Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Violin Bow Making II: Screw and Button

When I was a kid, I thought it was fun to crank the heck out of the violin bow's button to the point of warping the whole stick. I might as well have taken wrench or pair of pliers afterwards to unscrew this little guy (don't actually do this by the way).

After seeing Lester fix so many repairs of kids with tension tightening disorders, I've gotten a better appreciation for his skill and this tiny but critical feature of the bow.

This button and screw is what fits into the frog of the violin bow. With a turn of this mechanism, it creats the needed playing tension for string instruments. The button can be made from different materials such as gold, silver, or nickel.

[Silver Button & Screw for Violin Bow, 2007]

Lester has compared this aspect of bow making to jewelry making. The process requires patience, a steady hand, and fine attention to detail. He works with a lathe first to carve out a small cylindrical piece of ebony that's less than 1 centimeter in diameter. A hole has to be drilled into it as well for the screw's place. The button's silver exterior needs to be bent into shape, welded, hammered, and finally polished to give it that octagonal look.

I got a chance to see him make one of these little mechanical designs into a smooth operating piece of art. I couldn't help but think to myself that the kind of things Les was doing was very similar to today's Industrial Designer. He was working from rough conceptual sketches, carefully prepared templates, calculating the correct proportions, and working with the modern tools & techniques that the old world's craftsmen never had.

Certainly he wasn't mass producing like a factory or had the digital precision & accuracy but the similarities were there. Lester though could care less about the comparison. He'd be happy any day if some one would call his work an artistry.

No comments:


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.