Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spider silk spun into violin strings

I came across a paper in an academic journal, Physical Review Letters, which I found extremely interesting and would like to share with you. The title of the paper is called, "Spider silk violin strings with a unique packing structure generate a soft and profound timbre".

Abstract: We overcome the difficulties in pulling long draglines from spiders, twist bundles of dragline filaments and succeed in preparing violin strings. The twisting is found to change the cross section shapes of filaments from circular to polygonal, and to optimize the packing structure with no openings among filaments providing mechanically strong and elastic strings. The spider string signal peaks of overtones for the violin is relatively large at high frequencies, generating a soft and profound timbre. Such a preferable timbre is considered to be due to the unique polygonal packing structure which provides valuable knowledge for developing new type of materials.

Here is what the BBC wrote about Dr. Shigeyoshi Osaki's findings:

A Japanese researcher has used thousands of strands of spider silk to spin a set of violin strings.

The strings are said to have a "soft and profound timbre" relative to traditional gut or steel strings.

That may arise from the way the strings are twisted, resulting in a "packing structure" that leaves practically no space between any of the strands.

The strings will be described in a forthcoming edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.

Shigeyoshi Osaki of Japan's Nara Medical University has been interested in the mechanical properties of spider silk for a number of years.

In particular, he has studied the "dragline" silk that spiders dangle from, quantifying its strength in a 2007 paper in Polymer Journal.

Dr Osaki has perfected methods of obtaining large quantities of this dragline silk from captive-bred spiders and has now turned his attention to the applications of the remarkable material.

"Bowed string instruments such as the violin have been the subject of many scientific studies," he writes.

"However, not all of the details have been clarified, as most players have been interested in the violin body rather than the properties of the bow or strings."

Dr Osaki used 300 female Nephila maculata spiders - one of the species of "golden orb-weavers" renowned for their complex webs - to provide the dragline silk.

For each string, Dr Osaki twisted between 3,000 and 5,000 individual strands of silk in one direction to form a bundle. The strings were then prepared from three of these bundles twisted together in the opposite direction.

He then set about measuring their tensile strength - a critical factor for violinists wishing to avoid breaking a string in the midst of a concerto.

The spider-silk strings withstood less tension before breaking than a traditional but rarely used gut string, but more than an aluminium-coated, nylon-core string.

An electron microscope image shows a section of the bundle just 70 millionths of a metre wide A closer study using an electron microscope showed that, while the strings themselves were perfectly round, in cross-section the strands had been compressed into a range of different shapes that all fit snugly together, leaving no space between them.

Dr Osaki suggests that it is this feature of the strings that lends them their strength and, crucially, their unique tone.

"Several professional violinists reported that spider strings... generated a preferable timbre, being able to create a new music," he wrote.

"The violin strings are a novel practical use for spider silk as a kind of high value-added product, and offer a distinctive type of timbre for both violin players and music lovers worldwide."

The article contains a link to a recording of how spider silk strings sound:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Door-to-Door Traveling Violin Saleswoman

Violin making is easy compared to selling. Here is how to carry nine violins at once.

Me and my trusty 19-year old steed. The jacket I'm wearing is 30 years old. I'm classic!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

YouTube Version of the Video

Some folks had trouble loading up Vimeo. Here is YouTube version.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Video About My Violin Building

Here is a video on me and my violin building by Hughes Hall. Enjoy!

Chasha Mindlin - Luthier from Hughes Hall on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

it,s been a while because of a confusing matter between my E mail accounts.and my monitor but now I am back. have to get a scanner so I can scan pictures of my work in progress.
have embarked on a Guarneri 1733 model violin and another wonderful Storioni Viola 1789, 15,5 cm. I had made one for my son Aryeh Frankfurter and it was a great success.
currently I am arching the violin back and put the viola on the side since the a fantastic back had a sap-mark and I have to trash the wood. I was heartbroken.
the weather is great and inspiring.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Samples of My Work

Photo #1
Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Woodenbabies of Lake Sherwood

Nestled in the Santa Monica mountain's romantic community of Lake Sherwood, Chasha Mindlin dedicates herself to the art of violin-making. From beginning to end and in spirit and tradition of the "Old Masters," Chasha carves her instruments with hand tools and brushes on her self-made varnishes. Because of the time and dedication it takes to create each instrument, she calls them "wooden babies".

As a small girl growing up in Holland, Chasha considered violins to be her best friends, having discovered various old violins in musky old wooden cases in her parents dark and mysterious attic. Looking them over carefully, smelling the old wood, crumbled-up rosin, old bows and gut strings, she imagined fixing them up or better yet making one herself. "My mother played the violin and that left me with a deep impression and love the instrument."

Chasha's opportunity to learn violin-making came when she met Mario Frosali in 1973 in Los Angeles. Frosali, who had worked aside Saccony in New York, tutored Chasha on her first three violins. Since then she has privately studied with various fine makers, attended workshops as well as the violin-making school in Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, her professional experience includes an apprenticeship in Germany at Hopff Werkstadt in Wehen and in the U.S. with Schuback Violinshop in Portland, Oregon. In addition, she worked for David Stone in Seattle, Washington mostly rehairing bows, but mainly she has followed her passion through self-study.

Chasha demonstrates her love, passion and integrity for each instrument she makes from start to finish, which includes collecting the wood and fabricating her own varnishes from organic raw materials. "I like to be involved in and with the total spectrum of experiences of my passion and love for the art, craft and skills of violin-making; and hopefully this will be transmitted to and through each instrument I make."

No doubt, each of Chasha's instruments has its own elegant character, are easy to play and even in tonal quality reflect the unique distinctive hand of the maker. "I like the instruments to do all the talking, something which is hard to do about one's self."

For those who visit her workshop, or buy one of Chasha's instruments, they also undergo their own magical and mysterious experience, momentarily transporting back into time when most items were hand-crafted. The process of "choosing" a violin to purchase is a magical, subjective and mysterious journey, much like falling in love. Truly, no scientific reason has been attributed as why a musician tends to lean towards one instrument or another.