This is part of the Second Annual Contemporary Violin & Bow Maker Exhibition 2018.
Atwood was inspired to take up violin making after hearing a lecture by a fellow physicist in 1978. Atwood had recently completed his Ph.D. in experimental high-energy particle physics and was working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The lecture by Jack Fry on the physics of the violin inspired Atwood to bring together several lifelong passions: he had played the violin since the age of 8; he had acquired fine wood working skills from his father, a cabinet maker specializing French Provincial furniture; and now, as a full-fledged physicist, he was well equipped to understand the underlying physics of string instruments. In 1983, upon returning from a post-doc in Europe with a trove of aged wood appropriate for instrument making, Atwood made his first violin. Through the 1980's and into the 1990's nearly a dozen more instruments followed. In 1996 Atwood apprenticed himself with Tom Croen: Tom would teach Atwood making in the classical style while Atwood would share insights into the physics behind violin acoustics. Atwood retired from Stanford in 1999 and took up violin making full time for several years. However, the lure of physics eventually brought him back to teaching and research at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Atwood retired from this position in 2016 and is again making instruments. To date Atwood has made over 60 violins and violas combined. These instruments are in the hands of both amateurs and professionals, classical musicians as well as heavy metal band players, advanced students and devoted chamber music players.
Atwood's violin shop is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains just north of the UCSC. His much prized wood stash from Europe and the US includes Bavarian split spruce, Swiss spruce, Baltic maple, and Pacific North West quilted maple. All of the wood is now well over twenty years old since cutting and much of it is close to 100 years old. Atwood's instruments are completely handmade from purfling to the varnish.