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I think I’ve identiThed the ‘mystery’ jig in the feature on early stateside bow makers (‘First Class’, November 2019). First, though, I should point out that the headplate installation jig earlier in the article is missing a piece. There should be a pressure plate shaped to the head-face curve between the string and the new head face, otherwise the string’s ‘pull’ only works at the edges of the face and the centre is actually pulled away from the head. Many of the ex-Hill makers fall into that trap: you can see it on the front of the head mortise when the hair is out, but fortunately they also have pins to keep their metal head faces on. It would easily go missing in a workshop clearout, the clearer being unaware of its importance. The mystery holder (or whatever) is surely a low-heat curing box for varnished bows. Many are the finishes employed, but they all come down to spirit varnish/French polish; oil varnish; two-pack polyurethane (which goes back to the mid-1950s); or linseed oil. Depending on the weather, all take varying times to dry, and I expect the winter weather in the northern USA will demand some drying assistance; think of it as a predecessor of the violin maker’s ‘sun tube’ cabinet. Hill’s used oil finish and there were some heating pipes in the Hanwell workshops that provided an ideal place for bows to dry o. during their coats of oil.

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About The Strad

Lisa Batiashvili discusses her latest projects and we delve into the mysterious world of varnish making. There’s a look at strategies for teaching adolescents, and Leila Josefowicz completes her look at Berg’s Violin Concerto. Plus Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Sentimental Work.