Thursday, January 22, 2009

B-a-a B-a-a Black Sheep...

The first month of 2009 is speeding by and is almost over. In the last few weeks I was able to finish three of the instruments that I started after Open Studios last October. With guests, holidays, traveling, and the big business and web site change from Coog Instruments to Ron Cook Studios, I felt guilty for not spending enough time in the studio. I just have to keep telling myself that there's not enough hours in the day to do everything. Plus, I have to stop to smell the roses once in a while--and sleep.

New Work

Ram-baaa-head detail2Well, I'm awake now.

I've shown little bits of some of my new works, and now you can see the finished pieces. My newest pride is called "The Black Sheep". It's the third of my banjo-dulcimers. Like the others, this  one is almost 100% salvaged and recycled wood. The neck is laminated lacewood and zebrawood, more woods from a Ram-baaa1local spear gun maker (for diving sport fishermen), with a maple fingerboard (the only new wood). The rim is mahogany, cut from an old patio table. The back is olive, poplar, and maple. The olive came from a tree cut down to make way for a  new house across the street from us. The poplar was from logs given to me by a friend. The maple was scrap. The top is 125+ year old Douglas fir, salvaged from a Portland, Oregon, warehouse that was torn down. The body is larger than the previous banjo-dulcimers and has a much deeper tone. It's very easy and fun to play.

My other two pieces are nearly identical. They are the second and third of my Cantigas Psaltery series. The surface wood is all  Cantigas-psaltery2arecycled white oak, like the first one, that came from an  old broken drop-leaf table some friends gave me. Bindings are purpleheart, on one, and black walnut on the other. These small psalteries have 15 nylon strings (two diatonic octaves) and have a pleasant harp-like tone.

Coming Up

I've returned to the carving of my Chapter House Harp. I've been working on this off and on for the last few years. Originally, I was carving not only a face, but braids and decorations all the way down the harp's post. It got a little overwhelming, and I put it away for a while. Recently I re-thought the design and came up with a lovely and more traditional look. It's going to be a spectacular piece. More on that later.

I'm also working on another test piece for my Chapter House Portative Organ. I'm trying a different key and wind chest design, and I thing this one will work much better than the first. More on that later too.

In March I'll be heading for Scottsdale, Arizona, for the Scottsdale Arts Festival. It's held in the Civic Plaza Park area March 2o-22. It occurs during baseball's spring training and is one block from the Giants training field. If you're there for the baseball, or if you're vacationing, or if you live there, come on by and see the great arts and crafts at the Festival. My booth number will be available soon.

Once again, for now, onward through the fog.

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