Bows that steal the show - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Bows that steal the show

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EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. -

With any great performance, the musician tends to steal the show. But there's something that shouldn't be overlooked -- the bow.

As Eben Bodach-Turner hand makes bows, his muse hangs over him. And although this drawing may be from the 1700's, tradition hasn't changed in this East Montpellier workshop. "This is a craft that's been unchanged in two and-a-half centuries -- the tools the materials the techniques," Eben said.

His hand-crafts bows for instruments in the violin family. And he says these $2,500 handmade bows make all the difference. "It makes it play better, makes it more consistent, easier to handle and that will result in a better sound," Eben said.

A sound that he's been loving since high school, when the bass player started working in a violin shop doing repairs -- the rest is history. "We work with totally different materials than the instruments -- not maple and spruce. I work with Pernambuco and ebony which are tropical woods," he said.

Precious tropical wood is just the beginning. Rare shell fish, horse hair from Mongolia and Siberia, and woolly mammoth tusks -- yes, you heard that correctly -- are used for the bows.
"Every spring the tundra wells up and woolly mammoth tusks emerge," Eben said.

It takes one week to make a bow. Then another week to fine tune it for the perfect smooth sound. There are 40 of Eben's bows being used around the world. "When a bow leaves my shop it goes out into the world and creates a whole other life and art  -- how can you not love that," he said.

Incorporating tradition and art with his Made in Vermont bows.

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