may end up being a spot or two in restoration due to two participants that may need to drop this year (personal reasons), but so far we're waiting to hear...

 

I've heard very nice things about Michael's program in CA.

 

New Hampshire offers subject based workshops.  I know a bit about the repair courses, but very little about the making workshops there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One recent UNH participant humorously related his experience with the course to me, where he was I guess forced to make blocks square on all sides prior to fitting, and they didn't even get that far as to fit them. It is expensive and not very hands-on according to him. He came home with a mold and loose cubes/blocks. Not that shooting the breeze and lectures aren't important. There was a lot of that though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Went to the Pomona classes for a number of years, really worth the money, and the people there are so welcoming, and share lots of info. You get a one on one with Michael Darnton every week, and the subject is of your choosing. We'd still be going to the Pomona classes if we hadn't moved across the pond. Also usually bow people there at the same time, in a different classroom. Lots of music is played, so if you play be sure to take an instrument with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of us are a bit beyond making a form and squaring blocks. I use a well-adjusted bandsaw for cutting square blocks, and cannot fathom doing it differently.

 

I would like to attend a "clinic" where I bring a couple of violins. One is complete, ready for adjusting the setup. The other is either in the white with a removable top for inspection, alterations, and critique of the components. Furthermore, I would bring a nearly completed scroll, a garland, ... you name it.  It is difficult flying across the country with all the tools I need for making. 

 

I would also like to attend a tuning workshop in which the top is re-graduated to adjust the tone. Adjusting/recutting a bridge could be included. I am learning these things on my own which is very difficult.

 

Another comment is that some of the mentioned workshops are over-subscribed and essentially closed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael's workshop at Pomona still has some open slots but you need to contact Michael or me to discuss your skill level before you decide.    Same thing for George's frog making sessions.   Still open but we must assess skills before signing up.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of us are a bit beyond making a form and squaring blocks. I use a well-adjusted bandsaw for cutting square blocks, and cannot fathom doing it differently.

 

I would like to attend a "clinic" where I bring a couple of violins. One is complete, ready for adjusting the setup. The other is either in the white with a removable top for inspection, alterations, and critique of the components. Furthermore, I would bring a nearly completed scroll, a garland, ... you name it.  It is difficult flying across the country with all the tools I need for making. 

 

I would also like to attend a tuning workshop in which the top is re-graduated to adjust the tone. Adjusting/recutting a bridge could be included. I am learning these things on my own which is very difficult.

 

Another comment is that some of the mentioned workshops are over-subscribed and essentially closed.

 

No doubt.  He was beyond that too but that's what they were doing (by hand!) so...that's what he did.  He saw no point in complaining I guess.  He was actually sent there on the dime of a violin shop, whose proprietor I guess remembered what UNH used to be like and assumed it was the same, and he was trying to train the guy up to speed fast.  Uh...no.  Great option for a beginner, maybe, because I think there are some great lectures, but even I would be mad if I went somewhere and that's all I did in 2 weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For someone living in So. Cal., the Darnton workshop makes sense.  You don't have to hassle about flying with tools and wood, for one.  But you do need to be somewhere above a total novice, with tools and some pieces to work on.  I brought a scroll to carve and a plate to arch and graduate, and ran out of things to work on.  It's amazing what you can do when you have 12+ hours a day of uninterrupted work... except for eating.

 

Even before that (especially if you are a rank beginner), it would be worthwhile to attend a SCAVM meeting and talk to some other local makers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jmo, but if you're really beginning, and seeing if this is something you might really want to do for awhile, why not spend the two weeks sweeping the floor of the shop of a maker you admire and selling strings and stuff? In exchange they might work with you for an hour a day one on one. Or maybe you could just spend the time in the shop and ask a question here and there (if you kind of have an idea what you need to do, which you might since you're on here a lot). You might have to ask twenty makers before someone said yes, but who cares. I think that makes much more sense than spending three thousand dollars on a workshop that may not be suited to your level or pace anyway. I recommend John Pringle because he's such a super nice guy, he makes baroque instruments of many types as well as classical violin models, and he's completely awesome at it. There are potentially dozens of makers who would say yes, so if I were you I would find one.

I think that is probably the only way to get started, otherwise you end up like the guy who made a mold and some wooden cubes in two weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You've never once mentioned your skill level and it does make a difference on what is required and how much you will gain.  You live in So. Cal.,  My shop is here, stop by.   I have always offered people enrolled in the workshop my shop as a place to come and get started on their projects.   It's not feasible for most since they come from all over the world, buy for those who are local I make that offer.   Now if you are in San Diego, that's a ways from LA but you still have time to make 3 or 4 trips before the workshop.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One recent UNH participant humorously related his experience with the course to me, where he was I guess forced to make blocks square on all sides prior to fitting, and they didn't even get that far as to fit them. It is expensive and not very hands-on according to him. He came home with a mold and loose cubes/blocks. Not that shooting the breeze and lectures aren't important. There was a lot of that though.

 

How is it the fault of the workshop that it took your friend so long to square-up some blocks by hand?

That procedure should take no longer than an hour, especially if the person is "beyond that". But perhaps I'm misunderstanding something?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I would say in response to several of the comments in the thread is that it is a good idea before signing up to lay out your experience to date and what you would like to accomplish in the two weeks or whatever duration of your attendance.  See what the folks in charge of the workshop say in response to that.  Some programs are designed to accommodate the level of training/experience and pace of the individual student.  With any luck you are in the company of more experienced "students" and get to learn from them as well as from the formal instructors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Julian CC is right on target with his suggestion, and I'll tell you what I say when people call:

 

The people at my workshop are of wildly varying levels of experience and skill. People are all working on completely different parts of the process. Some are working professional makers; some nearly don't know which end of the knife to hold. The way I run the class is to constantly cruise from bench to bench, taking each person individually and trying to push each forward as efficiently as possible during their time there. Consequently, it's a constant question, answer and demonstration session. This is all done non-privately, and people who hear something they're interested in are welcome to come and join in the conversation, and they often do. Occasionally something comes up that warrants a quick full-group lecture and we do that, but I suspect that most participants have one ear open all the time, listening to what's happening around them, too. We always have one or two who come for a working vacation, jam their benches into corners facing the wall, and work as hard as possible, as much as possible.

 

I am pleased that the whole situation has developed into a very comfortable three weeks, with the atmosphere of being among friends, so this method works extremely well. The one-on-one sessions are for people to ask things they perhaps don't want to talk about in public, or to get a deeper explanation of something that's more time consuming or philosophical.

 

We have also had some interesting group activities, where people have cooperated to make drawings or tools, and there are always some people coming around with great instruments to examine and play.

 

My particular contribution is that I have worked both in a great restoration shop and a violin factory that was based on Italian working methods,, too. I try to bring the concern for quality of the first, but with the expediency and efficiency of the second. My attitude about making is that it should be fast and efficient and productive, and the results first rate. No one is going to spend two weeks squaring blocks in my class!

 

I consider the people in the workshop some of my closest friends now. I spend more time with them in those weeks than I do with many people here in Chicago, and we also have a private forum where we stay in touch during the off months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How is it the fault of the workshop that it took your friend so long to square-up some blocks by hand?

That procedure should take no longer than an hour, especially if the person is "beyond that". But perhaps I'm misunderstanding something?

 

Some of us are a bit beyond making a form and squaring blocks. I use a well-adjusted bandsaw for cutting square blocks, and cannot fathom doing it differently.

 

I would like to attend a "clinic" where I bring a couple of violins. One is complete, ready for adjusting the setup. The other is either in the white with a removable top for inspection, alterations, and critique of the components. Furthermore, I would bring a nearly completed scroll, a garland, ... you name it.  It is difficult flying across the country with all the tools I need for making. 

 

I would also like to attend a tuning workshop in which the top is re-graduated to adjust the tone. Adjusting/recutting a bridge could be included. I am learning these things on my own which is very difficult.

 

Another comment is that some of the mentioned workshops are over-subscribed and essentially closed.

That sort of thing sounds really interesting, even if some hands on components would be beyond my level. I always thought the witchcraft art of good violin making was included in those very items you mentioned. I would probably cheat and buy a Chinese white violin, just to go. :-) Please let me know if those sort of workshops ever happen!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One recent UNH participant humorously related his experience with the course to me, where he was I guess forced to make blocks square on all sides prior to fitting, and they didn't even get that far as to fit them. It is expensive and not very hands-on according to him. He came home with a mold and loose cubes/blocks. Not that shooting the breeze and lectures aren't important. There was a lot of that though.

If I may ask, and not trying to disagree, just curious: how is it expensive? They are $100. cheaper per week than Pomona (not that it matters a great deal) unless I misread their blurbs, and their accomodations are really inexpensive, on the order of $50. day. Food is $22. per day. 

 

Also, was more thinking about repair/setup than making, at least for UNH.  Would that change the equation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well...it's 850 a week plus plane fare, food, and lodging, and then you get taught like you're going to be there for 3 years. Everyone in the class was a beginner doing the same exercise with the blocks. It takes forever to make a perfect cube, and it's a great idea to do at home. But if you have a week or two weeks, probably not. I wasn't there but I do know that my friend isn't stupid and he has better than beginner tool handling skills. He felt so frustrated and you can see why. Everyone seems to love Pomona otoh...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One recent UNH participant humorously related his experience with the course to me, where he was I guess forced to make blocks square on all sides prior to fitting, and they didn't even get that far as to fit them. It is expensive and not very hands-on according to him. He came home with a mold and loose cubes/blocks. Not that shooting the breeze and lectures aren't important. There was a lot of that though.

How important a factor is the block grain running true and perpendicular to the ribs? If you think it is, then splitting out and truing up a block by hand gives you more control than a band saw.

 

These are not just workmanship details, but get to the fundamental character of the craftsmanship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.