Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One Down, Six to Go!

The pile of mini hog-nose psalteries is slowly going down. I finally completed the first of the seven, have four more to polish, and two just getting their first coatings of tung oil. Whew! 

First mini done The mini hog-nose psaltery I finished yesterday is the one that’s larger than the others. It’s a full 2 inches wider, so it has longer string length and a bright resonating tone. The top and back are ziricote, which is a highly figured hard wood found in Central America, from Southern Mexico to Belize. I usually don’t use exotic woods, unless they’re salvaged, but I bought this beautiful stuff around 15 years ago thinking I’d use it on a guitar. (I stopped making guitars nearly 8 years ago.) The frame, bridges, and binding are maple. I’ll be recording some sound clips after I complete a few of the standard-size mini psalteries. I also plan to try stringing one with brass and perhaps another with gut, just to hear what they’ll sound like. If I’m happy with the sound, I’ll also record them.

Meanwhile, in the shop:

Clamping bridges on last miniI glued the bridges on the last of the seven mini hog-nose psalteries the other day.



Hung out to dryYesterday, I put the last coat of tung oil on four more of the mini psalteries. Today, I put the first coat on the last two.



Busy workbench

Waiting in the wings are several other instruments in the middle of construction or nearing completion. My newest dulcimer, which is nearly done, is “Barbara Allen”. She’s all black walnut with a pine and black walnut fingerboard. Her pegs, which still need carving, will be maple. In the background in the above picture is the “Chapter House Portative Organ”. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the pipes are done and voiced, but not yet tuned. The body is together, but I still need to carve the tall side walls. Not in the picture is another instrument based on the Chapter House wall paintings, the “Chapter House Harp”. There has been a lot of carving to do on it, and there’s still more. It’s taken a long time to finish it up. One of these days…

In the back of my mind are several ideas for new instruments and sound sculptures. (That’s probably why I have a headache.) However, I really need to finish most everything that’s in process before starting on something new. But who knows? I might just have to jump right into working on one of those ideas right away. Anything’s possible. As I always say, “onward through the fog.” (Or, as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “it’s always something.”)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Psaltery after psaltery after psaltery…

I finally completed the third and final Hans Memling-style hog nose psaltery. Where my others had 21 to 22 strings spaced approximately 5/8” apart, Memling #3 has 29 strings at 1/2” apart. It is a full 4-octave diatonic instrument. Because of the high Memling3-b-72tension of the strings, I used steel strings instead of nylon. It has a very full rich tone and is capable of being played in all the modal scales. It has a salvaged redwood top and black walnut back. The rosettes are maple and black walnut. As I mentioned, this is another psaltery Angels Making Music-Hans Memling-lowbased on the painting by Hans Memling, “Angels Making Music”, the image is a detail of the full altar painting, which is quite wide and narrow and looks almost like medieval Cinerama. Because this is a Flemish painting, the detail is quite exquisite. You can actually count the strings on most of  the instruments. I haven’t made plans, yet, to do any other instruments depicted in the painting.

One psaltery down, seven more to go. Or rather, seven smaller ones to go.

My mini hog-nose psalteries have been very popular for several years, and I completely sold out in 2008. Also in 2008, I picked up quite a bit of salvaged lumber and sale pieces from my local Mini-Hog-Nose gluedhardwood dealer, so I ripped and cut enough last week to put together seven more of the little instruments. It’s taken a few days, but I now have all of the frames made and the backs sanded and glued on. My small workshop was wall-to-wall psalteries yesterday.

Meanwhile, I have another dulcimer about ready to sand down and complete—probably in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

Yes, it’s been very foggy. Onward through it.