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Random Routes

Vicky Hancock discovers Michael Vann's roundabout way into bow making

September 14, 2010

I’ve just spoken to Canadian bow maker Michael Vann about his workshop for the November issue’s My Space article. When we started chatting about how his career started I soon discovered that his route into bow making was definitely not what I’d imagined.

He said: ‘My first career was as a photojournalist, working for a national newspaper in Canada. In my thirties I met my now wife – a violinist – and when I was in her teaching studio one day I asked about the “white stuff” on her bow. When she explained it was horse hair and that she had to send it off to get it rehaired I thought, “I could do that” – although she disagreed!

Later I did a feature for the paper on the guitar maker Frank Gay. When I visited his studio I saw bows hanging up. He needed to rehair them, although it was clear he didn’t like doing it. So I offered to do it and took the bows away with me. On my way home I stopped by the local abattoir and bought a couple of horse tails. Then I went to the library and got out a book on bow rehairing. Soon after one of my wife’s colleagues suggested I study bow making and I contacted William Salchow in New York.’

Speaking with Michael made me wonder how many of you have had an equally random route into the string world? Let us know.

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