Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year!

Well, 2017 is over (whew), and a hopeful 2018 is just beginning. I’m finally on the tail end of a two-week-long bad cold, and finally able to get back in the studio.

It’s finally raining here in Santa Cruz after a totally dry December. We’re enjoying the patter of rain drops on our roof, and I’m sure our garden is enjoying it more.

About 2018. Last year I retired from active craft shows and art festivals. I did do Open Studios in October, and, if I’m accepted again this year, for the 18th time, I’ll do it once more before retiring from that too. After that I’ll participate in the occasional gallery exhibit, and I plan to keep my Etsy shop going, which has done quite well this year.

A lot of my work last year was spent on antique instrument restorations. However, I did get one more dulcimer completed in November. This is not one of my traditional dulcimers. Elect-DulcimerThis one is a solid body electric dulcimer made from a single piece of salvaged ash. The three-pole pickup is perfect for the string spacing, and when plugged into a small portable guitar amp, the dulcimer sounds wonderful.

Just before my cold laid me up, I started turning more dulcimer noter blanks. The following photo shows all the noters and several spoons ready for carving.

Noters and spoons

I have a couple of projects in process for our home. The main one is another redwood burl side table. I made one nearly two years ago that’s next to our sofa, so now I’m making another for the other side. I picked up both redwood burls at the same time about four years ago. They were given to me by someone I met through Open Studios.

There is a large void I need to seal with a piece of maple, then I’ll insert three walnut “butterflies” over that. Several of my recent furniture pieces have legs that undulate and flow. This one will too.

RW-side table2   RW-sidetable legs-rungs

Five or six years ago I was contacted by a fellow in Hollister who had a barn full of wood he wanted to give away. I still have quite a few pieces left, including this large black walnut burl. Coffee table slabIt had an odd half-sawn projection on the back that kept me from doing anything with it. I finally used a hand saw and had it nearly cut off, when I heard my saw hit something awfully hard. I broke part of the projection off and found a large rock embedded in the wood. Of course, my hand saw was ruined. It will need some severe sharpening to get it going again.

Once I finally pried the rock out, I was able to use another hand saw and finish cutting the projection off. I plan to make a coffee table out of the burl.

Other News

I got one new piece of equipment late last year: a Craftsman 10-inch bandsaw. I Craftsman 10in bandsawhad an old 12-inch Craftsman that finally broke down after 30 years of continuous use. I do have a large bandsaw in my garage shop that I use for resawing, but I needed a smaller one in my studio for general cutting, like for prepping turning blocks.

I did a lot of research on 10-inch bandsaws, and this one and a Rikon were rated high. Both the Craftsman and Rikon were manufactured identically, but the Craftsman was always less expensive.


This has been a big year for restorations. I’ve had one or two zithers or ukuleles on my workbench at a time. Currently, I have a wonderful circa 1890-1900 Zimmerman autoharp that’s almost done. It’s actually made by Zimmerman for the Phonoharp Company. It’s also an unusual 8-chord bar autoharp known as the Model 72 7/8.

Zimmerman autoharp 72-7-8The real Model 72, made around the same time this was manufactured had 12 chord bars. Oscar Schmidt still makes the Model 72 today.

My other restoration project just arrived last month. It’s a beautiful harp-style concert zither that’s heavily inlaid with wood, mother of pearl, and abalone. Concert zither

It has some failed glue joints and a badly warped top. I’ll have to remove the back so I can steam the top flat from the underside. As soon as I finish up the autoharp, I’ll concentrate fully on the concert zither.


New bikeFor my birthday, my wife got me a new bicycle.

My old one, which I’d had for 20 years or more, never really fit me well, so I didn’t ride it very much.

While visiting our favorite bike shop for some items my wife, who is an avid bicyclist, I started looking around at the new bikes. One thing led to another, and the bike shop pulled a bike out and set it up to fit me. I tried it out, and found I loved it. My wife got it for me. I’ve ridden this bike more in the few months I’ve had it than the last few years on my old bike. Fun!

That’s about it for now. Again, Happy New Year to everyone out there. Here’s hoping that for all of you 2018 will be productive, healthy, and full of joy.