Well, a “Giunta” (read joon-ta) is what’s called the Center Joint – that is the line that glues together both parts of an instruments’ front or back. A violin may look like its wood had been bent into an arch, but actually it’s carved from a block of wood that looks like a slice of pizza, created by cutting a radial slice of the huge maple and spruce trees used for this purpose. The violin-maker takes this “pizza-slice” and cuts it to two thinner slices – and then comes the part of the Giunta: the two slices are opened like two pages of a book and need to be glued together back to back in the most exact manner. To that end, each of the sides needs to be planed and shaved until they fit each other perfectly, with not a crack, not a hair of air left between them.
Let me tell you – it is a serious challenge for young violin makers, and it takes many hours and many many wood shavings – trucioli in Italian (read troo-cho-li – now doesn’t that sound so much better than ‘shavings’??) to reach that exact pairing of the two sides.
The trucioli that fall off the wood are beautiful – they are thin and curved and look like waves, snails and curls, and they give off the most wonderful wooden smell….which brings me to one of our first experiences in Italy.
When we first came to Cremona, we lived in a small quaint apartment right under the roof of an old building (what the Italians call “sotto-tetto“). It had a slanting ceiling and windows that came up to our waist. It had two relatively large rooms, a very small kitchen and an un-proportionately large, tile-covered bathroom. We quickly realized Yonatan will have to set up a workshop at home and since we used the two rooms to live and sleep in, the only place left was… the bathroom, which is where he put his first workbench. Our oldest son Itamar was a little more than a year old at the time. He just started talking his first steps and loved crawling around on the sawdust-covered floor of that bathroom-turned-workshop and play with those golden, fragrant trucioli. Below you can see a typical picture from those early Italian days.
Of course by now gluing the “Giunta” has become routine, and if you are an Attentive Reader of this blog, you saw in my last post that the center joints for all four instruments are already complete, since they were really prepared before the forms were made. So this week Yonatan is working on the “roughing” – crudely carving the external arch-form of the fronts and backs of all instruments. This is really the most physical part of the entire process, seriously taxing the hands, shoulders and upper torso – and that’s usually just for a single instrument! Yonatan said it’s nice that this phase fell on one of the coldest weeks in the usually mild Israeli winter. This process is done with heavy gloves, but Yonatan still has painful blisters on his palms – who said it’s easy to build a Quartet?!?!
We’ll see how much he has managed to accomplish by next week, but for now I leave you with one of my favorite “trucioli” pictures, taken back in Italy by my sister’s husband Eyal, who is a great photographer:
You can see more of his work here.