What is the wood I use for the bows ?
Robinia pseudoacacia, in English known as the black locust, is a tree of the genus Robinia, named after the French botanist Jean Robin, who introduced the tree to Europe in 1601.
In France we are used to the common name Acacia or, more accurately, Robinier. In mai the trees flower and the white abundant flowers show us how common they are in forests and along the roads. The common name Acacia is well known for the transparant, deliciously flavored acacia honey.
The species is native to North America, but has been widely planted and naturalized in Europe, Southern Africa and Asia.
The wood has a pale yellowish color, sometimes with pistachio green lines. Exposed to the sunlight it turns to a reddish brown. It is resistant to rot, due to the Flavonoids in the heartwood, which allow the wood to last over 100 years in soil. We see it often used to make fence posts.
Although it is a North American genus, traces of Robinia are found in the Eocene and Miocene rocks of Europe.
By a strange telescoping between common names and scientific names, there is confusion in the names of three kinds: the genera Acacia, Robinia and Mimosa. Indeed, the species called Mimosa in everyday language has the genus name Acacia, when what we call Acacia is actually Robinia, belonging to the Fabaceae family, subfamily Mimosoidea.
Is the use of Robinia historical or not ?
I am happy to use local wood, as bow makers did before the introduction of tropical woods, like Snake wood, Iron wood and Pernambuco.
Did renaissance bow makers use Robinia ? No, it was introduced in Europe in 1601.
But I am pragmatic, it is local now and extremely suitable for the goal : producing a good sound on a renaissance viol, direct and clear. For me it’s the best option.
Take your viol and try these bows, you will be amazed … and we will talk about it …
Even in modern bow making I see possibilities for Robinia bows. Pernambuc is no longer available and with a sustainable and ecological trademark, Robinia could be a good option for the future …
Why not ?
And, what else is possible ?