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How to carve a violin head


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Hi guys I'd like to point out that I'm not Violin Maker, however I do have a serious passion for making violins.

My eight-year-old daughter came home five years ago and very unexpectedly said she would like to play the violin. 

Since then I've made 13 violins. 

Anyway my latest violin is called the Godzilla violin! I know this seems a bit strange but I'm making it for an 11-year-old boy who simply loves Godzilla. 

Obviously a Godzilla violin has to have a Godzilla head instead of a scroll. 

Seriously I've looked everywhere but I can't find any information of how to carve a Lions head scroll.

My thinking is if I can see how to carve a Lionshead scroll then maybe I'll be able to carve a Godzilla head.

I'd be very thankful to anybody who could help me on this one :-) 

 

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Violin makers are trained to carve scrolls, and not human or animal heads (but some will be able to do this). The heads we see in some old instruments were carved by professional sculptors, in general.  Instruments with heads in the place of scrolls are devalued by the market, in general.

You could try carving a scroll, I made a stet by step tutorial many years ago, if you google MANFIO CARVING A VIOLA SCROLL STEP BY STEP you will find it.

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There is a well-known maker in New Mexico by the name of Ann Cole. She decorates everyone of her instruments, and they are all works of art. It might be worthwhile to contact her and ask her how she would approach such a project. She is so creative that your request might stimulate her interest in doing the same thing.

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2 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

Violin makers are trained to carve scrolls, and not human or animal heads (but some will be able to do this). The heads we see in some old instruments were carved by professional sculptors, in general.  Instruments with heads in the place of scrolls are devalued by the market, in general.

You could try carving a scroll, I made a stet by step tutorial many years ago, if you google MANFIO CARVING A VIOLA SCROLL STEP BY STEP you will find it.

When I read the initial post, Claudio, your astounding video is exactly what I thought of.

That’s an amazing Video, and almost made me want to switch to viola so I could truly appreciate your art.

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If you have a Godzilla model, that would be a good start.  My very first carving was a snakehead, for which I purchased a real head of a rattlesnake on eBay.  It was handy to see how the scales were shaped and how they fit together around the mouth, nose, and eyes.  I didn't want the spade-shaped rattlesnake head, so I modified it to look nicer.

If you want to do scales and small surface features, you will likely need very small, tight-radius gouges.  I made 2 small ones from scrap HSS for the scales.

1798993284_1103191.JPG.22b3d5721a678195388be5e3892fa160.JPG

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On 7/27/2021 at 2:12 PM, Don Noon said:

If you have a Godzilla model, that would ber a good start.  My very first carving was a snakehead, for which I purchased a real head of a rattlesnake on eBay.  It was handy to see how the scales were shaped and how they fit together around the mouth, nose, and eyes.  I didn't want the spade-shaped rattlesnake head, so I modified it to look nicer.

If you want to do scales and small surface features, you will likely need very small, tight-radius gouges.  I made 2 small ones from scrap HSS for the scales.

1798993284_1103191.JPG.22b3d5721a678195388be5e3892fa160.JPG

THAT is COOL.

 

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Dogzilla?

I admit I am no expert but agree with Don that a model Godzilla head will be a great help. This year I decided to try to make a "Lion" type of violin head and I only had a photograph to copy from. So, I sketched this, then traced it and tried to get the shape into my head. I then carved a practice head in Limewood which turned out looking a bit like Hogarth's Pug interbred with a Lion but I now had a model. I then made two more models in Sycamore to try to refine my Lion and to work out the head angle and size to allow reasonable access for stringing the upper peg.

Here is a picture of my three practice heads and the actual head carved on the neck at the right

P1080017.JPG

I think I should have made him a little smaller as he seems a little heavier than a normal scroll but am still pleased with his amused, resigned look. If you want to have a similar expression on your face and have some time to waste, I have put my full amateur lion head carving rigmarole on the Contemporary Maker's Gallery in my post. Maybe looking at my mistakes will help preventing you mixing up your letters and like me ending up with a "Dogziilla"?

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2 hours ago, Andrew tkinson said:

I think I should have made him a little smaller as he seems a little heavier than a normal scroll 

My snakehead too seems heavier than a normal scroll, so keep that in mind when making Godzilla.  Normal scrolls don't actually have a huge volume of wood, but rounded head-shaped objects can.

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2 hours ago, Andrew tkinson said:

Dogzilla?

I admit I am no expert but agree with Don that a model Godzilla head will be a great help. This year I decided to try to make a "Lion" type of violin head and I only had a photograph to copy from. So, I sketched this, then traced it and tried to get the shape into my head. I then carved a practice head in Limewood which turned out looking a bit like Hogarth's Pug interbred with a Lion but I now had a model. I then made two more models in Sycamore to try to refine my Lion and to work out the head angle and size to allow reasonable access for stringing the upper peg.

Here is a picture of my three practice heads and the actual head carved on the neck at the right

P1080017.JPG

I think I should have made him a little smaller as he seems a little heavier than a normal scroll but am still pleased with his amused, resigned look. If you want to have a similar expression on your face and have some time to waste, I have put my full amateur lion head carving rigmarole on the Contemporary Maker's Gallery in my post. Maybe looking at my mistakes will help preventing you mixing up your letters and like me ending up with a "Dogziilla"?

Cool!

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I forgot to mention that before making a practice carving I tried to get a bit of an idea of things by making a few Lion heads in plasticine. I made some wooden modelling tools out of scraps of wood.

I think Don's snake and jessupe's dragons are great. I wonder if you could make a round head lighter in weight by following jessupe's example and somehow making the Godzilla head hollow? Or maybe you could make the pegbox as normal but without the scroll, carve the head in a lighter wood and glue it into place?

Maybe it would be a bit of fun to make a violin with a couple of detachable heads which could be changed to suit either the music or how the player was feeling?250px-Tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic.

 

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fwiw because I have no "floor" in my pegbox they are lighter to begin with but also allows for a drill bit to come from the backside and be able to hollow the "scroll" area, but my main reason for this is that it makes putting on new strings very easy

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