Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Muse is Back

My Muse seems to have come back from her holiday. After nearly a week of "crafter's block", I finally got inspired and started on two new instruments: a very small epinette des Vosges, based on an 1850 instrument that sold last year through an online dealer; and a trapezoidal psaltery, based on the small psalteries depicted in the 12th century Spanish illuminated manuscript, the Cantigas de Santa Maria.

I'm making both instruments with the beautiful old flamed white oak recently given to me by some friends. The wood came from a broken drop-leaf table that was probably made sometime in the 1950s. I doubt if it was older, since all the pieces were joined by dowels and not mortise-and-tenon (or dovetailed) like more expensive furniture. Fortunately, this was made with solid wood, and not veneered. The entire top was flamed oak. The gate legs and other "lower" parts were a nice quarter-sawn, straight-grained white oak.

That wood did get me thinking about how to use it. I called for my Muse and she came. Besides getting the ideas for the epinette and psaltery, I've set pieces aside for a symphony (ancient hurdy-gurdy, another based on the Cantigas de Santa Maria), and another mountain dulcimer. That still leaves several nice pieces left for future projects.

On a side note: that big fire that I mentioned on the last post is getting contained and people are being allowed to return to their homes. Unfortunately, a couple of houses did burn as well as several outbuildings. But fortunately, we didn't have the big winds that happen so often here and that can spread a fire a lot farther a lot faster, like what happened with the Loma Prieta fire on the other side of our small county a few weeks ago. That fire laid waste to four times the area and 10-20 times the homes and structures of the Martin (Bonny Doon) fire. It's too dry too soon here. Let's hope people in the mountains, or visiting the mountains, are aware and careful.

Remember what old Smoky has said for decades, "only you can prevent forest fires."

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