Years before this site became a blog, perhaps even before blogs were a thing, I wrote about my vegan violin bow that I had specially made for me. Since that post is buried in the pages of the old non-WordPress site, and since I recently received a question about it, I’ll repost information about that now.
Violin bows are normally made with horse hair. There are a couple of different options for synthetic bow hair. One is the cheap plastic-type hair that is commonly used on children’s bows. You don’t want that. The other is a synthetic hair that outdoor musicians often use because it doesn’t stretch and contract with variations in humidity. It’s called Hervex. Here is the description of Hervex on Columbia River Music’s website:
A synthetic fiber that is superior to horsehair in every way. Stronger, more resilient, withstands greater stress without breaking. Holds all rosin with a better bite. 31 inches in length-all useable. Professional quality. Made in U.S.A.
I was very happy with the quality of the Hervex and recommend it, but it didn’t seem to me to hold rosin as well as I thought it should. It wasn’t a problem – I just had to rosin my bow well once before playing and it sounded great.
I also needed to get an entirely new bow made at that time. Aside from the horse hair, violin bows typically contain small pieces of bone and leather. I found a woman in Austin (where I lived at the time) who made violin bows and agreed to make me a vegan one. Her name is Margaret Adie and it looks like she still makes bows. She used pieces of silver in place of where bone and shell pieces normally would be and a special rubber piece in place of the leather grip. It’s a top quality bow.
If you’re wondering why anyone would object to using a little bit of horse hair, you’re probably imagining a field of frolicking horses having a lock of hair cut by a gentle barber each time a bow needs to be rehaired, without the horse ever noticing. In fact, most horse hair comes from horse meat farms in China.