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Making a violin.
A journey into the unkown.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (69 votes) 
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Gordon Shumway
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Peter said

I can tentatively recommend Touchstone Tonewoods 

I bought some bone blanks for guitar bridges from them once (nearly 10 years ago). They seemed very good.

Andrew

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Peter
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Andrew,

I bought a Maya Strat neck and a generic ash Strat body from them, along with tuners, pickups and a hardtail bridge back in the early 1980s. I believe they even then had a relationship with Stentor (across town) who were the UK importers of Maya guitars. The shop / warehouse was wonderful; full of body blanks, neck blanks, sheets and veneers and it smelled gorgeous.

I built the Strat using a sheet of brass to make my own pickguard. It played well and I was thoroughly smitten by my first home-assembled guitar, but had to let it go when I fell on hard times. One of life's regrets.

Apologies to Colin for hijacking his thread! I have to tentatively recommend Touchstone because I haven't dealt with them in forty years; I just trust that they will be useful to you as a UK source of violin wood. I'm only 35 miles from Reigate, but I have long held a policy of making and mending instruments using wood reclaimed from unloved or end-of-life furniture. My solid fiddle, my 22" micro-bass and the core beam of my semi-acoustic guitar's body were made from the same yellow pine bed-frame. I make nuts, saddles, thumb-rests etc. from either holly wood or cherry-plum harvested form our garden trees and dried aloft in our garage.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Hi,

Thanks Peter. I never ask for favours from anyone the payback is too large although I've done lots of favours for others using my own resources; materials and even money never charging a penny but when I need help aliens must have visited and abducted everyone.

Large wooden frame saws can be bought through eBay for as little as £12 but as you rightly say it would be very easy indeed to put together such a saw and as to a blade I could buy say a 1" wide bandsaw blade with any number of teeth either wood or metal cutting and out of one bandsaw blade could make a number of blades; round the ends for safety and add an hole at each end; I was thinking of this last night; I like to make my own tools whenever possible; the book might have ideas too. I can cut to 8" deep using my sawbench by flipping the wood over and to finish the cut I could use one of my sabre reciprocating saws or even the Japanese pull saw.

I'm always very careful to be as considerate as possible regarding neighbours; I never make lots of noise before 8 am or after 6 pm; I do any heavy machining during the day and because my machines are powerful they process timber at a good pace; one of the last jobs I did required 600' of wooden moulding; I set up my 3hp Makita router with guides and simply fed the long lengths through in no time at all. I do any machining with the workshop doors closed to suppress noise.

You'll know very well Peter how expensive wood is here in the UK; joinery grade redwood is not only expensive but of poor quality; leave it in a dry warm workshop for a few says and it distorts. Hardwood is even more expensive.

Thanks also Peter for adding the thickness gauge picture; I've watched YouTube videos of these being used both freehand and bench mounted; I'll find it easy to make my own but I think I'll make a bench mounted type then I can use something like box or angle section steel for the frame; I have a welder and plenty of steel to hand.

No apology needed Peter; please feel free to hijack any of my threads; I don't mind in the least just being pleased members take the time and trouble to reply.

I'll bear in mind Touchstone. Bron and I visited a local store this morning this store used to sell a decent selection of crafting materials which Bron liked; very little crafting materials at all now though and I'm not surprised because here in the UK fewer people are interested in using their hands to make anything; sport rules; if as much resource was put into industry as is put into sport then we could be called great once again. So many places I used to buy from have now gone; years ago I wanted a 2" wide x 36" long leather honing belt for the belt tool grinder I made and after lots of searching the UK ended up buying the belt from Dallas; I've just bought the violin wood from Poland. I wanted to buy a Fein Multitop a few years ago these on the web with free next day delivery at £199.99; I wanted to support our local tool store so drove over; these machines were stacked in front of the counter but were marked up at £240 each being identical in every respect apart from price; I explained I had on me £220 cash which was declined; the machine was delivered for £199.99 the following day; I've not visited the store since but have bought quite a few expensive machines online which I now do.

It's increasingly difficult to buy what I want here locally so rather than waste time and fuel running around I just sit at my keyboard and place the order. I'm doing this for what I need regarding making a violin; visiting the craft store this morning was depressing driving through the run down area; I doubt it will get any better either and can only guess as to what things will be like in another twenty years; in the meantime I'll endeavour to do my best making the violin.

Tree-felling-Oct-2012.-9.jpgImage EnlargerTree-work-underway-Oct-2012-2.jpgImage Enlarger

We've given tons of good wood away to neighbours who own woodburners; the pictures show one of two 80' tall trees I felled and I've felled lots more shorter trees; I have considered making a kiln because local tree surgeons can usually be heard working nearby; I've used local holly for woodturning and it's a lovely dense wood to work with; I believe willow can be used on violin's and I've felled and disposed of a big willow tree; I'll keep my eyes open for old scaffolding boards these often made of spruce but I'd want them without lots of knots so would need to be choosy. I've got two 20" petrol chainsaws which have seen lots of action.

Our kitchen is mostly made from Meranti offcuts I bought by the car load; it took twenty years before I considered the kitchen finished but who would know how little in money it cost and it's solid hardwood.

It's poured with rain today and has been very dark and miserable; I don't feel like doing anything at the moment but I think I've got a clear day tomorrow so I'll shake off this feeling of doom and gloom and cheer myself up in the workshop. thumbs-up

Kind regards, Colin.

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Retired said
when I need help aliens must have visited and abducted everyone.

err, present company excepted.coffee

Andrew

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Gordon Shumway said

Retired said

when I need help aliens must have visited and abducted everyone.

err, present company excepted.coffee

  

Hi,

Well said Andrew; I should have added neighbours I've helped so much in the past are never near when I need help they simply disappear. thumbs-up

I've enjoyed lots of help through forums during many years and try to give a little back by way of thanks.

I've just enjoyed a practice session with both my violins and out of curiosity I closed my eyes; I must be improving with using the bow because I did well on the E string using four fingers whilst supporting the neck with the tip of my thumb. Two months ago I'd never touched a violin but now violins have taken over my life and thoughts; I enjoy a new challenge.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Peter
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coffee

Cheers gentlemen (and all lurkers..) - practice calls.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Hi,

I've just enjoyed pottering around in the workshop pulling out from stock items I might need. My last job before retirement was working for an electric motor manufacturing company this being a huge company supplying motors all over the world. The biggest perk of working there were the skips (dumpsters) I enjoyed raiding and the huge stores. I never ever took anything without permission and I was allowed to raid the skips but the central stores often had a clear out of very useful items I could use; the store staff knew of my workshop interests and they set up a shelf specially for me; anything on the shelf I could have free of charge including boxes containing thousands of set screws and bolts etc. In the shaft department there were two bins containing short bar ends one bin stainless steel the second bin mild steel these being regarded as scrap but perfect for me; I used to work link shift until 9pm and I would cruise on the fork truck to see what goodies had been left out for me by the day staff.

I was generously given permission to bring home motors that were regarded as scrap; colleagues were on the lookout for these and would kindly tip me off; one day two very high quality inverter rated 1.5hp motors had been discarded from the load test department; these are now powering two of my lathes. The "World Series" motors were being introduced meaning many prototypes; I had permission to take as many as I liked again totally free of charge once they had gone through research and load test but only if I promised never to sell any of them to which I was happy to agree so twenty years after retirement my workshop is very well stocked indeed.

Just before Covid I made friends with who is the owner of a metal spinning company; at the time I was just starting to learn metal spinning; he took me under his wing and other than my lovely wife Bron he was generous to a fault; from the very first contact he set me up with aluminium spinning blanks; lubricant and even three professional metal spinning tools all totally free of charge even though I had told him up front I wasn't after favours having a lot of cash on me; since then I've done work to repay his kindness; later visits he generously gave me sheet aluminium; such people these days are extremely rare.

This now has a lot to do with making my violin because I don't need to shop around for items to make violin clamps or sheet material to make violin templates from also I've pulled out two lengths of black iron box section; I've got the wood and now I have lots of items I'll need.

Violin-making_0002_02.JPGImage Enlarger

A selection of 6; 8 & 10mm dia bolts and rods; I measured the thickness of both my violins where the clamps will be needed and this on both is 1.5"; when I start to make the clamps I'll firstly have a look on YouTube to see what others have made saving me time experimenting.

Violin-making_0003_01.JPGImage Enlarger

Measuring calipers I use on the woodturning lathe for checking thickness.

Violin-making_0004_01.JPGImage Enlarger

4' x 2' sheet aluminium I'll be using to make templates from together with the box section steel.

Violin-making_0005_01.JPGImage Enlarger

My excellent quality DTI (Dial test indicator) I think I can use this for measuring plate thickness; I use this a lot on my metal turning lathe but it will be ideal for use on the violin.

Violin-making_0006_01.JPGImage Enlarger

Rough black iron mild steel box section this at 1" square.

Violin-making_0007_01.JPGImage Enlarger

The same box section after being cleaned up with 60 grit abrasive paper to remove mill scale and oil etc. I have both 1" square and 1.5" x 1" rectangular box section; I should be able to make a very solid bench mounted thickness gauge using these together with the DTI but as yet I don't know the size I need to make it. I can easily weld this to make the frame.

I'm sure everything will fall into place and I'll try to add as much detail as possible as work progresses; I'm now off to a good start.

WOW; Hermes has just delivered the Stradivarius book and I've had a quick look through it; great news the full set of violin plans are not only included but are full size; I've also noticed full size plans to make the tools needed. I'm happy.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Hi Colin,

It is gratifying as it is remarkable that so many businesses allow so much material to be repurposed by their employees; in my time in electronics spanning over forty years I have had the opportunity to (legally) remove an embarras de richesse of components and equipment. My current employer (and probably my final) disposed of their entire electronic development stock back in 2005, and I was asked to back my car up to the door and fill it. As a radio amateur, this proved an enormous gift. Two years ago I finished with radio to concentrate on music, and much of the stock was now a liability so I brought it all back into my laboratory at work for the benefit of others who would want to use it. There are hobbyists among my engineering team who make their own instrument amplifiers and effects pedals.

In the '80s I worked for the UK arm of Rockwell Collins, a very famous US radio manufacturer. Their skips and redundant stock cupboards were a radio ham's dream.

I'm very pleased to see you have your Stradivarius book. I'm hoping you will continue these updates on your violin journey, and perhaps you'll consider compiling them into a book for the enjoyment and edification of others.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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You got the book for a good price, Colin - the one on Amazon is £80.

I recommend Toby Faber's book - it's a good, cheap, easy read.

The Cambridge Companion to the Violin has pros and cons, but it's good if you can get it cheap. A con is that it's quite old now - no mention of carbon bows (afaicr).

Andrew

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Hi,

Thanks Peter; what a lovely story and one I can relate to. Over the years I've found being cheeky helps in obtaining materials as offcuts; I've often just popped into a local business like our local joinery company asking if they had offcuts that I was happy to pay for not wanting to be a scrounger; I've come away with large section Oak; Meranti and Ash etc a car load for £25 cash; just to buy one of these pieces at a woodturning supplier would more than the £25; unfortunately lots of places have closed including favourite scrap yards I used to love to visit taking Bron along on a summers day just for a ride out; Bron was always happy to remain in the car reading a girlie mag whilst I scrambled around for anything useful; I always take along Hi-Vis safety kit and plenty of tools because things like starters and contactors cost a great deal bought retail but are extremely cheap when paying as scrap on weight alone.

I'm always very polite but sometimes a company would rather send offcuts to the scrap yard than sell them to me which is a shame but I always respect their choice and apologize for troubling them. I've bought very heavy section steel box section; angle and channel on weight alone but have had to clean it up before use; it works out a fraction of the cost of new steel. We have a local "K Steels" I buy new steel from; there is a £25 minimum spend but our local model makers store charges four times as much; it pays to keep ones eyes open.

Thanks for your kind suggestion but I simply don't have time to compile a book; this has been suggested on other forums but I find it time consuming just posting on forums although I enjoy this feeling I'm giving a bit back rather than just accepting help from other members; we all have a story to tell. Yes I hope to keep updating as progress unfolds.

Thanks Andrew; I did compare book prices and grabbed this wonderful Stradivarius book; the book and plans are in excellent condition; the plans are superb and I've no intention of using these in the workshop but want to fully preserve them together with the book; Bron and I will be popping out to have the complete plans copied and printed and these will be the ones I'll use and whilst having them printed I'll order two sets. My printer isn't big enough but I've had radio circuit diagrams printed at little cost previously; I need to check if the stores are still trading. I keep saying I'm forever chasing time; I like a challenge but learning to play and to make a violin from scratch is pushing it a bit; I also want to spend a lot of time with Bron who's company I enjoy above all else; we're only here once and I'm fortunate in having such a wonderful wife.

I'll have a look at the books you recommend Andrew; I'm sure I've got lots of reading ahead with just the book I've already bought; pity I can't buy time. Once I get the violin plans copied then I can move onto making the various templates which I'm very much at home with.

The sun has just appeared after rain coming down like pencils most of the afternoon; it's got a cheek. facepalm

Kind regards, Colin.

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Colin, you should probably subscribe to a small number of youtube channels such as this one - not too many, or watching them will sap your time and energy!

Andrew

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Something else, Colin - are the plans for an original Strad with a shallow neck slope or for one that was modified in the 19th century to have a steeper slope? If it's for an original, that might cause you problems.

Andrew

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Gordon Shumway said
Something else, Colin - are the plans for an original Strad with a shallow neck slope or for one that was modified in the 19th century to have a steeper slope? If it's for an original, that might cause you problems.

  

I believe there was also an issue with the neck length, with many early instruments having a graft inserted in the early 19th century. Would this make a difference between book / plan editions?

https://maestronet.com/forum/i.....eck-graft/

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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Hi,

Thanks Andrew for your suggestion of subscribing to YouTube channels; we already do this especially to woodturners but as you rightly say they run away with time; we've watched lots of Olaf's videos; he's good. We're Premium subscribers to YouTube costing around £12 monthly so we can watch not only lots of these excellent tutorials but also everything else we fancy without adverts; 95% of our TV viewing is YouTube and if we didn't have YouTube I'm sure I'd brick our telly.

Oh dear Andrew and Peter; you've really made my day regarding doubts over my violin neck length and angle just what I needed on top of everything else but I do truly appreciate you bringing this up so I can do a bit of research during the violin build and I'm obliged for the information.

Run away and fight another day sums up my day today because I've run away from this violin build in disgust this afternoon. Yesterday afternoon and this morning I spent ages on the web looking for stores that could copy and print to A2 size; whilst restoring vintage radio's I used both local "Staples" and a store in Holmfirth that I could pop into and have printing done whilst I waited and very cheaply too; both have now gone and it's been proving a nightmare trying to get these A2 sized violin plans copied and printed.

I loaded the car first thing this morning and did a trip to the tip; not the nicest of journeys only 12 miles there and back but just plain hassle. Back home and onto these violin plans; if I wanted business cards and even large banners no problem but finding a local place that could do a simple job like copying and printing these plans was just a joke; lots of online will do it but I'm not letting these plans out of my sight after spending £45 to get hold of them; it took a month just to get the wood with my luck.

I then came up with what I thought a good idea; why not just scan and print but I only have a mono laser A4 printer but I could scan a bit at a time then join up so I set about doing this; my desk space is limited so I set up the scanner on the carpet; great I was now getting somewhere at last and without leaving home so I was pleased.

It was hassle but at least I was doing something other than just being frustrated and moaning. All went well and I printed off then took the prints into the studio and cut them out; I was concentrating very hard indeed making a top job of getting everything perfect which I did; having finally succeeded and pleased with myself I stood back and there's something really wrong; these look small: they were about 2" too short.

Time now to walk away and leave well alone because with this kind of bad luck my day wasn't going to improve and I wasn't prepared to make it easier for more to go wrong.

After dinner I did something good; I took Bron over to Boundary Mills in Sheffield; I'd asked Bron if she fancied anything at all and with this offer she said a new handbag would be nice; we've just returned home and Bron is delighted with her new Radley  leather handbag; it pleased me a great deal to see her happy so although my day was going so badly it turned out not so bad in the end.

Violin-making_0001_04.JPGImage Enlarger

Having spent so long to reach this stage and being happy only to have my bubble burst; I hadn't noticed the drawings were smaller than the originals until I'd fully taped them and stood back; at first I wondered if the original drawing were this size but no I was right; hours wasted but actually although I'm not happy with this outcome I've gained experience. I don't just suffer bad luck but Bron also does too; Bron is into crafting and we've very recently visited three stores we've bought lots of crafting items from; no longer though two of the stores have dropped their craft section the third store a much reduced craft section so it would appear to stop wasting time and just go online. So many places have closed that we've visited for years; Covid has definitely taken it's toll but also fewer people these days want to do hobbies.

When I start a project I never let go until I succeed; today has been bad but when it gets like this I dig in because I'm downright stubborn; these are just setbacks but I'm resilient and if I still can't locate a printer I'll play around with "Gimp" photo editing and I can scale up or down as needed; bad luck go away because you won't beat me.

Kind regards, Colin.

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It's a great pity Olaf isn't a better violinist - his demos are not all that convincing!

Andrew

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Came intothis thread late so not sure if this is any good to you, to copy plans buy an artists pad at whatever size you need from an art shop, and also at the same time buy tracing paper at whatever size you need.

If you want full size plans cheap, to save messing about with up or down scaling here is a link. 

https://www.folkcraft.com/prod.....iolin-plan

Good luck, on my way to watch get up stand up, the new marley musical now.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Hi Colin et al,

Quite a day you had there. I've always been highly self-reliant, but the world at present is becoming very challenging.

Lovely to read that you took time out from the saga of the violin to treat your good lady to a new handbag; it reminded me I should pay similar respect to my wife and spend more time with her and less with the basses and fiddles.

Tracing paper! Obvious, but not always remembered; top tip, @stringy. My wife, Pam, uses tracing paper on her PC monitor to take drawing outlines from her digital photos of wildlife for her artworks. She's a very analogue-world kind of gal; we've bought her digitiser pads and scanners and provided her with all the art software but she always reverts to her pencils, acrylics and inks.

A Marley musical? I'll search it, or is this a physical (i.e. not a non-fungible) presentation?. It was Ziggy's birthday on Sunday.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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@Peter Its just started a run in the west end,  the bloke who played Marley was brilliant, if You closed Your eyes he sounded exactly like him, highly rated show, all the hits played as part of his life story, packed out Theatre, its well worth watching.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Hi,

Thanks Andrew; I find Olaf interesting and entertaining; he obviously has a great deal more skill in playing and making violins than I have at present; Bron and I are watching lots of violin videos on YouTube; Bron says she wouldn't mind having a go with drums?

Thanks stringy for your useful and infomative reply. I already have tracing paper and I've got lots of printer paper in fact I've just bought 500 sheets of HP printer paper this morning and for anything big I want to draw I can use wallpaper lining paper. However I don't want to play around with these original plans not even to use for tracing or even use with carbon paper; I do appreciate the suggestion though and it's a good one.

Thanks also stringy for the Folkcraft link; I looked at this site a short while ago it in the US; the violin plans are cheap enough at only £9 and cheap enough to cut as templates; the reason I didn't go forward was that I added the plans to the bsket but at this point no shipping cost had been declared; I had to submit my email address etc in order to find out the total cost so I backed off because I'm very keen regarding online security; however with your prod I decided to try again and gave my details; here's the result;

Shipping-plans-from-US..JPGImage Enlarger

£9 for the plans but £18 for shipping and as seen a typical two week wait but could be months due to Covid. I did post earlier stating I'd looked at buying the colioured finger board stickers these too from the US and only costing $3.50 but shipping was a huge $59.50. This morning having not gone ahead with the £9 order I've received an email chasing the order to which I've politely replied explaining the the shipping problem to the UK.

The world is as you rightly say Peter challenging in fact it's becoming a downright pain. So may guys take their wife/partner for granted; Bron comes first with me above all else and is the reason why it's always good to get out of bed each day; I don't mind telling the world I love her to bits and thoroughly enjoy her company; she's been my best friend since first meeting her 46 years ago we've been married 45 years.

I agree tracing paper is highly useful as is carbon paper; I'm just stubborn and want to keep both this book and the original plans in top condition whilst they are in my care; it's causing me problems but I'm not in a hurry and problems can be overcome.

Yesterday afternoon I phoned around our local printing compnies one only a mile away from us; all could esily print to A2 size and even much larger but not one of them could copy or scan an original A2 size; one kindly suggested trying an architects office which on face value makes sense but why would such an office need to copy when they already have drawn up the details on their computer. Each of the companies would be more than happy to print if I could supply digital images which takes me back to scanning or copying; it's fun isn't it these days getting basic things done that were taken for granted only a few years ago.

Years ago I wanted to increase the size of the bungalow numbers I'd printed out onto A4 paper; I cut these out and having placed lining paper on the bench then supported the numbers above the lining paper I then hung from the ceiling a single 60W light bulb on a string allowing it's height to be adjusted; the shadow was adjusted to the size I wanted and I simply drew around the shadow edge; it worked a treat.

I've been at the keyboard since doing the shopping this morning catching up on mail and also a guy from another forum emailed asking for advice regarding buying a metal turning lathe which I spent quite a bit of time on; dinnertime is imminent so the mornings gone. I'll suucceed with sorting the plans out and now I'm considering it just another small project to focus on; I've got a few ideas including using CAD but I'll update.

Thanks everyone for your continuing support and replies.

Kind regards, Colin.

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ELCBK
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October 22, 2021 - 9:23 pm
Member Since: June 10, 2020
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@Retired -

I don't envy your sizing problems - had similar issues, years ago. 

I'd draw a design on vellum for large pieces of glass I would carve into.  Usually, I'd sandblast part of the design from the front and part on the back - maybe even part on a separate piece of glass for 3 layers.  For extra large projects, my design might flow across several pieces of glass side-by-side, so I really needed my patterns to line up perfectly!  I'd take my vellum to a Kinko's here (self-serving copy shop), run them through for several 1:1 copies, get back to my shop & find they were distorted near the ends or even smaller overall!  I ended up having to double check to see if the copy machine I used was calibrated correctly (that only cost me time), then make extra copies to splice, cutting off the distorted design ends of the copy paper. 

All in all, I got the process down quickly, because just about all of my glass artwork was large - but was sure thinking I could've traced the WHOLE thing out quicker by hand!   

I have no doubt you'll get it all together, soon. 😊

Loved to hear that you & Bron have been together so long! 

 

Hard to believe Kevin and I have been together for 42 of the 43 years we've known each other.  Pretty amazing for me on 2 counts: I was surprised to find it was possible to love someone even more each year, and certainly never expected ANYONE could put up with all my nonsense for this long! (lol) 

- Emily

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