One spring day, in May, a captivating experience thoroughly changed my life while I was visiting Mirecourt School...

As I walked into the workshop, I was struck by the stillness; and my senses awoke with breaths of fragrant scents. Smells of spruce and maple wood, spiced with varnish floated in a peaceful setting.

Applied students working with a variety of wood pieces were absorbed by the makings of their first violin.

Sitting in the back of the workshop, an old master luthier sat on his thrown, wearing a faded blue apron. He was skillfully applying thin layers of varnish on the bottom of the viola he had just created. With a touch of carefully selected yellow and orange pigments, he achieved the subtle maple shade he was looking for, with magnificent depth and dimension.

Next to him, a young student was preparing the preliminaries for a spruce top. It was coming to life as the large gouge shaped the wood with deep parallel furrows. Long wood shavings fell to the ground in spirals. Under his master's close watch, the young apprentice shaped the spruce wood, carefully working the sides to protect the emerging arch from thinning.

Isolated in another room, students were absorbed in various tasks... Many original tools were hanging on wooden boards, dressing the white walls in the room. I was filled with awe. There was an array of scissors, gouges and other singular tools, all hanging vertically from small to large, like huge pan flutes, a myriad of musical art exposed on the walls.

The other side of the big workshop was for the Bow Makers. I was taken by the beauty and finesse represented by the Pernambouc bows, set off by a piece of ebony trimmed in mother-of-pearl and silver. The most breathtaking were set in ivory or translucent tortoise shell, underlining the pink gold and mother-of-pearl, ingeniously crafted. These bows were clearly designed by the expertise of a great master perpetuating his art through his young disciples. The elegance and harmony which stemmed from such complex shapes empowered my senses. I was captivated by this vocation. I observed an older student for a while, who was giving a subtle arch to his bow by warming it over a wood stove. Meticulous care was taken to warm the wood to stretch its fibers without burning it. He gently folded the Pernambouc on a corner of his workbench, until he achieved a perfect arch.

I didn't know it at the time, but I would soon become one of these disciples...


  • Bernard Ouchard Mirecourt France
  • Roger Lotte Mirecourt France
  • Jacques Camurat Paris France
  • Max Möller Amsterdam The Netherlands


  • Meilleur Ouvrier de France Paris - France 1994
  • Second Prize – Ville de Paris Paris - France 1991
  • Gold Medal Ottawa - Canada 1984
  • Silver Medal Portland - USA 1986
  • Certificate of Merit Kassel - Germany 1983
  • Professional Training Certificate Mirecourt - France 1980