Violin Forum/Message Board Forum Index Violin Forum/Message Board
Provided by Lemuel Violins
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

What do you do?
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Violin Forum/Message Board Forum Index -> Violin Making and Restoration Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Michael Darnton
Moderator


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1123
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 8:36 am    Post subject: What do you do? Reply with quote

There's a thread that often appears on forums that has never shown up here, as far as I can remember. Please bear with me on this boring request, but I'm curious about this particular group: what do we all do for a living? I'm curious about peoples' context to being here. . . like have you always made stuff, or maybe like history, things like that. It's actually more open-ended than what you do for money, if you want it to be.

I'll start:
At 10 I started playing cello and was always more interested in the instrument than the music. At 15 I started working in a photo studio and had a series of unconnected jobs in photography, then in my 30s, looking for something I thought would be less stressful, switched from news photography to violin making and restoration, which I have done since. Currently I'm one of three partners in a violin shop in Chicago. I do only the shop stuff, no sales or anything else.

Next? Thanks in advance.
_________________
new blog at my site! http://darntonviolins.com/blog
my work sites: http://darntonviolins.com and http://darntonhersh.com
my summer project: http://scvmw.com


Last edited by Michael Darnton on Sat May 07, 2016 11:00 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
wm_crash
Member


Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 140
Location: Wilmington, DE - USA

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up on my grandparents' subsistence farm in a small village in Romania. Wiki says the village has 1760 people. I doubt it. At age 7, moved to the city with my parents so I could go to a decent school. At about 15, we moved to Montreal, Canada. Spent some time there learning French and English and sales taxes.

I was going to go to med school, but it seems I wasn't cut for it. My 30 minutes interview only took 12 minutes, mostly because I answered all the yes/no questions with either "yes" or "no". I did Biochemistry thinking I'd try again to get into med school. Halfway through Biochemistry, I was tired of all the volunteering and social activism needed to beef up my med school application. So I stopped. After graduating, I went into Computer Science. Got my bachelor and master. Right about then, Silicon Valley was booming. I got hired in the hardware test department at Cisco. I was a software guy. Took me 7 years to get out of there, mostly because of non-compete clauses between departments and companies. I spent next 2 years as a software guy, but then we decided to move out of California. The tech market had soured and I couldn't work remotely from my new address in Delaware. I am still la software guy doing somewhat of a freelance work within a small company. I'm the only tech guy here and I never have meetings. I work from home, which is nice.

While in Delaware, I got into fish keeping/breeding. At the peak, I had about 40 tanks with various killifish. Most of them were cold water south american annuals. That took about 3 hours of my daily life. I quit cold turkey and gave away my setup. I still have one tank in the living room and currently trying to decide what fish to put there.

I am tone deaf and not able to play any instrument. I wanted to get into drums. Bought a kit. Then I saw smileythejazzcat make a snare drum on youtube. Got into that. From there I got into more general woodworking. My little one plays violin, so I got interested in violin related woodworking. Haven't made anything, but the plan is to make some bows first. I hate the idea of pre made parts. So that sets me back quite some in any building process.

I've recently added machining abilities to the shop, a mill and a lathe so far. Trying to find a very small surface grinder as well, but not sure they exist. I thought that buying new tools would spare me the pain to rehabbing. Turns out that china/taiwan made machining tools need to be taken apart and seriously cleaned and properly lubricated. Hopefully this summer. I also have a Unimat lathe. That thing is cute. I will try to find a way to make it sturdier. Otherwise it has too much flex for even small precision work.

The shop is 2 bays of a 3 bay garage. It's jam packed with lumber and tools and dust. My current project is to go through my shorts and narrows. Whatever can be used for stave snare drums will become snare drums. Whatever can not, will be used for vanda baskets. Whatever is too small for that can be used as frog buttons Smile I hate to throw wood away. Even the chips/shavings from my dust collector go in the garden as mulch.

My wife is into orchids and gardening, and recently looking at plaster casting. We're thinking to get a few bee hives. We're both into heavy metal, but rarely go to shows lately.

The kids want a dog. Not going to happen.

cheers,
Cosmin
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Darnton
Moderator


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1123
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful! Thanks.
Next? Too many views; not enough answers!
_________________
new blog at my site! http://darntonviolins.com/blog
my work sites: http://darntonviolins.com and http://darntonhersh.com
my summer project: http://scvmw.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
rs
Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2009
Posts: 188
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I began in a public Christian ministry in 1973 when I was 16. I supported myself as a weldor. I taught welding for a time and was a pipefitter for a couple of decades. Thiry-nine years ago, I took violin lessons and also became much more interested in how they work than in playing them myself. I started working on violins as a hobby in 1977. I made my first violin in the early 1990's.

In 2002 my first wife died in my arms. She was only 45 years old. The following year, my little brother died in Africa while serving in his missionary assignment.

I began amplifying my ministry shortly thereafter in the Spanish field in the St. Louis area. Many of my Hispanic friends nicknamed me "Paco". In 2005 I attended The Ministerial Training School in Texas and then relocated to St. Joseph, Missouri to serve in the Spanish-speaking ministry. Because I accept no pay or stipend for this service, I began making and repairing violins for a living to support myself. For a while, I used my name Paco in my violin making, but have dropped this moniker as my Hispanic friends in St. Joseph know me by my given name.

I remarried 9 years ago. My wife left a lucrative medical profession to join me in my ministry in St. Joseph. She is currently a free-lance fine artist and has given me a lot of good suggestions on color layering, varnish techniques and use of color.

I have a son. He serves in the Russian ministry in Chicago. He also teaches Russian.

All but one of my clients live far away from me and this presents challenges. I rely on dealers and word-of-mouth from client to client to pick up new work.
_________________
Randall Shenefelt
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
L P Reedy
Member


Joined: 02 Apr 2009
Posts: 248
Location: Brevard, NC

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started "playing" trombone at about age 10 but had very poor pitch sense and was never any good. Also did not enjoy playing in band, so quit at about 15. Studied agriculture and chemistry in college then worked 33 years as a cellophane and paper chemist, doing a lot of photography on the side until 1983 and a relocation. Also sheared sheep frequently in my younger days.

Shortly after involuntary move to NC I found bluegrass and old time music and got interested in fiddle. Oh, yeah, I lost my left hand in a farm "accident" in 1970 (Nov 7 at 5:30 pm) so my choice of instruments was somewhat limited, but fiddle was always my choice anyway. I didn't intend to try it, but got an old junker for my daughter. She declined so I gave it a try in 1986 and found I could do more than I ever thought (only thing I do left-handed). Pitch was still horrible but gradually got better until people tell me that I'm right on most of the time. Took over two years before I could tell the difference.

Made my first crude fiddle in 1990, which surprised others by its tone, and am now over 70 (also in age), including 5 violas. I don't sell many and no longer care, just like trying to approach perfection. Some of my more useful tips have come from Michael, such as glycerin-treated purfling and his purfling gluing method, and a few differences of opinion. Many more but I'm getting too old to remember. Several working details I have had to figure out for my own situation. Apart from a few books, Michael has been my best resource.

My best-selling model is a 3/4 designed for a lady with small hands who wanted full size sound. But even those sales have slowed lately.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ctviolin
Super Member


Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 961
Location: Roswell

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up in Manhattan and Hermose Beach, in Southern California. I was a hard core surfer for about six years @ during high school. I learned to make my first violin, in 1976 under the wing of a mister Paul Shaupe a a maker which lived in Inglewood Ca.

Then I spent the next ten or so years as an art director for an advertising agency, and that's were I first had the poly-cystic kidney kick in (each parent had to have one specific gene, and then approx 1/3 of their children would have the same fate (or disease).

Both of my brothers lucked out, and have normal kidneys, hence, no problems form them in this department.

With a 3 day a week dialysis scheduled (aprox 5 hrs. long/day) I could not pay for my, what I admit was a rather extravagant life style - so I moved to Roswell where my mother and little brother live.

The first house I bought out here was $13,000... (not a down payment - this was the full price! - GACK!) If I'm not entirely mistaken, that is about what a six pack of Corona was in LA back then...
(ok, now I'm just being silly)
but things out in new mexico, were so vastly different than they were in LA (COST WISE) it's sort of like living in a different country.

Here, I can afford myself .
_________________
Look,
Listen,
Learn.


Last edited by ctviolin on Sat May 07, 2016 6:02 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Michael Darnton
Moderator


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1123
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful reading, everyone! :-)
_________________
new blog at my site! http://darntonviolins.com/blog
my work sites: http://darntonviolins.com and http://darntonhersh.com
my summer project: http://scvmw.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
FiddleDoug
Member


Joined: 08 Sep 2007
Posts: 225
Location: Hilton, NY

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 3:08 pm    Post subject: What do I do? Reply with quote

I grew up in Rochester, NY. After college, I spent 34 years working as a chemist for Eastman Kodak. I escaped from Kodak in 2005, and started learning how to do violin repair and restoration. Being a lifelong woodworker and furniture builder, it felt like a very natural thing to do. I also started working for a glass artist (Milon Townsend) after I left Kodak. I currently still work part time doing glass art, part time working on violins, and, over the past year or so, I've also been doing some testing and reviews of airguns (pellet and BB) for an online airgun magazine (Hardair.com).
_________________
Doug Wall

www.wallindependent.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Dave Chandler
Super Member


Joined: 31 Oct 2007
Posts: 682
Location: Mt Mitchell in North Carolina

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Started violin lessons at age 9, but at age 14 family moved to a small town in Northern California with no orchestra, so I played brass in the marching band for a couple years. Put my violin in the closet, went off in 1968 and joined the Army.

Retired in 1995 after tours in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Kuwait, and India. I was what is referred to as a a "Politico-Military Analyst" specializing in South and Central Asia. A good part of my career was with the National Security Agency, and spent 5 years with the US Embassy in New Delhi, India. If it ends in "stan" I've been there. Teenage daughters ended my career (that would be a seperate book).

Pulled the fiddle out of the closet in 2004, and found the fingers didn't work that well any more, so I began studying various other aspects of violin history and making, and eventhally started putting tools to wood after a few years of study. I've completed 23 now, each sucessively better looking and better sounding. A year or so back, an acquaintence who is also lead violist in a small local symphony declared that I'm finally past making student violins. That was a great boost to my ego.

Five years ago, I started up the Southern Violin Association, and we recently had our 5th meeting in the Atlanta area. Lots of fun, but also a lot of work. Meeting attendance is usually between 15 and 40, so we're gaining ground, and prying folks out of the woodwork.

I'm 66, and had hoped to complete 100 before I get too old to continue. Now, though, I just want only to make good violins, even if its only one or two a year. This past year, I've struggled to complete two, with my wife's health (lung cancer) having priority. She's still healthy enough to do some travel, so this year we're on the road knocking off items on HER bucket list. In June, we're going diamond mining in Arkansas, and in August to Minnesota to go fishing, and who knows when we'll get back home. Probably spend winter in Florida this year.
_________________
Dave in the Blue Ridge
Southern Violin Association

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm" Winston Churchill

"I took the road less travelled, and now I don't know where I am." Marco Polo
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Chet Bishop
Super Member


Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 642
Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My mother had been a violinist prior to marriage, and never really played afterward, but we children would beg her to get out the violin, and we would take turns sawing away at it. They tried to send me to violin lessons for a while at about 9 years old, but it didn't turn out well. But I remember, even then, wanting to build one.

I have built things all my life, from miniature gardens, to tools, houses, barns, boats, etc. I took up welding, because someone told me they "always need welders"...but as it turned out, they don't always need all of them. Layoffs can and do happen, so there were some lean years there, early on. But I kept looking for things to build.

I took a job at a company (Gunderson, Inc.) in Portland, OR (a 35 mile commute) where we built railcars and barges, thinking I would work there six months at most, and would find something better and closer to home... That was nearly 30 years ago. I'm still there.

By 1991 I was teaching welding and related trades there at work; I ended up teaching at two local community colleges, as well, then back to just teaching at Gunderson. Now I teach print-reading, occasionally, but consistently teach welding supervision, and welding inspection, to prepare people for the national certifications in those two skills. I'd still rather build stuff...

In 1999 I began a viola for my youngest son, mostly using Henry Strobel's books. It took me a couple of years to complete it, and, though Brian liked it, he quit playing about the time I got the thing done. (sigh..) So I built another.

Jake Jelley convinced me to go to Ed Campbell's workshops. They were encouraging, but I am not sure how much I actually learned. Then I went to Michael Klein's school in Murphy, OR, later to Oberlin, and finally to Michael Darnton and Jim Brown's school. About that time Paul Schuback agreed to coach me, on a catch-as-catch-can basis. I went to one of his set-up seminars, and got about 40 hours there, plus maybe that much again in person.

Finally Gunderson was taking so much of my time that I stopped going to Paul, and just kept working on my own. But it has been difficult, as, by now, I am co-pastoring a couple of small churches, as well (without pay), so time is getting exceedingly precious. I can't quit the day-job, because there are medical needs that aren't going to go away, and work provides insurance.... I'd still rather build violins. Smile

I have only made 28 instruments in the last 16 years-- One upright bass, two cellos, ten violas, nine violins, and six five-string fiddles. They keep getting better, but I have only sold six, so far. (It wasn't supposed to be a non-profit organization; it just worked out that way.) Many repairs along the way, as well, of course.

I build a pretty good 14" viola, now, and my violins keep getting better, so that professionals are pleased with them now. But my best sellers have been the five-string fiddles. I still intend to build more basses, but they are really a big time commitment...and take up a lot of space.

Thanks for sharing your stories. I find it encouraging to read them.
_________________
Chet Bishop
http://www.bluefiddles.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
kjb
Super Member


Joined: 06 Feb 2013
Posts: 373

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mostly have worked with electricity and hvac for the last 30 years or so and taught adult ed at the local tech college and high school at nights for 21 years. I started wanting to make one because a friend did and it sounded better than anything that I could afford, Wanting to have a better violin is why I started, then it just became a creativity thing and a great learning experience. I have to say the experience with gault, my teacher changed my life for the better, mostly in a self esteem way.
I started going to a maker (willis gault) repairer that was 150 miles away on weekends in 1979 , over the ten years till his death , I made viola , viola d amore , and 8 or 9 violins, the viola sounds the best the others not so good.
married and family, I stopped doing anything till about 2006 or so and started getting things together with a shop.
I attended , 3 weeks with hans nebel, a week with joe robson , and have figured out I know a whole lot less than I thought I might,and won't live long enough to really understand whats it all about.
in the last 4 years , I have one in the white, and two finished including a 5 string which I am very happy with . I have played music most of my life sometimes for money, self taught, and have been putting a lot more time into music in the last three years.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
newo
Junior Member


Joined: 31 Oct 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Tx

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My dad came from a family of fiddle players but I was never around it but always wanted to be. I was a farmer until age 45 (soon to be 66) when financial problems forced me in to a 40 hr. pr week job in the airline industry, in a new place where I new absolutely nobody. In 1995 I saw a newspaper article about a local fiddle maker, met him and another that had made a few but had been the "go to" repairman in this area for 60 years. I decided this was for me. Like Chet, I'm always building something. I have completed 11 fiddles that I have liked well enough to leave alone, but I am always changing something, redoing, experimenting etc. As an example just today I started making a new top for a 5 string fiddle that I built in Nov.2014. It has a Sitka top on it and I don't like it so I'll just make a new one (european spruce) I do this kind of stuff all the time. I also buy old clunkers and bring them back to life. I will make new parts for them instead of just patching them up. My training is limited to what Ive learned from the local guys and the forums on the internet and my own experimentation. I am looking for a good 14in. viola pattern to use for 5 string fiddles. I have been using a 14.5in maggini modified a little, taller ribs, flatter arch with a thicker top plate. I would love to attend some Darnton workshops. When I was working I didn't have to time and now that I'm retired money is tight.
I have also spent a lot of time and money trying to make varnish and I'm currently pursuing a good spirit varnish.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Joseph Leahy
Member


Joined: 23 Mar 2008
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 2:58 pm    Post subject: Re: What do you do? Reply with quote

Hi Michael, good idea!

I started playing piano at age 6, moved on to violin at age 8 and continued into my late teens. During that time I played in the local youth orchestra (first chair), chamber and symphony orchestras and was successful in local competitions. Rock music was cooler at the time so I put the fiddle away in high school (regret that now).

I was always interested in working with my hands. I guess I get this honestly as my father just about finished building a Sequoia F.8L Falco aircraft from scratch before getting sick, and my grandfather owned a busy cedar strip boat building shop in the 1920s-50ssoin my 20s, I took a guitar making course from Ed Dick, a successful builder now with a shop and teaching facility in Denver.

Over the years, Ive continued to play the violin and a bit of guitar, played a couple of fiddle contests and a few gigs here and there and recently played a couple of concerts in a local community orchestra. Ive continued to study violin making (books, forums, discussions with builders and shops) while off and on doing minor repairs and setups on guitars, banjos, violins and whatever I got my hands on.

All of the above took second fiddle (note the pun) to other endeavors like getting an Economics degree, then a CPA and MBA, spending more years that I wish to count in the Finance world, running my own tech business for 6 years, owning and training horses, scuba diving, sports, photography, travel yada, yada, yadatoo many things to cover. I also have two wonderful, successful daughters and a wonderful and successful spouse so obviously, by preference, much of my time has been spent doing things with them and family life.

Currently I have a nicely set up home workshop where Im building violins part time and am planning on making this more of a full time endeavor starting next spring.

Thanks to all for sharing.

Joe
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Joseph Leahy
Member


Joined: 23 Mar 2008
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 11:36 am    Post subject: Re: What do you do? Reply with quote

Wow, this thread ended quick.

Over 2,300 members and only 11 of us replied? Pretty poor response so far but I applaud the original idea and those that have already added their comments.

Anyone else up to the challenge?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ctviolin
Super Member


Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 961
Location: Roswell

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joseph Leahy wrote:
Wow, this thread ended quick.

Over 2,300 members and only 11 of us replied? Pretty poor response so far but I applaud the original idea and those that have already added their comments.

Anyone else up to the challenge?


OK then, I'll repeat myself... 'sort-of', that is.

Having met many many violin makers during my years as a maker - I have always been impressed with their various "other " jobs in life. Very many makers have been involved in the aircraft industry. Either that or something very technical and exacting. More than what may be considered a "fair share" of them, in fact, I'd say.

Either that, or some related 'hands on' building of actual things - that must work perfectly, or else.

We (violin makers that is), mostly seem to be of a particular mindset.
Building bows now instead of violins, I notice the same type of "mental attitude" is common among-st bow makers.

What an odd bunch we are!
That we even bother to congregate in forums like this one, is sort of odd.
Ok, there you have it, my further opinion on the specific subject at hand.
Anyone else up to the challenge?

Let's hear it.
_________________
Look,
Listen,
Learn.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Violin Forum/Message Board Forum Index -> Violin Making and Restoration Forum All times are GMT - 4 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group