The Greyhound Mandoline

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Special one-off bowl-back Mandoline project for Josée Thériault.
The first thing Josée expressed to me while commissioning her Mandoline, is how -too deep- her Italian mandoline felt to her while playing. She requested an instrument with a shallower bowl-back, with a wider outline reminiscent of the German flat-back Mandolines. It had to sound -sweet- and be comfortable to play! And..oh yes; It had to pay tribute to her fascination for a particular breed of dog - the Greyhound.
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In a way, her instrument would be a cross-breed between a historic types of instruments (left), and somewhat would resemble a small Oud like I have built in the past, only more shallow this time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I could visualise its shape, but for the dog reference, this wasn't all so clear! 
...I thought this could get sorted out in time : -I and gave her a genuine -Yes!- for to begin with.
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Proportions :
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I took some time and studied Alfred Woll (below left) and Klaus Knorr (right), both of whom I owe credit to for inspiration.
 
What I realized is that I wasn't that far off with the Oud's proportions, and could apply some of them to the Mandoline.
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 Greyhound Mandoline outline
Design phase slideshow :

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The project took a very vivid visual aspect, when Josée found a beautiful drawing online:  -Angel hound with wings- , from U.K. artist Jackie Morris was just -perfect-!
 
We got in touch with the artist, and she was generous to accept that her design finds its way on a musical instrument.
   It took a little while for me to balance everything out on paper ; I'm quite happy with the dynamics of this design around the sound hole.
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Original -Angel dog-drawing by Jackie Morris.
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Asking Josée about -pick guard- needs ; She said she didn't need any! I was free to explore a little, and ended-up using my 3-line logo in a deconstructed way : The horizontal trail-lines all giving speed and forward movement to the subject. 
Bowl-back construction :
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Above left, is the traditional cross-section profile of the Italian Mandoline. The technical drawing in the middle was provided by Josée, for to give directions on what she wanted in terms of form and ergonomics. Right is my preliminary sketch for to make a mould that would yield the desired shape soundbox.
Shown below is the actual making of the mould, which was made out of beautiful black willow.
Making the mould slideshow :

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African padauk was chosen for to make the bowl. Its high frequency response is quite unique, while also being a medium-density wood that could yield warmth to the tone,  and physical lightness to the whole. Neck block and tail block are black willow. Purfling lines are torrefied maple, which I thought would compliment well the padauk, and later make a nice short neck material also:
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3 ribs glued to the blocks at this point. Pictured on the drawing to the Raga guitar project.
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Yé! Quite a reward to make a bowled item from assembling flat pieces of wood.
While completed from its outside view, this soundbox still needs equivalent work done on its inside : Next will be reinforcing every glue line, reinforcing neck/body junction and soundboard/body junction with additional elements.
This is done after soundboard making is initiated.
Soundboard :
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Here my 3-line logo (upper right) is made with pink, blue and black Koto veneers with an additional line of African padauk. Split and spread-out around the sound hole layout, it now serves a visual/dynamic function, to give the impression of movement to the static (below) Greyhound element. Soundboard is Engelmann spruce which will be bent across on its lower-bout line, just behind the bridge position.
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The Greyhound element is not the sound hole itself, but a black element right next to it, that makes it look like as part of it. Very thin and laminated ebony was chosen for to make this part, in which I tried different inlay material alternatives. Carved into the thin soundboard are the little Angel dog's wings, which are leafed/gilded with 23k gold. 
When done, the little dog is glued in place. Its position will next connect with 2 transverse soundboard brace, and sound hole will be cut at the very end of the process.
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Final steps to the soundbox : Reinforcing the bowl
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More on this very special project in 2021.