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Invisible touch

Brian Epp takes pleasure in deception. In fact, you could say he wrote the book on it. To be fair, the people Epp enjoys fooling are the ones who bring their violins, violas and cellos to him to retouch damaged areas of their finish. Epp said he can add anywhere from six to 30 layers of pigment and varnish to make the finish “correct to the era.”

“It’s very time consuming, but it’s also very rewarding … especially when your client comes in, and he can’t see where you’ve retouched it,” said Epp, who has been working on stringed instruments out of his home since 2000.

Epp actually did write a book, The Art of Violin Retouching: Layers, Colors and Depth. It’s a manual for the layman on how to retouch instruments. Epp made his writer friend a little envious when the first publisher he approached agreed to print the book back in 2009.

“It took me over a year to realize ‘Oh my gosh, I’m an author,’” Epp said.

He’ll soon be updating his book for a second edition.

Epp said he’s always been a craftsman, and became interested in violin repair 13 years ago when his stepson took up the instrument. He immediately went out and bought one for himself and proceeded to take it apart. That led to more purchases and repairs, and, after a while, Epp was repairing instruments for locals and working on a website to expand his reach to the rest of the United States and even Canada. Now, Epp estimates he works on a hundred instruments a year, spending anywhere from one week to six months on each one.

See more of Brian Epp’s work at www.artisanviolin.com.

Steve Lewis

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