What Makes a Downtown Maker?

Anya Burgess is a master violin maker and has studied her craft at Indiana University and with luthier Otis Tomas in Nova Scotia. She also plays the fiddle in two Cajun bands, Magnolia Sisters and Bonsoir Catin. Burgess opened Sola Violins in Downtown Lafayette in 2014, where she makes, repairs, and restores violins and other stringed instruments.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started making things.

Sola Violins is a full-service violin shop in downtown Lafayette. We do restoration, rentals and sales of violin family instruments. Aside from running the store, I’m also a violinmaker and got started making violins about 20 years ago at Indiana University’s violinmaking program. I learned how to build violins in the classical Italian style, and have continued from there. My handmade instruments are not sold at Sola Violins, but being a violinmaker definitely informs the instrument restoration and setup work I do everyday.

What does the term “Maker” mean to you?

Someone who builds or creates, starting with raw materials and turning them into beautiful or functional items.

Who or what inspires you to make?

I really enjoy all the time I spend at my workbench, using hand tools and working with wood. I also like making other things – I guess it’s the satisfaction of being creative and making my own vs. buying. It helps that I also love making music, and the violin is a huge part of that!

What’s it like being a Maker in Downtown Lafayette? Is it different from having a business in another Lafayette location?

Downtown Lafayette has a lot of creative energy, from the streetscape filled with public art to the numerous artistic and maker businesses. Our violin shop fits into this landscape, and takes inspiration from our creative neighbors. I love our location in Downtown Lafayette.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I guess I’m most proud that Downtown Lafayette can indeed support a violin shop, and I think our very existence helps people recognize how essential music is to our area. Yes, there are enough string players in south Louisiana to support a shop like ours. Fiddle players, classical musicians, students and professionals – our musical culture is something to celebrate and be proud of!

What up-and-coming Maker trends inspire you the most?

I don’t know much about trends, but it’s fun sharing process pics and seeing the work of other makers on social media. Posting photos allows people to see and gain an understanding of the intricate building process, from the tools all the way to the finished product. I also enjoy sharing photos on our social media of the various restoration projects we do and videos of players who come through the shop.

What advice can you give someone who is interested in starting their own Maker Business?

You have one life to live — start making now. Plan on working 7 days a week to get good at what you’re doing. And you’ll spend a lifetime developing mastery!

Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business.

The fiddle and the violin are the same instrument. Woah!!

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