Ciresa wood supplier's brand stamped on spruce violin frontAll instruments are made using the finest available woods personally selected by hand, often at source.  The majority of spruce fronts come from the Fiemme Valley in the Dolomites of Northern Italy.  Maple/sycamore backs, necks and ribs originate from a wide geographical area including some Scottish and English pieces.

Storage of tonewood on open roof beams in workshop

All wood, regardless of age, is allowed to dry and stabilise naturally over many years in the workshop.  As a violin maker, my stock of aged tonewood is a constant source of motivation to me.  I inspect every piece before the start of each new violin, viola or cello to see which will inspire me to create the next instrument.




All my wood is of optimum density and stiffness but my decision may be made by a particularly striking regular or irregular flame pattern in the maple, dead-straight, evenly-spaced grain lines on a fine spruce front or a wild and unpredictable “bearclaw” pattern found in some spruce, a challenge to the eye and to the luthier.

spruce front showing straight grain lines Flamed maple cello rib








All instruments are finished with my own oil varnish based on traditional recipes.  As well as protecting the instrument, I believe that the varnish should serve to emphasise Varnish ingredients, mastic tears and colophony in their raw statethe inherent beauty and character of the underlying wood rather than to mask it with excessive colour.

As a contemporary maker, I pride myself in the quality and finish of my work and I therefore do not “antique” instruments. I aim to achieve a finish which blends in sympathetically with a range of aged instruments which may surround it in an orchestral or chamber setting.  When referencing the work of the great masters, I imagine what these wonderful instruments would have looked like when they first emerged from the workshop.  The story of an instrument can be accurately told from the natural wear and tear that it will doubtless experience through the course of its long working life.

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