Friday, April 11, 2008

April - May Newsletter

The "Art" of Violin Making

The members and guests at the March meeting of the
South Dakota Woodcarvers enjoyed a special treat as Arthur Ramse gave a talk about violin making. Art retired from farming twenty-five years ago and moved to his current residence in Canton, SD. Wondering what he might do to occupy his time, he paid a visit to retired pastor John Watne, who had resumed the vocation of violin making as he had previously done in Norway.
After a second look at the "how to do" manual Pastor Watne encouraged him to read, Art decided to go ahead and give violin making a try. He learned the basics by assembling his first violin from a kit, and now he is working on his 40th instrument made almost entirely from scratch. Each step of the process, from carving the backs and fronts to bending and gluing the sides, requires painstaking precision, but one of the biggest challenges, Art says, has been learning to apply the perfect finish.
Art told some interesting stories about sales he had made and answered a lot of questions about the various techniques, but of course there were some trade secrets that he was not willing to divulge. In order to compete with the Made-in-China market and Internet sales, he might be willing to part with one his hand made violins for less than $1000.00.

Next Meeting: Saturday, April 19, (9:00 AM at the STI Ed Wood T&I Building)

We still have to decide whether or not to go ahead with plans for a booth at the SideWalk Arts Festival. Once a definite commitment to this project is made, we may have to dedicate some of our meetings to carving those ornaments and such that we intend to sell. (There are already some ornaments and carvings under way.) In the meantime, however, a little bird carving exercise has been planned. Band saw blanks for carving a profile sample of the bird heads will be available as a carving project for this meeting.

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