ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There is a woodworker in St. Pete who is celebrating a major milestone. He’s been making handmade violins for the past 50 years.
Just like snowflakes, no violin made by Peter White is exactly the same.
“They’re my children and they go off and they have their own lives,” said White. “It’s kind of hard to let them go, you spent all that time with them, you suffered over them, all the tedious intricate work.”
It takes White about two months to construct one violin. In the past 50 years, he’s made 260 of them.
“There are violin players everywhere from Hawaii to St. Petersburg to Russia who play on my violins,” said White.
White’s imagination for the instrument dates back to when he was a kid. It led him to Poland in the early 1980s. Despite being the height of the Cold War, he wanted to learn from some of the best.
“I was followed by the underground police in Poland until they found out I was just a violin maker,” said White.
White went on to teach violin making at the University of New Mexico to Hispanic and Native American students.
“And I took about 10 of those students to Cremona, Italy, for the Stradivari International Competition,” said White. “We had a great time, we performed some of the melodies from the mountains of New Mexico.”
In 2015, he retired from the university to concentrate on violin making full-time in Florida.
“There is no ocean in New Mexico,” joked White.
Seven days a week you can find White inside his Creative 400 Studio.
“I love what I do, I have a great passion for it, I love working with my hands,” said White.
If history is any indicator, he believes he still has plenty of years to go.
“Stradivari was working at age 92 when he died, and he was still working,” said White.
The only thing White is lacking is an apprentice to play second fiddle.
“If you go to violin making school it’s $40,000 a year, so you can come and work with me for free, it’s not a bad deal,” said White.
For more information on Peter White and his violins go to email@example.com.