The week ahead is a little shorter than usual, having been closed on Saturday thanks to the Power Network people doing maintenance on the electricity network and unplugging the whole yard in the process. That will be followed on Monday and Wednesday by late starts as I make my way over to the Kent & Canterbury Hospital for my next dose of Anti-body treatment from last years chemo. We will be open both afternoons though.
I do believe I have mentioned my reactions to stormy winds before in these pages,but allow me to re-iterate. High winds have a tendency to knock down trees that are perhaps past their sell-by date as decorative items. And in this day and age, landowners very often have them cleared away either for aesthetic reasons or for those of Health and Safety.
Now, when I see a fallen tree, my first thought is about the type of tree. Some timbers are not very good for making musical instruments but others are very suitable. Numerous species have arrived in the yard outside the unit over the last few weeks, the by-product of our next door neighbours being (rather busy at the moment) Tree Surgeons. So, you can imagine my delight the other day when their wagon came into the yard and tipped the remains of a large Wild Cherry (Prunus Avium). Included was the entire trunk in two logs around four feet long and a good 16 inches in diameter. Negotiations with Bruk, their boss, didn’t take long and I acquired one of the two logs.
So it occurred to me that following this particular log all the way through the processes used to turn it into a musical instrument might just be a nice subject for this blog.
One or two of the instruments we have available for the Festive Season can be heard in these clips.
Unfortunately, it is me playing them, rather than someone who really can, but they give you a reasonable idea of the sounds they make. Recorded straight onto the camera with no gimmickry prior to being crunched by youtube!
My name is Wally, and I’m Walnut. That’s the wood I’m talking about, not the seed I was grown from. I was born back in 1785, or maybe 1783. It depends on when you count a tree being born, when the seed is planted in a growing pot, or when the young sapling is planted out in it’s permanent location. I was put in quite a nice place, in front of a big house along with a few of my brothers and some other relatives. I remember that when we were young we were quite well looked after by a man in baggy trousers and a big flat cap. It took a few years, but it wasn’t long Continue reading My Name is Wally..→
A question I’ve been asked a number of times recently is whether I buy in or make the ‘rope’ binding that adorns some of the instruments that we build. Well, buying in would almost certainly violate the concept of building instruments with locally sourced timber. Therefore the answer is that we make our own. It appears, however, that the majority of Luthiers Continue reading Shop made.→
It occurred to me that I’ve not posted any progress reports of late, what with all the tree felling going on but work in the shop has been progressing well. This week, no less than three instruments will get finished, the first of two Venezuelan Cuatro’s, a Cool Hand Tenor and a Cutaway Tenor, all featuring rope binding.
Using locally produced timber was taken to the extreme one day last week, when what was probably the closest tree to the workshop was felled. It was a Sycamore that had self seeded some 100 years ago along the main drive opposite to the entrance of the Craft Village.
Needless to say, we watched it’s demise, even video’d the act, and, surprise surprise, obtained the best part of the trunk for Ukulele parts!