A Thank You to the Ontario Arts Council

I wanted to extend my warmest thanks and share with you some highlights from my experience gained through the Chalmers Professional Development Grant, which was granted to me by the Ontario Arts Council in 2015. The grant allowed me to attend this year’s violin making workshop in Oberlin, Ohio for two weeks. There, while working on a violin, I was able to attend great lectures given by colleagues coming from.. Read More

Making a cello

“Very nice cello, with a handsome varnish. The sound is well balanced with a deep and strong C string, which can be difficult to find in a cello. I also like the width and projection of the A string sound.” Paul Marleyn, Professor of Cello at the University of Ottawa www.paulmarleyn.com     A musical instrument such as a violin, viola or cello is the result of an accumulation of.. Read More

Shark skin

The use of shark skin was introduced to me several years ago during an internship in England. The skin of sharks has an abrasive property which once dry can be used like sandpaper on wood. Nonetheless, I find that a small piece of shark skin tends to last longer than sand paper. In the “Sacconi book”[1], there is a hand drawing of enlarged dermal denticles from a dogfish (Fig.29 p33). I.. Read More

Making varnish for violins

The warm season is the ideal time to prepare varnish as it is better to be outdoors to cook the ingredients. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone experiment in their kitchen as there are too many ways it could go wrong, starting with strong and persistent resin and linseed oil smells in the best case scenario. The varnish I use for my instruments is a mixture of drying oil, cooked rosin.. Read More

Poplar cello

Cellos or Violas made with poplar or willow backs have a reputation for having a warm sound. These wood species were used throughout the history of violin making, and particularly in Cremona during the second half of the XVII century and the first half of the XVIII century. In his book, “The Secrets of Stradivari,” Simone F. Sacconi mentions that two fifths of Stradivari’s cellos still remaining, feature poplar or.. Read More