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Claire Curtis

I live and work in a small town in southern Maine. In my workshop, I perform routine instrument repairs and not-so-routine restorations of more valuable instruments. I also make my own instruments, handcrafted in the Mittenwald tradition. My tools and techniques would not have been unfamiliar to Antonio Stradivarius himself.

I learned to make handcrafted bows in the French tradition, a method that can produce an especially fine and responsive stick. In deference to French artistry, one who makes bows is termed an "archetier".

I began repairing instruments part-time in 1990, when I took a course taught by Master Hans Nebel at the Violin Craftsmanship Institute at UNH. Over the next few years, I learned further restoration skills, and began work on bows. I first studied bow repair with Arnold Bone, and then repair and bowmaking with Lynn Hannings. In 1994, I began to study violinmaking with Mittenwald Geigenbaumeister Karl Roy.

As my interest and skills grew, I found that I grudged the time my 'day job' took away from the workshop. I eased my frustration by taking over the management of an internet discussion group for violinmakers, but finally, in 2003, I decided to go into violinmaking full time.

In 2003 and 2004, I became Karl's after-hours Assistant at the Violin Craftsmanship Institute, and attended the Oberlin Set-up Workshop, organized by David Burgess. This marvellous program gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best violin makers in the world.

In 2005, I ventured over to the "dark side", and attended the Oberlin Violin Acoustics program, organized by Fan Tao. There I had the opportunity to experiment with changing the acoustic parameters of a bridge on a Guarneri violin (the data from this experiment is included in a scientific paper by Dr. George Bissinger). The following year, I returned to the Set-Up workshop, though I kept a close eye on the exciting events happening across the hall!

During this time I was honored to spend about 4 years helping Karl Roy assemble his monumental work, "The Violin: Its History and Making", which went to the printers in August 2006.

I hope the information on this website will be interesting to beginners, afficionados, and experts alike. And remember, my instruments are for sale -- inquiries welcome!


VSA logo Member, Violin Society of America

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