When a Disney film, “Coco,” spotlighted a small Mexican town where almost every shop makes guitars, it suddenly made ornate, white guitars famous. Underneath the new pop icon, however, lies a variety of much finer instruments—and a rich craft going back generations.
Story by LAURA FRASER
Photography and videography by ANDREW SULLIVAN
The now iconic white guitar made famous by the Disney film “Coco” was created in Paracho, a small Mexican town where almost every shop makes guitars. Underneath the new icon lay centuries of craftsmanship.
Since the 16th century, Cremona’s luthiers—including Stradivari himself—have been using a particularly resonant wood from Paneveggio, known as Italy’s “violin forest,” to handcraft the world’s finest violins. Then a 2018 storm decimated the forest. A band of experts in Cremona is now rallying to save this iconic tradition.
In this short video, we watch Boggs use (and discuss) his wood rail bender, which does the work that normally requires two or three people. After the bending, he moves the wood to “the hot room”: 116-120 degrees, 16 percent humidity. (He also uses the hot room to dry mullein and stinging nettle for tea.)
In a small brick building in East London, in a school developed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, before he became King Charles, students from around the world are giving new life to a set of artistic principles that have been nearly lost. Their work is helping to revive a number of nearly obsolete skills in art, architecture, and manufacturing, with a new tilt toward sustainability.
By TODD OPPENHEIMER
While rural Japan may not be the first place one envisions as a production site for medieval and Renaissance-era instruments from Europe and Central Asia, this was precisely the craft of master instrument-builder Kōhaku Matsumoto, founder of the Catherina Early Musical Instruments Workshop. Matsumoto originally established his studio in Tokyo in 1972, then relocated in…
Since the 16th century, Cremona’s luthiers—including Stradivari himself—have been using an unusually resonant wood from Paneveggio, known as Italy’s “violin forest,” to handcraft the world’s finest string instruments. Then a 2018 storm decimated the forest. A band of experts in Cremona is now rallying to save this iconic tradition. A documentary short.
Film by LUISA GROSSO
The word artisanal has become so shopworn that it’s almost devoid of meaning. (To wit: we once saw a pizza outlet on the outskirts of a small town in northern France that was fashioned in the style of an ATM-kiosk under the following sign: “Artisanal Pizza.”) In stark contrast to this sorry state of affairs, we would like to suggest a few items for holiday shopping made by some of the masters we profiled in 2019.
By EDITORS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP MAGAZINE