Saturday, September 15, 2018

Open Studios 2018

It’s that time of year again. Cold season? (Yes, I am almost over a cold.) No, it’s Open Studios season. Time to start planning your tour.

Open Studios ImageThe free guide and map is now available at many locations throughout Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties. It will also be included in the Good Times entertainment newspaper. A free app (or upgrade if you have installed the app before) will be available October 1st through the Apple App Store or Google Play. I am artist number 259 in the Guide and App.

For people visiting from out of town, make it a weekend (or three)! The Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, as they say on their web site”, …partnered with Openstudios18 PostcardHotel Paradox to bring an artful lodging experience to your Open Studios adventure. Request the "Arts Council" rate and save 15%. Reserve online using promo code 13701 or call 877-425-7100. You can also email to request a guide be shipped to you.”

Open Studios runs the first three weekends in October. South County is first this year on October 6 and 7. North County (me) is next on October 13 and 14. (The Artist Guide and Maps show locations.) The Encore Weekend is the entire county, and many studios will be open October 20 and 21.

The best way to plan your tour is to first visit the Santa Cruz Art League to see the Open Studios Preview Exhibit. Work from nearly all Open Studios artists will be on display September 29 through October 21. Meet the artists at a reception at the Art League on September 30th from 3 to 6pm.

New Work

Here’s a sampling of new work that you will see when you visit me during Open Studios. (Or other times by appointment.)

Three Psalteries

These are three new medieval-style psalteries I recently completed. The first is the very popular “Cantigas de Santa Maria Psaltery”. I’ve sold all I’ve made and wanted another available for Open Studios. It is maple and black walnut. The middle instrument is a wing-style psaltery, based on an image in a medieval illuminated manuscript. The last photo is a smaller version of the popular “hog-nose” psaltery.

Live-edge vessel1I’m still working on quite a few sculptures, and just finished this lidded vessel sculpture. This is a salvaged piece of black walnut that was removed from a much larger piece. When sawing through the larger piece to remove this “lump”, I hit a rock that was embedded in the original tree the walnut came from. One very dull saw later, I was able to pull this piece off. The shape intrigued me, so I carved it into this vessel and reinserted the rock. The lid is also black walnut and has a tagua nut handle. The voids in the piece are filled with a turquoise-colored epoxy called Inlace.


I was excited around six weeks ago by an email I received from the Wharton Esherick Museum in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Trestle Stool 1One of my pieces was accepted in the annual woodworking show at the museum. This year’s theme is “Stools”, and my “Medieval Trestle Stool” was chosen from around 200 applications. Only 18 stools are in the show. I feel very fortunate to be in this show at this location. (This is actually my second acceptance for this annual show.)

For those not familiar with Wharton Esherick, here is a link to the museum web site with a description of the great woodworker and designer.

Well, that’s about it for now. I hope to see you all at the Santa Cruz Art League for the Open Studios Preview Exhibition reception on September 30 and at my own Open Studio on October 13, 14, 20, 21.


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.