I am back in Boston after spending a month in Florida teaching my sister how to make a dulcimer guitar.
Two years ago I talked her into taking a two- week furniture class at The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship while I taught a turning class. She picked me up at the Windgate Residency I was in at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and we drove to Maine together. I was starting to make instruments and brought two with me. I had a beginning guitar book and she devoured it. Before the two weeks were over she had purchased a guitar. In the last two years she has become really good. The passion I feel for making the instruments, she feels for playing them. It was exciting to be at her house helping her set up shop and teaching her what I have discovered over the last 2 years. Working with her reminded me once again of what I love about teaching craft: focus, patience, and tenacity, mixed with materials, lead to an object. In this case an object that could be experienced a whole different way for her when she was done. I liked watching her play each one, and hearing her opinions about the sound and look. When we sold the first one and packed it for shipping it was really exciting for her. There is something amazing about making an object that will travel to some unknown place in the world and have a life you will know nothing about. I have always loved making things for a living, and like to teach people that their own hands can support them emotionally and fiscally.
First orders go out the door
I have started conceiving of the way I will approach Tuning Around America. I taught with Peter Park this summer for the second time and we started discussing ways that we could teach weekend classes at different craft centers and woodworking shops. In June I started teaching my Sister how to make the instrument I developed this winter at CFC. The Strumpet is a dulcimer guitar that anyone could play upon picking it up. I know this because it is the only instrument I ever picked up that I could play immediately from reading numbers in a book. My Sister Laura came to my shop in Boston in June and learned the beginning steps. Now I am in Florida at her new shop finishing the instruments we started. A version of this instrument can be made by a non woodworker in a weekend. That makes it the perfect teaching tool. Laura and I are making our first 25 a certain way and the next time we get together we will make them another way. I burn an original drawing into each one. we will not make more than fifty a year. My part of the sales will go to my ongoing life project of empowering people through the act of hand making and my Sister will use her profits to improve her shop and get the tools for more instrument making. Our new project is called strumfactory.com check it out. here are some pictures from this week.
One of the great topics of the summer was why are there not more women in woodturning and woodworking. I jumped in head first in June teaching multiple rotations in the Women’s Turning Room at the Atlanta Woodturning Symposium. I met many new woman eager to learn and take the information taught back to their communities. The new group, Women In Turning or W.I.T. has also started a face Book page which is very active. Local groups are forming and getting together for exchange of skill and support in a male dominated craft. I think this group has brought more awareness to the idea that the woodworking fields need to be more inclusive to gender, race and age.
In July I had the honor of teaching my first all woman Woodturning class. It was really wonderful and extremely controversial. Only Peters Valley would entertain the idea of the class (female director). I feel my job is to teach skills and instill enough confidence for these woman to feel comfortable joining in at local clubs and events. I believe I succeeded. Here are some pictures:
I purchased My new van in the spring and already have traveled 8000 miles. It has been a wonderful spring and summer. I taught 1 class at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship, 2 classes at Peters Valley Craft School, and One class at Arrowmont. I demonstrated at the Atlanta Wood turning Symposium, participated in Echo Lake, was one of the guest artists at Peters Valley Annual event. After these events I arrived home to Boston and completed a bunch of Architectural turning, and an apartment renovation. My Sister and I started working on our new instrument making project in June and August 29 I had Knee Replacement Surgery. I am still recovering. What a wonderful year it has been! I am enjoying this down time to think and plan. Here are some highlights-
Instrument Class at Peters Valley
Column Job in June
Making Instruments at Peters Valley
Echo Lake Artist Collaboration
Turning Around America will now be just me. I will continue empowering people through hand making and Jenn will do her art projects with ,Sanctuary. You can follow her on her Word Press Blog , Jenn Moller-Unbidden.
I am On the road again! I finished my residency at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship. It was a wonderful experience and I really developed a great sounding instrument. My new Turning Around America Project will be about ,Tuning Around America. The goal will be to teach hand making through simple stringed instruments. I purchased a new van in April and have already renovated it. I am on my way to Atlanta to teach how to make instruments with the lathe. I just completed the second night of my maiden voyage and it was great!. The new van is bigger and more organized, experience helped me create a better design. Here are some pictures.
New next to old
made these vents for the windows
view from my bedroom this morning
first thing I saw when leaving van
My new instruments
This has been a very interesting winter for me. I have been in Maine at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship teaching wood turning, carving, and box making, but mostly working on musical instruments. I started this exploration over a year ago. Inspired by The video of the Children’s Orchestra of Paraguay I started making instruments during a residency I did at Merrimack high, in Merrimack New Hampshire, and continued for 5 months during a Windgate Residency at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have made at least 60 instruments so far. When I began I wanted to only make stringed instruments from found objects and scrap wood. During my recent exploration of the stick dulcimer I have purchased materials as well as utilizing scrap. I feel like my time here this winter has been a trip down the rabbit hole. I have learned bending techniques, and been inspired by wonderful colleagues like Yuri Kobayashi, Bruce Beacon, Asher Dunn and Brian McAlpine. The CFC has provided us with an amazing studio and I have been working night and day. I will be teaching stringed instrument making at 2 venues this spring and summer-May 16-20 at Snow Farm in Western Mass, and the end of July with my friend Peter Park at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton New Jersey. I am really interested in the sculptural and kinetic nature of instrument making. I am really excited to have the opportunity to share what I have learned. Here are some pictures of work I have been doing the last 3 months.
new 6 string guitar in progress
Mandolin Case in Progress
Last weekend I taught a wonderful group of adults at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship how to make bandsaw boxes. It was really fun. With a little instruction the students were able to come up with some wonderful designs. Here are some pictures.
On Wednesday I taught a group of 8th grade math students how to use geometry in turning. I introduced turning and they all made 5 cylinders. This was to get them used to the idea of putting things on and off the lathe and using the tool rest as a straight edge guide. Then all the students marked the end of wood cylinders, offset, so that everyone could turn an ellipse. Once that was accomplished we marked the ends of another cylinder and made triangles. The kids were great! Just so they could have a functional item to take home we made the ellipses into whistles. Here are some pictures.