No Easter egg hunt this year, with my family gone to Japan. Instead my brilliant assistant Gianmaria Stelzer and I split open and chopped up a Tyrolean roof and found some first quality tone wood big enough for about 30 perfectly cut violin tops.
A dentrochronological analysis proved what an extraordinary find it was: these spruce trees grew in the same region and partly at the same time as those used by Antonio Stradivarius used for his instruments - much better then chocolate eggs or Easter bunnies!
Last year, together with my colleague Gabor Draskoczy we traveled to northern Italy to take some samples of the old planks. Back in London, we planed them and send a picture in for the dentro. With the wood looking really fine, feeling good under the tools and this flattering dentro result, we bought the whole lot.
The boards arrived on a pallet and were full of defects: knots, some woodworm, many cracks and of course, they were not cut to the quarter nor meticulously following the split. It needed a clear vision and systematical approach to get any usable violin fronts out of it. Some of these boards must have come from very big trees, their growth being super fine and showing only minimal curvature of the year rings in the end grain section.
After three days of two man's work, we were left with four piles of similar volume:
- 63 single pieces for split violin and viola fronts
- about 90 pieces for bass bars, 200 violin sound posts and blocks and linings for a dozen of violins
- two big bin liners full of shavings
- one big plastic tab full of chimney starters
The fist violin with this special material is currently tanning in the UV-box.