Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Roughing out a Hardanger tailpiece

Since I'm really just trying to get the basic geometry down on my Hardanger fiddle build, I toyed with the idea of simply modifying a standard violin tailpiece.  That's ready to go for the top 4 strings, and then I can add some wire hooks for the 5 understrings.  But it just didn't seem right to me, especially in contrast with the traditional overlapping soundholes I had already made.

On the other hand, I didn't want to go with all the decoration on a traditional Hardanger.  That would be too much in contrast the other way with my rather plain build on the rest of the fiddle. A nicely figured piece of wood will have to be decorative enough for this one.

In Sverre Sandvik's book Vi byggjer Hardingfele -- English translation is (How) We Build the Hardanger Fiddle, translation by Eldon Ellingson -- are some details for the tailpiece.  It can't be too heavy.  It must not be too light.  Goldilocks.  But, one must start somewhere, so from the plans contained with the book, I traced the tailpiece outline with tracing paper, then onto a piece of cardstock (a bit of junk mail, actually).  Found a nice piece of cut-off maple from a previous violin top, traced it out there, using the cardstock template, and cut it out on the band saw.  Then, taking a block plane, start to clean up the top surface.

 Some more work with planes, knives, and rasps, it's starting to take shape.

Finer tools, and I got it to the point where I can call it roughed in.  I still need to drill the string holes, fit a saddle, and figure out how to put in the hooks for the 5 understrings, but I can think about that until tomorrow.

Of course, there is the underneath work, that the player seldom sees, but has the needed hollowed out places for the tailgut to fit, as well as thinning for the string holes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Viola color varnish

The viola at the same stage as the Hardanger of yesterday. 

After these photos, I put a coat of clear varnish on each.  Guessing one more coat of clear in a couple days, then to let it harden a week or two, before polishing and fitting up.

And I really need to finish that sheetrock job one of these days.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Hardanger color varnish

A few snapshots.  I think the color is about where I want it.  Never quite happy with varnish, yet have learned that if I try too hard, it just gets worse.

Applied a coat of brown varnish yesterday. A coat of clear varnish tomorrow, perhaps, then another in a couple more days, and then to let it sit and harden a while before polishing.

My viola is at the same place in varnishing.  Will try to grab some snapshots of that tomorrow.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Cook a Pumpkin Dinner

Carving of a different sort today.  We learned this method from Tim Sommer of Purple Sage Farms in Middleton, Idaho.  He might have just made it up himself, but certainly folks do things like this elsewhere.  The method is an improvisation, and we do it somewhat different each time, depending on what we have on hand.  It's a great autumn & winter dinner.


Get a pumpkin.  Big is good.  This one is from the Peaceful Belly Farms stand at the Boise Farmers Market. 

In the glass bowl, I have chopped and skillet-fried sausage and vegetables.  Merguez lamb sausage from our friend Janie Burns of Meadowlark Farm here in Nampa.  Vegetables include garlic, onion, bell peppers, a jalapeno, mushrooms.  Some cilantro from Purple Sage.  Broccoli or something like that is a good addition, but we didn't have any.  It worked anyway.

Cut open the pumpkin as if making a jack-o-lantern and clean it out.  Don't cut eyes, nose or mouth!  You want the solid bowl structure.

Cut up a bunch of bread.  Stale is ok.  This is not stale, but is a mix of sourdough wheat and rye.  The bread will help soak up some of the water as the pumpkin cooks.  Grate some cheese.  Parmesan here.


 Oil the outside of the pumpkin to prevent it from drying out and scorching too much. Any cooking oil will work.


Start layering in the bread, vegetable & sausage, cheese.  Multiple layers is good.  I won't show them all here, but I think I had 3 layers of each, so 9 layers.  Maybe 10.  I didn't really keep track.  Fill it up.

Put the lid back on.  Remember to oil it, too.  I hit it with some spray cooking oil because by this time, my hands were a mess.

Into a pre-heated oven.  I set mine at 350 °F, but it runs a little low, which is good.  A lower temperature lets the flavors blend better.

Cook until done.  How do you know when it's done?  After an hour, check it by poking the pumpkin flesh with a knife.  If it's soft all the way through, it's probably done.  This pumpkin took about 2 hours to cook.  Will vary with size and content.

Take the top off, and scrape the meat from the pumpkin, mixing it in with all the stuffing inside.

Scoop out what you want and eat it.  Go back for seconds.  Good stuff.

Obligatory fiddle post -- Hardanger and viola in the varnish drying closet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Some varnish work

Varnishing a fiddle can be frustrating.  It's tempting to put on thick layers to be done with it.  If I could do that, I would.  But I've found I do best with several thin layers, built up slowly.  Even that is not fool-proof.  This fool knows from experience.

Anyway, the Hardanger is the smaller one on the left, and the viola is the bigger one on the right.  Getting there.  Be making music with them soon.