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a large 'cello, completed in 1993

Back of cello Belly of cello

     The wood is Vancouver Island 'big-leaf' maple. Growing more quickly than European maples, BC wood displays broader growth rings. 'Flame', or the figure in the grain, can be found in a great array of forms. I chose this piece for the similarity to that of the cello I was emulating; the Stradivarius of 1701 known as the 'Servais'. The orientation of the chevron is different, but then it was not my object to re-create the original. Honouring that famous instrument is more like it, and also seeking after a more C-string oriented sound than that I've usually encountered in smaller 'cellos.

    Carved from a single wedge of wood, re-sawn and joined in a 'bookmatch', it was then finished with a varnish of my own making. I first thickened a few litres of 'spirit of gum turpentine', a very pure form of this compound which is derived by distillation of the exuded gum of certain pine trees. Exposed to ultraviolet light and a constant flow of air bubbles for about three months, the watery liquid became thick like honey.

    While cooking, a slow stream of raw linseed oil was added. Once the right temperature was reached, and the mixture began to generate its own heat (an exothermic chemical reaction) it was removed from the heat source and slowly cooled. All colour is 'cooked' into the varnish, with no pigments being added. For a more red colour, I use a cast iron pot in place of stainless steel. The mixture reacts with the iron to produce a built-in red, with no harm to the clarity of the varnish.

Front view of scroll Back view of scroll

Close up of f-hole

     Pictures above were taken in the summer of 1999. The cello spent some years with a bassist, and has now returned for resale. Below are current (May, 2006) images.

cello back cello front