Campanella Strings

I make violins and mandolins by hand. When I'm not working on instruments, I play them, draw them, and write about them. Here are some of my recent works and work in progress. Enjoy! Joe C.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Concert Pictures

Guests of Honor in the front row: John Moroz, Tree Cleary, Aunt Roddy, Uncle Bill.

A few words...

Music! Jamie Masefield did a great job arranging a variety of solo music, representing different styles, techniques and tone color. At this point the instrument had been strung up for about 50 hours, and spoke with a full voice, reaching the back of the crowded room with ease.

A short slide show which included many photos from this blog, and a few others. More or less, "How I made this mandolin."

Standing room only at the Firehouse Gallery (final count: 130). So many friends and family. It felt simply amazing.

Jamie and I picked a couple of tunes together at the end. What a guy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Out of my hands now...

It's up to Jamie to breathe some music into the grant instrument now. I feel like I just gave up a baby for adoption. Actually, it'll be back on Thursday after the concert. I've been trying to hold back on gushing on about sound and tone and volume and stuff, and I'll admit it's getting hard. Sound is difficult stuff to put into words so I won't try to cram it into the blogosphere. Here are some pics that are worth a thousand words--mostly, "I'm done!".

Concert Handbill

Here's the handbill and poster design I came up with. The f-hole was originally pen and ink, using a really large "steel brush" type nib. I drew about 30 of 'em and picked this one.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Well I've been at it since Saturday, and things are starting to shape up and the color is done. Tomorrow afternoon or evening I'll give it a coat of clear copal varnish and let it dry until it's time to set up, a few days. I've made an ebony pickguard in the meantime and worked on concert details. Jamie came to the shop on Monday to pick up an instrument to practice on and we took a walk down to the Firehouse Gallery. This is why I love working downtown--lunch, unconventional music venues, the post office and warm weather wackos all within spitting distance of Church St. But I digress. The Point sounded great! A little bouncy/reverby, but it'll be soaked up by the audience. It's one of those great spaces for solo music, like a dorm stairwell or train station, where the notes last a little bit and the space in between is delicious.
These pics were taken with my new camera, though I haven't yet unleashed all 5.1 million pixels at once yet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

waiting for the new camera...but...

I thought I'd back-post some pics that weren't included from previous tasks. Here are a few from last week:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

beyond the big push

On Saturday afternoon I began varnishing the instrument after five very full days of completing the white work. Needless to say, I was beat-tired and ecstatic all at once. I set out directly for the Champlain Valley Folk Festival to show some other instruments, and had a great weekend, the highlight of which was a pretty free-form jam with Rashaad Eggleston, Larry Unger, Jeremiah McClane and some other folks. It was a perfect musical ending to my week of intense work. Late Friday night, I discovered that my HP Photosmart camera, which has served me and this project so well had up and died on the tripod, lens hanging out like a tired dog's tongue. So, therefore no new pics since then. Before it died, however, I got this self portrait of a late night break from neck setting.
HP is sending me a replacement w/in 24hrs, so I hope to show the varnish process, though I'm now getting to the color-stage: looking good.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Getting Close... a coat of varnish on this sucker. I've been loathe to put down my tools and aim the camera, but am trying to remember to do so now and again. Last night and the night before I worked 'til 2:00am (my new quitting time) in order to start varnish by the weekend. Yesterday I shaped braces, glued the top, bent and glued back linings, profiled the headstock and drilled for tuners, shaped and glued the fingerboard, inlaid the headstock and side dots, graduated the back, flattened the rib structure (new linings) and probably did a few things my muddled mind has blocked. Suffice it to say it was quite productive...