Working At Oberlin
Raising the level of Violin Making
A wide variety of subjects related to bowed stringed instruments are presented to and by the participants. Instruments are cooperatively built during the two week workshop to demonstrate construction methods and design concepts.
Each year’s focus can take the form of studying a particular historical maker, a specific instrument, or a particular aspect of the process of violin making. The Oberlin Violin Makers Foundation assembles resources to help lay the groundwork for the studies.
During the 2019 session the program was able to scan an important 18th century Venetian violin at the Nikon Metrology Laboratory in Brighton, Michigan. The information gathered was completely non-destructive and and was used by the participants to construct a detailed copy.
In 2011, an examination of the “Betts” Stradivari violin from 1704 in the collection of the Library of Congress took place when it came to Oberlin. Ongoing study became possible through photographs, CT scans, publications, and 3-D printed re-creations, all of which became part of the Oberlin Workshop Archives. Detailed copies of the Betts were cooperatively built to demonstrate working methods, and varnish application techniques in order to recreate the authentic appearance of the Stradivari’s varnish.
Group projects have included the study and construction of intruments by Antonio Stradivari, Joseph Guarneri “del Gesu”, Nicolo Amati, Sanctus Seraphin, Domenico Montagnana, Carlo Bergonzi and others. Participants have designed and constructed unique Oberlin violin & viola models as well. A wide variety of in-depth construction and varnish techniques are demonstrated, practiced and documented as part of the yearly curriculum.