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Bow Wrapping, Whalebone style


Jeff White
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I've pretty much got my wire wrappings down (bows) to a comfort level, but I'm wanting to do some of my stock bows in the "Whalebone" type (imitation, plastic etc) on some.  I don't know how and can't find anything on the net showing.  Does anyone know of a good tutorial, or can take a pic of a page showing the way to start/end it?   jeff

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I will try to show and describe how I put on a two-strip plastic/imitation whalebone wrapping.  Some of the pictures didn’t come out as well as I hoped because I was holding onto the plastic strips with one hand while taking the pictures one-handed.

 

Before I took this picture I cleaned the stick.  Then I made a pencil mark on the central frog-mounting facet indicating the end of the frog thumb projection in the hair-loosest position.  And I made a second pencil mark to show the total length of the grip.  Normally, I make the second mark about 75 millimeters from the first.

 

Here is a bow stick locked in my bow winding fixture.  The fixture has a crank handle that I can turn to rotate the bow as I wind on the strips.  Spools of the black and white plastic strips that I will put on can be seen behind the fixture.

P1040784.JPG

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I started with the black strip at the second pencil mark.  I wrapped the strip about one and a quarter turns around the stick with the tapered end underneath.  Before taking this picture, I held the tapered end that’s sticking out loose with my right hand (I am right handed.) and pulled the rest of the strip tightly over it with my left.  If everything goes the way I hope it will, the tension on the strip locks the end in place, but sometimes the whole thing slips off and I have to try again.

P1040787.JPG

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In this picture, I have rotated the stick with the fixture to wind the strip two more turns around the stick and over the tapered end.  I pull pretty hard on the strip while I’m doing this, and by the time I’ve gotten this far the strip is locked in place pretty securely.  At this point I run a couple of drops of thin super glue into the windings to secure the strip better.

P1040790.JPG

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Now I want to trim the strips to their final lengths, but I cannot see the pencil mark because I wound the strips over it.  Here's where the dividers come in.  I use them to mark where to cut the strips.  I mark the strips with a little prick mark on each stick facet.  All the marks are the same distance from the end of the fixture.   I had previously set the dividers a little more than the distance between the fixture and the pencil mark to leave a little room between the frog and the ends of the plastic strips for the thumb leather to extend over.

P1040799.JPG

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I have quite a collection of spools of strips that I put on bows.  I like to have a variety so that the bows don’t all come out the same.  Some of these I bought from a violin trade supplier (Dick), some I bought at craft stores and some I found at the local flea market.  Some are plastic, some are imitation leather and some are real leather.  I always watch out for things that might look interesting wound on bows.  The colors vary.  Sometimes I put on a wrapping of two contrasting colored strips, and sometimes I use a single color.  Sometimes I just put on a single piece of leather.

 

P1040783.JPG

 

The bow that I wound in these pictures is a very cheap German bow, so I think it’s appropriate that I put on these garish plastic strips.  I have some higher quality plastic strips that I sometimes use on better bows, but I put silver wire on most better bows.

 

I made the bow winding fixture.  It is a crude imitation of the type Arnold Bone made, which I saw when I took his bow rehairing/repairing class at the University of New Hampshire in 1990.  I have seen people install this type of plastic strip winding without any type of fixture -- just holding the bow in their hands -- so I know that the fixture is not necessary.  I’ve never tried it without the fixture, but I think it would be a lot harder.

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Brad, great writeup!

Back when I was doing stuff like that, I'd mostly hammer whalebone or plastic flat, rather than cutting it thinner with a knife in the overlap area. Aside from flattening, that also  widened and increased the surface grip area, relying less on glue (but increasing surface area is an advantage with glue too).

Not my idea, probably learned it from Hans Weisshaar or Johannes Finkel, and that may have gone back to much earlier training for both of them as well.

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9 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

If you end up using a higher quality imitation whalebone wrap (where the "white" is semi transparent), I've found that wrapping over a thin layer blush colored paper tends to improve the appearance of some of this stuff.

Jeff, can you show me a piece of what you use.  I'm imagining all different types of paper and not sure.  jeff

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I used use a piece of my stationary at "the firm".  It was beige-ish.  The idea is to get the reflection to mimic the brownish-white natural whalebone had AND to prevent the plastic from gripping into the finish of the stick (the semi transparency makes it look blotchy when it sticks... almost like liquid is stuck under the wrap).  Make sense?

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