One day a guy called me saying that he had a very crazy idea that we should discuss. He came to my workshop with a wood log painted in red (the traditional Falun red paint) asking if I could make a violin with it, he wanted to have a present for his wife birthday. The log was a piece of his house that he saw to open a new door. The house was from the end of the XIX century so I knew (at least) that it was old and dry enough. The wood wasn't the usual, "pinus silvestris", ("furu" the tradicional swedish name), but I do not work with the usual woods in general so, that wasn't the point.
The idea of making a violin was something I always had in mind, but from a log of a house, I wasn't sure... We spent some time discussing it and after some weeks I came with the proposal to build, instead of a violin, a medieval fiddle. I don´t really know what do they call a medieval fiddle and as far as I can understand most of the instrument builders who dedicate to build historical instruments base their work, naturally, on paintings or sculptures that represent what could have been an instrument of a certain period. Although without any accuracy in terms of historical period I passed trough many luthiers websites looking for references and inspiration to build an instrument that would feel and sound as much as possible as a violin.
This had many advantages, on one side, as an archaeologist, the building and study of historical instruments was one of my first interests in instrument making (this could be my first chance to go for it); on the other side, I could make an instrument that wouldn't carry the responsibility to make an instrument as beautiful and demanding like the violin.
So, after the first test was passed - choosing an instrument that fits the client ideas and fits my ideas, we decided to go. The timings were quite short so I decided to put this in front of other orders (sorry to those who are waiting, but I needed some holidays from guitars).
The result is an instrument made 98% of swedish wood:
"Betula" on back, sides and neck
"Pinus silvestris" on the top
And 2% of portuguese wood:
"Juglans regia" and "fagus" on the decorations.
It is a 3/4 size and after finishing it, while talking with another luthier he told me that some old "hardanger fiddles" (a traditional violin from Norway) were made with the same woods.
We can call this instrument a medieval fiddle or a cornerless violin, we can call it whatever we want. So what was before a house is today a musical instrument. The guy who called with a crazy idea became a friend and we are now working together making instruments. So, always keep your mind open to whatever happens, there is no way to know where things might come from! The instrument is yet in the new owners hands and as far as I know she´s really happy.