Monday, May 18, 2009

The Pipers are Comin’ (again)

Heat. Cold. Heat. Cold. Mother Nature can’t seem to set her thermometer to the right temperature yet. We just had three beautiful warm days, in the 70s and 80s here (90s to 100s over the hill), and today the fog came in and it didn’t get up past 55.

I’m in the process of finishing up another of my “Memling” psalteries. Today, I polished the first of two and got it ready so I can start stringing it up, which I’ll do tomorrow. I want to have it all done for the Santa Cruz Art League 90th Birthday Art Fair this Me at SCAL-Art previewMemorial Day Weekend, May 23-24 (10-6pm each day). That’s me in the photo at the Art Fair Preview section of the Art League 90th Birthday reception with my newly completed small medieval-style harp.

One of my “long-term” projects, which is my final “Chapter  House” instrument, is a portative pipe organ. I’ve been working on test pieces for over a year now, and got several wood pipes of both hard and soft woods to make sweet “tooting” sounds. A few months ago, I found a self-published booklet on how to make small portative pipe organs. I purchased it and immediately started re-thinking my own designs.

Gluing pipesI’ve now started on a complete new organ, in, of course, the medieval style, with 16 pipes tuned in a diatonic (major) scale. The pipe block (on the left in photo) is cut and sanded and laid out for drilling. I’m making new pipes (in clamps in photo), using the measurements from the book I got, all out of thin pieces of maple.

I do have a few other projects going (actually, 4 or 5), so the pipe organ will be filling in time as the glue or finish dries on my regular stringed instruments. However, I do want to have it completed before the year is over.

If any readers of this blog are in Santa Cruz on Memorial Day Weekend, stop by the Santa Cruz Art League’s 90th Birthday Celebrations and Art Fair, 526 Broadway, Santa Cruz. It’s just off Ocean Street, which is the main drive to the Beach and Boardwalk Amusement Park. I’m in Booth #1.

Again, onward through the fog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Harping on It a Little

Whew! After a few weeks of rain and cold that kept me out of my partially-heated studio for most of the time, we’re now experiencing our more typical May weather of sun, some fog, and some warmth. (Warm in Santa Cruz is anytime the temperature is over 65 degrees.) The warmer days make it better for glues to set well and for finishes to dry more efficiently.

Because of the nice days, I was able to finally finish the small, medieval-style harp I’d been trying to complete for the last month. It is approximately 75% salvaged wood. The back is coopered, like old wooden barrel and tank staves, and made from Harp-5 strips of poplar and black walnut. The soundboard, post and peg “beam” are maple.  I call it “Mercury, The Winged Messenger.” It has 15 nylon strings, tuned diatonically, two octaves, in a C-major scale.

The poplar came from a friend who had been contracted to remove the tree, and he gave me several good two foot long logs that I milled and let dry a few years. The black walnut strips and binding are all scrap from previous projects. The maple soundboard is also scrap. I re-milled some small pieces of maple to 1/8 inch thick, and glued it top-to-bottom, so the grain runs horizontally. Harp-head1

Just yesterday, I finished a small stand so the harp can be displayed upright. Actually, I finished it just in time to take everything to the Santa Cruz Art League to put on display for the 90th Birthday show and Art Fair, May 23 and 24th. I’ll be exhibiting at the Art Fair in Booth 1. Hope to see you all there!

Warm weather beckons. Time to head back to the studio.

Onward through the fog!