Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Voila, A Viola

Well....a fiddle, actually.

Let me explain.

Our family watches very little TV....almost none. We do own a TV set, but we keep it packed away in the garage, only to be brought upstairs and plugged in on the rarest of occasions (although, I must confess that it's been up here a few extra times since the Phillies made the playoffs). We believe in guarding our hearts, and especially in guarding the hearts of our kids, and, let's face it, the TV can let a lot of garbage into a home...but I'll spare you that whole rigmarole and get to what us not watching TV has to do with a fiddle.

On Saturday nights, we gather 'round our computer and watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie before Gavin goes to bed. Gavin loves to see how they did things back then. He also gets to see that how we live at our home is similar, in some ways, to the life of the Ingalls Family; modern conveniences not withstanding: (the planting/gardening/harvesting, building/fixing/using tools, wood chopping/burning, baking/cooking/recipes, family joining together in worship/ Scripture reading/social time, etc. etc.)
He's taken quite a shine to Pa Ingalls. In fact, Gav likes to play Little House and pretend that he's Pa. Sometimes I get to be Mr. Edwards, sometimes I have to be Laura or Mary (depending on which episode we are recreating). Mama is always Mrs. Ingalls, and Ivy's always baby Carrie. One of the things that Gavin likes most about Pa Ingalls is when he plays his fiddle.

Gavin decided one day that he needed a fiddle just like Pa Ingalls. Being the resourceful and creative type that he is, his "fiddle" was a 12 inch long piece of tree bark left over from the wood splitter and his "bow" was a 9 inch twig that he found in the front yard. Now, you could see a kid, in the heat of the moment of creative play necessity grab these items to quickly use as a fiddle for whatever scene he was recreating and then quickly discard after the child's attention was focused elsewhere.


Gavin kept that bark and twig for weeks.

And weeks.

"Where's my fiddle, Mama?" he'd ask. Mama would point it out to him, and he'd grab it and pretend to squeak out a verse or two of "Old Dan Tucker". Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the kids resourcefulness, creativity, and contentment...but at some fatherly, nurturing level, it bummed me out that he was using a freaking piece of bark as a fiddle. So, in true Ingalls spirit, Gavin and I headed down to the workshop yesterday to build him a proper fiddle. Here's what we ended up with 2 hours later:

We sketched out a basic body shape on a piece of paper and transferred it to a 3/4" piece of scrap plywood which we used for the body, bow, and raised bridge...then we cannibalized a bungee cord for the strings, weather stripping for chin padding, and 4eye-bolts for the tuners...sanded it down and threw in some etching with a rotary tool. We used a piece of ribbon for the horse hair of the bow. Please allow me a "Proud Papa" moment and say that Gavin used, at some level, every tool that we used on this project (except the table saw). I love that he loves tools and building, but I love more that he's so content and gets so excited to just be with his family. It's no Stradivarius, but we had an awesome time together in the workshop...and, let me tell you, this kid plays a MEAN plywood fiddle.

Watch out Charlie Daniels

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