Violin making is all about the pleasures of the workshop: choosing woods, sharpening your tools and your imagination, then burying your workbench under the shavings.
The extraordinary thing about making bows is that they can be made so quickly that their shape can be conceived in a single gesture of the mind. Everything in bow making tends towards a kind of mystical geometry – the square as the cardinal tool, the squares that merge into trapezoids, the octagons that are cut into sixteen sections. With few tools and little material, a simple wooden stick emerges, to which curves and camber, flexibility and tension give all its personality.
The mystery of the bow lies in the fact that it is only the humblest third of the equation that the instrument and the musician inevitably complete. Yet it is impossible to pinpoint the subtle variation in thickness or camber that makes the bow effective. This world of geometry and hundredths of a millimetre is impregnated with a discreet poetry that takes its source in the veins of the wood, the ramblings of its thread and the many cups of tea that punctuate the craftsman’s day, saved each evening from a mystical crisis when he empties the shavings lodged in his socks.