As you know I am always on the lookout for inspiration. This can literally be found anywhere: nature, books, movies, etc. But works by other craftsmen and -women often prove to be the best examples.
Like this “Boerenwagen” (Farmers-wagon) encountered at an event in my hometown. It was made by Toon Wortel, from Eemnes (about 30 km from here). He is one of the few wagon makers and wheelwrights left in the Netherlands. Toon has been making new and restoring old wagons for over 55 years. I have known him for a couple of years now, and can surely say he is a craftsman of which there aren’t many alive anymore; combining an enormous amount of knowledge of wood- and metalworking, with a passion for historical wagons and a great love for horses.
As can be seen in this short movie. Unfortunately only in Dutch without subtitles, but the images are largely self-explanatory. (And it’s a great opportunity to get acquainted with the Dutch language…)
The intricate woodcarvings on this wagon are typical for 19th century Dutch Wagons. Often owned by rich farmers, who used them to show off their wealth.
The Sellas Theorbo
When making bespoke instruments, I always ask the customer for something personal they would like to include in the instrument. A piece of material that has some special meaning to them, decoration that fits both the player as the instrument.
For Jannemieke’s theorbo after the Brussels’ Sellas I was looking for something special to do with the decoration. All pieces of the puzzle fell into place when I saw Toon’s wagon. The floral and leave patterns reminded me of the little leaves in the Sellas rose and on the ends of the bridge…
At the Zotte Zaterdag I asked Jannemieke what she thought of the pictures and wether she would like something in this style on the back of the neck extension. We agreed on a sort of ‘tree of life’ pattern in the style of the wagon decorations.
I first drew a meandering line on the back of the neck, as the stem of the tree. Then leaves and flowers were added, modelled after the wagon examples.
After the sketch was ready I put the neck aside for a couple of days, but sometimes looked at it and made some quick corrections. A week later I was satisfied, the final shapes were drawn in red pencil…
…and carving could start.
I think the back of the neck extension is a great canvas for some decorations. Especially because it doesn’t immediately catch the eye of the public at a concert. But it gives a nice visual surprise when the player walks away or changes instrument. I like it when instruments contain some pieces you don’t encounter at first glance.