David Edwards “mini-Stradivarius”

Marvellous miniature world

Craftsman David Edwards, who once played for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, gave up his career as a professional cellist to make miniatures for doll’s houses. He says he has made dozens of his 1/12 size £1,000 violins, based on a Stradivarius. “Being a musician has helped me,” he says. “Musicians have a lot of concentration, not just for normal concerts but for something like Wagner’s Meistersingers – five hours or whatever it is – there’s a lot of concentration involved.”

“The flow and line in making miniatures is rather like musical phrasing, it’s very similar. And then there’s the working on your own. If you play an instrument you have to spend thousands and thousands of hours practising, so you’re used to being solitary which is very important. It takes a few months to make each violin, partly because I’m a bit old-fashioned with the finishes I put on.”

“There’s no use putting gloss polyurethane on the violin, it just looks like a toy. I represent Italian varnish on it and it’s a thing that I invented myself… it’s got a lovely colour and you can see right down into the grain of the wood. Varnish was very, very important to the Italians and to replicate that is very difficult. Drying time is at least two weeks per coat. Don’t forget you’ve got to handle it and it can be sticky – it can’t be just touch dry.”

Mr Edwards uses a jig-saw to shape a piece of Pearwood to form the Inner Bouts of a violin; he has produced a 1/12th scale violin and bow based on Stradivarius.

A match is pictured next to a miniature chamber candlestick holder turned in hawthorn with a recycled ivory candle with silk wick made by David Edwards

A miniature Scottish Shortbread mould is pictured with a five pence piece.

“Making the violin is intricate but basically it’s got a body and it’s got a front and it’s got a back. You’ve got the neck, which includes the pegbox, which is very, very difficult to carve in miniature – it’s difficult enough to carve in full size. You have to carve very finely and I use pear wood for that. Then there’s the fingerboard which is the black thing down the front of the fiddle. The tail piece and the finger board are both made in ebony and then you’ve got to string it up. I use real sheep gut.”

A cotton reel is pictured next to a miniature 12 Spool Cotton Reel Stand turned in Pearwood with brass pins, holly reels and silk thread made by David Edwards.

“My order book for my miniatures, in general, stretched up to seven years ahead but I got to the age of 75 the other day and I thought enough’s enough. Not the making – but the people at the end of the order book clearly are not going to get it because something will happen one day. I scrapped all the orders and now I sell only from stock. Having said that, I wouldn’t cancel the orders from the people who ordered the violins because they’ve been waiting expectantly for a long time.”

“My work will be on show at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival on 3 December. I do very few of these shows, which are all over the place. Kensington is about the best in the world – it’s very, very prestigious. You can’t go into it, you have to be invited and I’ve done that for a long time. I’ve travelled all over the world with this and my wife, Roslyn, is always with me. She helps me a lot at shows. British miniatures, as far as I’m concerned, lead the world.”

Source: BBC News


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