Violin for Strings in the Mountains


I believe all objects, living and inanimate, have “an essence” or “a spirit.”

I was selected to produce an original artwork for the sixteenth annual Strings In The Mountains Festival of Music. I was one of sixteen artists to contribute to the “Sixteen Violins” project. As a selected artist, I was given a new violin with which to create my original artwork through decoration.

I felt the new instrument to be a child with its own spirit yet to lead its own life and wander its own path. I felt the embellishment would interfere with “essence: of the ciolin and disturb what the object was destined to be. I went instead to find an old ciolin, irreparable; unable to be used any further for the production of music.

In a third generation musical repair shop on South Broadway in Denver, under much dust, was a broken old violin. Inside was the inscription:

“Copy of Antonius Stradivarius,

Made in Checho – Slovakia, #741.”

There was a second slip of paper glued inside that read:

“Repaired & Revarnished


By A.H. Seymour, Swanton, Nebr.”

This was an object that had fulfilled its life and needed to find its way home.

I took this old violin and stipped it of extra parts, loose pieces were taped together and the wood sealed with primer. Twenty some layers of clay were applied to the body to build up a sufficient thickness and this was then placed in a kiln and fired to a temperature of 1940 degrees Fahrenheit. The fired clay shell was then fired for a second time, in an ancient manner called “pitfired”: by placing it in a bed of sawdust and wood twigs with metal oxides and sea salt for colorants. What remains is a fired clay shell’ the wood having turned to smoke and ash. What remains is now a “picture” of what was before, the spirit of the old violin had followed the smoke.

The new violin that I was originally given is now living in the Four Corners region in the hands of a music student.