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Puttin' On The Ritz

Posted by mudbug on Monday, October 17, 2011


Last Spring I went to the local transfer station to get rid of some cardboard,  glass,  metal and wood.  While putting things in their respective piles,  I happened upon a torn mink coat sitting on some clean stuff,  so I took it home.  When I got home,  my wife was out in the yard and said  "What is THAT?"   I replied that it was a mink coat.  I always get the feeling that she already knows the answer when posing these types of questions. She wanted to know what I intended doing with said item,  whereupon I replied  "I don't know,  but I'm sure I'll find a use for it.  It's not everyday you find a mink coat."  I let it sit outside for a couple days in case there were any bugs present and then the butchery began.  I carefully cut out the liner and realized how delicate a mink pelt is and that this was a very old coat,  as it had 15-20 repaired tears in the pelts.  Every time it got torn,  it was taken to a furrier,  who would remove the lining and sew up the tear.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was from back in the early part of the 20th century.  After I got it all trimmed up,  I set it aside until I could find a use for it.

When I got my viola a month ago,  it was a new,  old stock viola,  that the guy had bought as part of a trade show consignment years ago.  He didn't have any viola cases,  so I took it home in the cardboard box it came in.  I ordered a case last week and it arrived today.  A Bobilock plywood,  student case.  Basic and inexpensive,  but protective.  It didn't have any suspension and  with no padding under the scroll,   it thunked on the plywood when I put the viola in.  As I was looking at it,  I remembered the mink.  Ahh-Haa!  I lined the head section of the case with mink,  so it  padded  the scroll,  then lined the body section,  with folds fore and aft,  so not only did it fill the gap and make for a tighter fit,  but now it has suspension. 

This might be the only mink lined viola case in existence,  and now I'm  wondering if I've done the right thing.  When Itzak Perlman hears about this,  is he going to try to one-up me and go with sable?  Is some member of PETA going to throw red paint at my viola?  Will they listen when I tell them that these mink were to present day mink,  like the Roman Empire is to our present age?  Will they believe me that I was recycling and actually being green (  well, actually it's a beautiful reddish brown with black stripes.)  Will my friends snub me now,  thinking that I've become a snob?  I've never been to an OT jam,  but if I did go now,  how could I possibly show up in a pair of bibs?  Maybe I should just get a top hat and cane. 

12 comments on “Puttin' On The Ritz”

Rene Says:
Monday, October 17, 2011 @4:50:57 PM

Alright way to recycle yourself right into snobsville...I'll keep my eyes open for a top hat and cane and pair of spats.

boxbow Says:
Monday, October 17, 2011 @4:57:46 PM

Pearls. Y'need pearls. Something tasteful.

bj Says:
Monday, October 17, 2011 @5:59:10 PM

I've heard of bow bugs. But Faddle Fleas? ;-)

notlwonk Says:
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @9:50:01 AM

If you were to try to play that viola wearing bibs, would it ever give you a clear note? Violas have standards too ya know!

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @10:13:44 AM

Spats and pearls.......Hmmmmm. Now where did I put that viola? "Oh, Loveyyyyyy".

richdissmore Says:
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @1:52:07 PM

i know a guy that lined his banjo case with beaver fur it was quit a job to take on it was real nice he had to tan the fur be for he could use it

fiddlerjoebob Says:
Monday, November 7, 2011 @4:20:05 AM

i should have showed you my old fiddle's case at Fiddle Hell. I had it with me. Its lined with Ocelot. found it a thrift shop. it was small coat and torn badly. Snip---snip---snip...Now its the resting place of my "old brown shoe" fiddle. Snazzy?


mudbug Says:
Monday, November 7, 2011 @11:28:46 AM

Ocelot? That trumps mink. I would have loved to see it.

Diane G Says:
Thursday, November 10, 2011 @8:39:59 PM

Hey Steve...just be sure you don't leave the mink and viola together on a real hot day in the case...the varnish may get soft and then you''d have a hairy viola...LOL. Diane

mudbug Says:
Friday, November 11, 2011 @4:13:26 AM

Thanks, Diane. Yeah, I don't think I'd do it if I lived in Arizona where it reached 130F in the shade, one day while I was there, but here in New England, I figure so long as I don't leave it in direct sun during our two week summer, I should be fine.

Diane G Says:
Monday, November 14, 2011 @10:17:05 PM

Steve...I thought of one other thing to be careful about with the fur.....carpet beetles! They love fur...we know them as bow bugs. The best thing to do is put the empty case out in the direct sunlite for a few hours and the cold (Maine) air. Bow bug larve die in direct sunlite. Take care and stay tuned. Diane
PS: do you play viola?...classical? If so, what strings for viola do you really like. My husband, Bob...a violin restorer/maker is setting up a 15.5 inch viola to sell and he needs some suggestions for strings. Thanks.

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 @1:59:25 AM

Thanks, Diane, for your thoughts. Yeah, I thought about the beetles, too, that's why I left the fur out in the sunlight and air, initially. Even though it looks very cool, I'm thinking about scrapping the idea. Yes, I just got a viola two months ago and a nice bow about 3 weeks ago which I'm still getting used to, maybe because of the weight difference and balence point. I found an inexpensive viola that the luthier put Evah Perazzi's on, which made a huge difference in the tone. These are the only known brand that I have any experience with other than hating the cheap strings that come on most cheap violas. The tone is lush and beautiful. Maybe I'll experiment in a year. Yes, I'm teaching myself to read alto clef and working on "classical" technique, with some Duncan books on easy Mozart and Bach pieces, but also jamming with CD's and learning improve on classic country songs and playing celtic tunes I know(mostly aires, transposed down . I wouldn't want to give up the fiddle, but I am so in love with the viola tone and split my practice between them.

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