[ trevor semple's rosettes]Antonio Torres was probably the first maker to regularly use mosaic blocks for his rosette decorations. Since around 1850, this has become the usual practice among guitar makers, and the process has changed very little. But, like computer graphics, the definition and complexity can be improved by increasing the number of "pixels". To some, rosettes are merely decorations, but to many they are a reflection of the skill and pride of the maker in his craft. These rosettes are among the finest ever made by hand and the soft colours and delicate curves reflect the Art Nouveau influences of this series. The rosette motifs harmonise with the other decorations, as a celebration of the natural world : the source of timber, that most wonderful and versatile of raw materials granted to us.
The Rosette patterns of the Celtic Series have all been inspired by traditional Celtic Art, mostly 4th and 5th century designs from the Book of Kells. Some of the details in this beautiful volume are so small that it is believed the scribes must have used a primitive form of magnifying glass. For many people, there is a fascination with these ever receding horizons, and Trevor Semple had tried to reflect the minuteness and the detail-within-detail of the originals. In part, this is a homage to some of the most inspiring art ever created, and in part a recognition of his birthplace, in Scotland. The latest generation of Celtic Series instruments employ one of the most widespread and enduring Celtic patterns, called knotwork. It is believed the interwoven strands represent the many paths through life and death, and eventually each strand links back to its beginning in an eternal circle. It is an appropriate symbol for a luthier, since in some ways the guitar carries the maker's immortality.
The mosaic rosette patterns of Spanish luthiers were probably inspired by Arabic art carried to Spain from North Africa. But in England, years before guitar makers started to use mosaic blocks for their rosettes, a small group of craftsmen developed some of the most sophisticated wooden mosaic ever created. It was called Tunbridge Ware, because the craftsmen who practiced these extrordinary skills were only to be found around the town of Tunbridge Wells. Of the three series of guitars made by Trevor Semple, the rosettes of the Capital Series most closely follow the tradition of our native Tunbridge Ware, and reflect the guitar's English origin. Firstly, local scenes are used as motifs for the label and rosette. Secondly, the Capital Series keeps to a block size of around 1 mm square, which is very similar to the size of the mosaic used in the creation of these beautiful antiques, and gives a very charming, slightly angular effect.
Q Series rosettes represent a departure from the tradition of mosaic block rosettes, established around 150 years ago by Antonio Torres. As one of the first new guitar designs of the 21st century, it seemed an appropriate time to break with the tradition and create a rosette that could not be mistaken for work of earlier centuries. The colours are have the brilliance of aniline dyes, and the juxtaposition of improbable colours was inspired by Central American art. In shape, this rosette is, to the best of my knowledge, quite unique.