Lute making summer school
August 5th - 13th 2006

Workshop picture

The Workshop

This was the seventh summer school we've run based on the idea of jointly making one lute in a week. The lute is then donated to the Lute Society for use as a hire instrument. In the past we have made a six course renaissance lute, a 13 course ‘swan-neck’ German baroque lute, a 14 course theorbo, a six course bass lute, an eleven course baroque lute and a seven course tenor lute. This year we were making a 14 course liuto attiorbato. It is an opportunity to learn in practical terms how to make a lute and to take part in the different processes. This is only an initial report. This year, partly because it was such an ambitious undertaking, there were far fewer photos taken and not all of those are yet to hand.

The aim was also to have a nice time!
01.jpg (131 K) The select band gathers behind the little pile of wood that will make up a liuto attiorbato. From left to right: Francesco Contò from Italy, John Butterfield from Seattle, USA, Urs Gantenbein from Switzerland, Thea Abbott our chef and mistress of ceremonies who was suffering this year from a badly infected hand, Nicholas Eterodossi from France, Hannah Southon who stepped in and managed the catering for Thea, Tim Southon, her father and David. This year, because the lute has 17 ribs, I had to put on the first few if we were to have a chance of finishing it in the week.
02.jpg (99 K) The only photo of the early stages of rib fitting, here Francesco is planing the edge of the bent ebony rib. In fact everyone fitted two ribs each, one white (hornbeam) and one black (ebony).
04.jpg (43 K) Nicholas drilling out the lower pegbox in the extension.
05.jpg (73 K) Urs measuring the veneer for the extension front.
03.jpg (72 K) Urs assembling part of the veneers for the front of the extension. This instrument is decorated throughout with black and white veneer, very time-consuming but very striking.
06.jpg (107 K) We had the now traditional visits from other makers and players, a chance to network and socialise. The visitors here are Lynda Sayce who gave a wonderful concert in a medieval building in Norwich as part of the week, Ian Harwood the President of the Lute Society, Martin Bowers from Maldon and Peter Forrester from Aylmerton. Malcolm Prior also visited but left no photographic trace!
07.jpg (70 K) Martin Bowers discussing shortbread with John.
08.jpg (120 K) Food and wine has always been quite a feature of these summer schools. Perhaps surprising we ever manage to finish a lute. From left to right, Thea, David, Nicolas, Urs, Francesco and John
09.jpg (78 K) One of the pleasures of the week is when someone picks up an instrument and plays.
10.jpg (82 K) A rare photo of Roy Reich from Berlin who arrived late, left early and seemed somewhat camera shy.
11.jpg (70 K) David and Lynda.
12.jpg (46 K) Francesco trims the soundboard down to the ribs. Notice the foam wrapping protecting the end of the neck and its pegbox joint.
13.jpg (55 K) David
14.jpg (38 K) Nicolas and Francesco working on the extension, preparing it to be joined to the lute in the background.
15.jpg (55 K) The rose was worked on by everyone equally and yet the result doesn’t look anything like a committee job! It is a copy of the “original” rose which is probably not original.
16.jpg (195 K) Cleaning the excess glue from the ebony edging with an old toothbrush dipped in hot water.
17.jpg (64 K) Urs holding the nearly finished lute.
18.jpg (85 K) Hannah Southon, our wonderful cook for the week.
19.jpg (100 K) The whole of the seventh cavalry, the Southon family, who came to our rescue after Thea’s hand made it impossible for her to cook.
20.jpg (74 K) A lot of things have changed since we started these summer workshops; the advent of broadband internet search seems to mean less reading from the library and more Googling.
21.jpg (62 K) Trimming the edge of the fingerboard on the nearly completed lute.
22.jpg (71 K) The cross-section of the lute is very typical of Matteo Sellas’ work. It does mean some very strange shaped ribs and some extreme bending, but when they are all together it looks a very harmonious shape.
23.jpg (72 K) John holds the lute and seems to offer it to the heavens!
24.jpg (89 K) The final group photo on the last day, all very tired but the lute is more or less finished and even has a couple of strings on.
25.jpg (80 K) Francesco holds the lute after dinner on the last evening.
26.jpg (102 K) Urs gets to grips with the only two strings. When fully strung it will have 28.
27.jpg (102 K) John looking like a real lute-player; a pity there were only two strings!
28.jpg (115 K) Nicolas looking very pleased as he holds the “baby”.
29.jpg (44 K) The lutemaker’s friend through the ages! Plus ça change.

Report on 1999 summer schoolReport on 2000 summer school
Report on 2001 summer schoolReport on 2002 summer school
Report on 2003 summer schoolReport on 2005 summer school