AP PHOTOS: In Serbian village, violins are made with love

Different violins hanging on the wall in violin maker Jan Nemcek's work shop, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek chisels the wood for a violin body, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek inspects the wood for a violin body after sandblasting, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek knocks on the future violin body to hear the sound, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek inspects the wood for future violin body after polishing, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A reflection of violin maker Jan Nemcek polishing a violin seen in a mirror, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek polishes the wood for a violin body, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek shows the smallest violin comparing it with bigger violins, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek plays small violin, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek picks up his own wood from the forest, cuts and dries it himself and then slowly and patiently moulds it into a musical instrument. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek poses by different violins hanging on the wall, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek shows a wooden statue of him, made by his wife, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Violin maker Jan Nemcek poses holding his favourite repaired 500 years old violin, in the northern Serbian village of Kovacica, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Nemcek is a violin maker a rare one that makes violins the old way _ using no machines, but only his hands and tools. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

KOVACICA, Serbia — In the small Serbian village of Kovacica, Jan Nemcek makes violins the old way — with no machines, only his hands and tools. And with love.

Nemcek's eyes soften as he takes a piece of wood and starts working slowly and patiently, lifting it against rays of sunshine protruding into the workshop.

Nemcek does everything himself: First he chooses his own forest wood, then dries it and cuts it into smaller pieces for violin parts.

The workshop in Nemcek's home in Kovacica is a haven of nature and art. Pieces of wood and violins are everywhere, while ready-made instruments of all sizes hang on the wall.

Nemcek says it takes about 200 hours to craft a good violin. To test the sound, Nemcek closes his eyes and gently knocks on the resonating violin body. The older the wood the better, he says, as it gets lighter and more melodic with age.

Nemcek learned his craft from his father and has taught his son how to make violins. He also teaches violin-making in Slovakia, where his 65 students have all made at least one violin.

The gentle, gray-bearded man says whoever starts making violins continues to do so for the rest of their lives.

Nowadays, Nemcek's violins enjoy good reputation and are valued on the market. Nemcek says many people come to visit his workshop to see how violins are made.

Apart from crafting new ones, Nemcek also restores old violins. His favorite is a violin from Prague that he says could be some 500 years old.

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