Contact Philip

Call 0422 945 752 

or email philip@atelierphilipsmith.com

Woobys Lane
Battery Point, TAS, 7004
Australia

+61 (0) 422945752

Philip Smith is a master maker of stringed instruments and their bows. A master of refined artistry and exquisite tones from his master crafted bows and instruments. One of Australia's finest luthiers!

VIOLIN VIOLA CELLO DOUBLE BASS AND BOWS

LUTHIER ARCHETIER

INSTRUMENT MAKER BOW MAKER

HOBART. TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

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Maker Restorer Repairs Sales of Violin Viola Cello Double Bass and their Bows
Traditional and Baroque
Tasmania Australia

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Baguettes

Philip Smith

It's been another long time between posts, I'm sure you've been missing me terribly. However, as I am constantly being reminded, everything in this business takes a long time.

My

pernambuco

baguettes arrived from the US last week. This endangered wood is only available because it is reclaimed from floorboards, fence posts etc in Brazil. Ordered from the Government approved registered pernambuco dealer in Brazil three months ago, they had to sit in New York awaiting inspection by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for two months before being released. They arrived in Australia complete with a permit from the "Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora" to be held up at Australian Customs for a fortnight. It was not the authenticity or provenance that the Oz Customs were concerned about, but how much GST to charge. Such a frustrating process. Luckily the dealer sent extra baguettes, in this wondrous array of tones, to compensate for the delay. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to include the four bass sticks, which are the items I really need to get started on, so here we go again. Like I said, nothing in my business happens quickly.

With the completion of all my Churchill Fellowship commitments - the report handed in, speech made etc., I was given this medallion by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Thanks Winston, or should I say " Merci!" (although he isn't looking too happy about it, is he? )

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Since I got back from France, full of the joys of bow making, two instrument commissions presented themselves. The first is for a smallish viola, my version of a Guadagnini, seen here with the first coat of coloured varnish. Now comes the tricky part of applying the darker colours. The viola was played by the owner in the white and was greatly appreciated for its tone, quick response and ergonomics.

This white violin, minus the neck which I am still making, is my trusted Guarneri 'del Gesu' model. This one should be ready to try in the white shortly. It's my violin number 12.

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Now back to my recently acquired new skills. This is a partially finished bass frog, awaiting the pernambuco stick. Made from ebony, Sterling silver and mother of pearl, this is for my first bow commission from my long suffering mentor and double bass teacher. Hopefully his patience will soon be rewarded.

Archetier

Philip Smith

Well, I am back from my travels but I am not sure that you could say I have actually 'landed' yet. Apart from the jet lag, the bowmaking adventures of the last 7 weeks have kept me flying.

You may notice I have changed my profile to read "Bow maker and luthier...". I have made my first bow, or as my new French friends would say " Mon premier archet". The journey to France and to the world of bow makers and bows was an amazing adventure. I had a feeling before I went that bow making was for me and, happily, I was right. It's brilliant! The combination of woodworking, metal working, jewellery making and sculpting required to create these amazing things hit just the right note for me. If I was French, which now I wish I was, I would shrug my shoulders and scowl slightly in that inimitable, off-hand Gallic style and say "Oui..., its good for me."

The bow making journey began in Paris with a chance drop in on luthier James Chauvelin. His atelier happened to be close to where we were staying. As it turned out a double bass specialist as well. He offered me a very warm welcome and a tour of his beautiful collection of instruments/bows. While perusing his Bows and Basses two of France and Norway's best bassists arrived and I quickly handed the bass I was playing over to these formidable bassists, and listened to the show. We also spent a considerable amount of time discussing Basses, bows, restoration, setup and a whole lot of other luthier secrets they were only to happy to share.

There are many more stories to tell but now a huge 'Merci, merci, merci" has to be given to

Jean-luc Tauziede

and his family who welcomed me so warmly, Jean-luc thanks for teaching me so well and sharing your passion and your bow making secrets . Also thanks to

Patrice Taconne

, Sylvain Bigot,

Sandrine and Jean-Francois Raffin

,

Gilles Duhaut

,

James Chauvelin

,

Christian Laborie

and all the other archetiers and luthiers who gave up their time, knowledge, bows and instruments so freely and generously.

And to the

Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

- thank you, thank you, thank you. The opportunities the Trust provides to Australians, to get out into the world to make connections and to garner knowledge and skills unavailable on our home shores is immeasurable in the good it does the individuals, their professional communities and all of us as a result.

Au revoir! Bon Voyage!

Philip Smith

I know, I know, a long time between posts, but things have been tres busy around here. It took some time to get going on a new instrument after last year's cello frenzy. Now she has begun to take shape. Once the ribs are done you get a much better idea of the instrument's form. The

Francois Rabbath Quenoil Double Bass.

Aside from organising our upcoming French Odyssey, much scratching away on orchestral excerpts has been done by my good self in preparation for an audition for the

new Tasmanian Discovery Orchestra

. I am happy to say that I was successful and now I am 'primed to make the big bucks' as a professional orchestral musician when I get back from France. The orchestra's first concert will be in April and my first gig with them will be in June. While it will not, in fact, make me rich, I am looking forward to playing. See you there.

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Ok, so as of this Friday we will be jet-setting our way across the globe to begin the Smith French Bow making Odyssey. Wish me luck as I have managed to master only two phrases in French, neither of which have anything to do with bow making. But they will know my name and where I am from, if they can comprehend my Tasmanian French accent.

I will attempt to keep you posted on the blog as to our adventures. I will update while recovering form a hard day in the workshop with a nice local fromage and a big glass of Bordeaux's finest.

Back on Monday the 24 May!

This could be you - check out the

Churchill Trust website

.

S"il vous plait

Philip Smith

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So, it's been a while between posts but the story remains basically the same. Still cello making but loads of progress has been made.

Cello No. 6 is being varnished and is beautiful. This one is a lighter colour than the others. Golden yellow with a coat or two of warm brown have made this honey glow. Funny stuff varnish, you never know quite how its going to turn out. Its part of the alchemy that goes into the complete instrument and its bloody hard work to get it right. 

Plans for the trip to France stalled until contact was made with

Jean Luc Tauziede,

master archetier,  who has willingly agreed to take me on for four weeks of training in the art of the French bow. How exciting! Such an honour to be learning from such a master craftsman. Next April is the planned departure time. 

It was very daunting  but great to speak to Jean Luc. The conversation highlighted the need  to get some French language skills together. The Tasmanian accent was a challenge  for him. Not sure how far " Je m'appelle Phillippe." will take me.  There is a  story about a friend of a friend who went around Paris with the simple request - " S'il vous plait pie?" ( with the 'pie' pronounced 'poy').  Not sure how far he got with that.

Cello No. 7 is in a collection of parts but will be taken on its own unique identity very shortly. 

Who's your Gov'ner then?

Philip Smith

Apologies for the lack of blog posts, things have been a little busy in my neck of the woods. Cello No. 5 is finished and off to its owner in Hobart very soon. She is a beauty.

Speaking of Hobart, I had to pop down there a couple of weeks ago to receive my fellowship award from the

Governor

. Very nice event it was too - apart from the strangely abrupt version of the national anthem they played on the Governor's arrival, it was literally the first couple of bars then cut to the last couple. They call it "the Royal Salute"! The

Mayor

of our small town and his wife even travelled south to be at the presentation which was very kind of them. The fellowship dinner followed and it was great to meet other fellows, recent and past, and hear about their trips and ideas. It is an incredible opportunity so if you need info or skills which you can only get overseas, then

apply

Back to reality after my moment of glory and back to my cellos. Cello No 6 and 7 both have the ribs complete and I am now working on the tops and backs, arching and purfling. 

And I have a new motorbike -

an Aprilia Mana 850

. I am now complete. 

Fine Fellow

Philip Smith

From the Paris end of St John Street, to the Paris end of, well ....   Paris!

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Official confirmation came through today that I have been awarded a

Churchill Fellowship

to study bow making in France this year! Woohoo! I am thrilled and honoured and, quite frankly indulging in a little gloating for a minute. I have already taught my one and a half year old daughter to say "Fellow" as a regular tribute to me.

Thanks to my referees for giving me such glowing praise in the application. I am sure it is thanks to you that the application was successful. 

It's really excellent news and now the adventure of planning the trip begins. My mind keeps drifting towards figuring out how I can sneak as much motorcycle riding into the itinerary as possible. (Motorbikes are my other obsession.) Aside from the incredible experience and opportunity of learning the traditional craft of bowmaking from French masters, I fancy taking the opportunity to also ride a

cool bike

 through the French countryside, stopping for the occasional

fromage et baguette! Oui

!  

Back to reality, cello number five is progressing well.  It looks like a good cello to me. I'll be taking it down south for a test run in the next few days and I am confident that it will sound like a good cello as well. 

Cello number 6 and 7 have also been started.  

And now back to cellomaking ...