Julian Page

I was offered a placement with Philip Ihle in London, and carved a scroll in the style of Stradivari. Philip asked me to think about form following function, and suggested I start by excavating the pegbox; this was something I'd always done at the end, but it became clear very quickly that there are several important advantages: there is as yet no carving to damage, the block is easier to hold, and it allows you to be fairly brutal when chopping out the waste (which is quicker). It was interesting having to visualise the finished shape so that the floor of the pegbox flowed appropriately, reminding me of painting negative shapes.

Philip cuts the chamfer early on and gets its trajectory right; its width can then be fine-tuned as you continue to carve the volute and cut the fluting. Again, this was very different to my previous experience and I found the process much easier to control. It made me realise that you have to question everything: there are lots of different ways to do the same job so you have to experiment to find the one that gives you the results you want in the shortest time.

We talked a lot about what were the critical things to get right, and about aesthetic considerations. It was a fascinating and absorbing week and I keep finding more ways in which it has helped me. Philip made me very welcome and was a thoughtful and patient mentor, and I am extremely grateful to him and to the RAB Trust for having given me this opportunity.