When I was studying in Newark, there was a tradition at the Newark School of Violin Making to hold a so-called "fiddle race" just before the Christmas holiday. For the fiddle race, teams of four aspiring luthiers would each undertake to make a violin in twenty-four hours. In my last year, my team consisted of first-year rib maker Gordon Kerr (now with J&A Beare & Co), second-years Kirsten and Bharat (scroll and back respectively) whose last names I no longer feel confident spelling, and myself (belly carver). We made a copy of a small Andrea Amati violin. I don't remember how I ended up with it -- we must have tossed a coin, or drawn a straw -- but it landed in my workshop, where it stayed through several intercontinental moves. There just never seemed to be a particular incentive to do anything with it.
In order to work on the varnish project with my students, I needed an instrument to varnish. We are keeping things simple here, as this is their first ever varnish experience, so I needed something-not-my-very-best ... I pulled the Amati from its dark and dusty corner, and concluded it would be a very good idea indeed to let all of my instruments sit for upwards of twenty-five years: The wood has taken on rich gold hue that could never be induced by chemistry or other artifice, and which will make varnishing really easy.