West Dean College student, Edward Klose, has completed a copy of a 17th century treble viol by English Maker William Turner, easily identifiable by the Turner trademark heart rosette. Following a study trip to the Orpheon Foundation at Castello di Duino, Italy, Edward, now completing his second year at West Dean, brought back his drawings and measurements of the heritage treble viol from the Vazquez Collection of historical instruments, which had been modified out of all proportion, and determined to explore how the instrument would have looked and played originally, despite its deterioration over the centuries.
"The modified treble viol was too large so I had to scale my drawings down," says Edward. "The instrument had become warped and twisted. I made a drawing of this shape and, in order to obtain a symmetrical plan, I found a centreline and folded the drawing length ways and took the mean line from the two outlines. In Italy I had used a camera to see inside the original instrument and found a stave of spruce behind the heart rosette for stability, which is unusual. I knew I would enjoy the challenge of making a copy of the instrument."
Once the treble viol had been constructed, using spruce, maple and English service wood (similar to Rowan), Edward sanded it down using, firstly, dried dog fish skin, followed by a reed of the horse hair plant, to achieve a smooth and fine finish. The next stage was to apply oil ground to seal the wood and, finally, to apply the varnish, made to a special West Dean recipe and incorporating the madder plant for pigment to produce the perfect balance of colour.
West Dean College is internationally renowned for teaching in the School of Conservation with specialisms in Books, Ceramics, Clocks, Furniture and Metalwork, and Making Stringed Musical Instruments, Visual Arts and Creative Writing in the School of Creative Arts. Musical Instrument graduates have gone on to work in some of the most prestigious workshops worldwide including J & A Beare and John Dilworth in London, Frederick Chaudiere in Montpelier and Williams Monical in New York.
Study trips to international public and private collections offer students the opportunity to conduct research on rare instruments and they are encouraged to explore their findings on their return to the workshops at the College. Edward's plans will now be used for future first year students at West Dean College to make their first project.
The Making Stringed Musical Instruments programme is a broad course encompassing the whole field of stringed musical instrument making and creates a professional environment for students, to encourage a business-like approach. Each student will ideally complete two to three projects a year and choice of instrument depends upon the interest and needs of the student, but include the viola da gamba and violin families.
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