In 1989 I began my apprenticeship as a woodcarver in Flensburg at the Werkkunstschule. Besides carving in wood and working in clay, plaster, concrete and stone I gained a lot of experience in design and drawing. After leaving the school I went to Bremen, where I started carving heads for the viols of Henner.
This is where the instrument-making bug infected me, so I went to the Newark School of Violin Making to learn the making and repairing of violins. When leaving this three-year course, I decided to go to London for two years and work with Adam Whone to get experience in the repairing and restoration of old violins. Since then, I have been working in a few other violin shops to gain more experience. Now I make my own violins and carve heads for a variety of instruments and makers.
Makers like Dietrich Kessler, Michael Heale, Jane Julier, Renate Fink, Helen Michetschläger, Wesley Brandt, Thomas Mace, Norman Myall, Robert Eyland, Valentin Oelmüller, Tilman Muthesius, Dan Larsen, Claus Hüttel... have commissioned carved heads from me for their instruments.
Growing up surrounded by music and crafts, I was fascinated by working with wood and playing the viol from an early age.
In 1986 I went to England to study at the London College of Furniture, on the ‘early fretted instruments’ course. Since leaving college in 1990, I have run my own instrument building workshop, in both England and Germany. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work in London with the viol maker Dietrich Kessler, where I handled, studied and played a variety of lovely old gambas.
My instruments are closely based on those I have measured in museums and private collections in Europe.
I find that playing the viol myself helps considerably when setting up my instruments - particularly neck shape, action, bridge curve and height.
photo: P. Waesch