Violin Making Student Completes Unusual Cello Design

By Newark College
Alma Michel's Cello Front View

Alma Michel, a third year BA (Hons) Musical Instrument Crafts (Violin Making and Repair) student, has completed her third year project with an unusual Cello model with 'wavey' purfling.

Alma explains why she chose this unique model to base her final-year project on:

"When I started studying Violin Making and Repair at Newark College, I couldn’t wait to make a cello in the third year, especially because I play the cello but also because it meant a lot of understanding of making and good control of tools.

And when the question of which model I needed to choose came up last summer, I instantly thought “I will copy one of my dad’s cellos!”.

Peter Smith, our lecturer, had given us a workshop on how to measure and draw an instrument that you have on your bench. This was perfect for me, it taught me very clever tips so I could choose a cello that has never been measured and drawn onto a poster.

The purfling is what caught my eye and made me choose it straight away - wavy purfling, such a challenge! (I always wanted to make a non-classic purfling so it was the perfect opportunity).

I had made cremonese violins in my foundation and first year, and an English viola in my second year, so making a French cello in third year made sense, exploring different shapes and different ways of making instruments.

Making a cello was very exhausting physically (everything is a lot heavier, it requires bigger body movements and strength) and mentally. It is very similar to violin making but also very different because the size of it requires different methods, movements and tools.

I am so happy with the result of the finished instrument. The purfling is a lot more discreet then what I thought it would be, which is really nice, because otherwise it would be too much for the eye and could become cheap/ugly looking.

I found it quite difficult to set up, but the time and effort were worth it - it sounds so good! I did not expect such a powerful, round and even sound for a first cello."

Alma's Finished Cello
Alma's Finished Cello

Peter Smith, Violin Making and Repair tutor, added: "Alma exudes a quiet confidence in her bench work and proceeds all her making projects with a natural ability and enthusiastic commitment, which will serve her well in the professional realm.

"Her impressive grasp of new concepts and making styles are reflected in both her second year project (making a viola copy of the English maker, Benjamin Banks) and her third year cello project which she has just completed - a French model with the most unusual, and what can only be described as 'wavy' purfling, both demonstrating her ability to work independently and devise methods to execute the concept with efficiency and success."

View the stages of making the cello below:

Early Stages
Early Stages
Build Progress
Build Progress
Wavey Purfling Details
Wavey Purfling Details
Build Progress
Build Progress
Alma's Finished Cello
Alma's Finished Cello
Alma's Finished Cello
Alma's Finished Cello
Alma's Finished Cello
Alma's Finished Cello

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