The next Guild meeting will be Tuesday, February 13th starting 7:15 pm at Lee Valley Tools, Colwood.
Warren Bailey is our presenter. He is the son of a builder in England and trained initially as a furniture maker. But he fell out love with machinery and dust, so he quit to travel the world. For a number of years he did this, financing himself by tree-planting in B.C. That’s when he decided that he wanted to live here. He went back to England expecting to return in a year, but ended up going to the Newark School of Violin Making while he dealt with immigration requirements.
Thanks to his experience he excelled in instrument making and when he finished the program he was immediately offered a place in Florian Leonhard’s shop, whence he moved to J & A Beare, perhaps the premier violin dealers in the world, with a shop employing a team of highly skilled violin and bow restorers.
When he finally got to move here with his new family he arranged to do free-lance restoration work for Beares and Leonhard, and Christophe Landon. Now he flies to London or New York to pick up instruments by the legendary violin makers of the eighteenth century, and brings them here to work on them.
Given that these instruments are the most valuable artifacts crafted in wood, often valued in the millions, the level of skill and knowledge demanded of those who restore them is extraordinary. Exterior repairs have to be invisible, so matching grain and medullary ray patterns must be exact, as also the finish. Within the instruments, patching split and wormhole riddled wood, achieving just the right degree of rigidity and resonance, is a huge challenge.
That he can rise to these challenges means that if Warren is not the most skilled woodworker living in Victoria, he is one of them. Note his website: warrenbaileyfineviolins.com. If you’re interested in reading about the strange world of these hyper-expensive instruments, check out the New Yorker article “Musical Gold” by Rebecca Mead. Or watch the YouTube video, “The Secrets of the Violin.” Both feature Florian Leonhard.
Warren’s talk aims to give us some sense of what’s involved in the work that he does—the tricks of his trade. He will bring with him some examples of his work.
Come early and do some shopping!