Sunday, August 2, 2009
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.