Monday, October 10, 2016

Making Progress

First, I want to thank so many of you for commenting, supporting, lifting me up when I was feeling a bit down the last time I wrote. While it wasn't my intention to solicit such kind words, I appreciate them more than you can know. After hearing so many stories from lady friends who have had similar experiences, I know the bigger issue of inequality won't resolve overnight, but I felt I wanted to address that it happens, however unintentionally, in more places than we care to see.

The past few weeks have felt like the opposite of the weeks prior. I have had visitors stop by the shop specifically to see me and what I am working, received Facebook messages from folks asking me my opinion on how they should attack certain guitar projects of their own, a good friend played one of my guitars at an incredible show she did with another great friend. Oh, and there was a little story on that that national NPR show, All Things Considered...

Walnut sisters
For the past couple of weeks I have been working on a batch of three guitars, numbered 39-41, which I know is ambitious but I want so badly to make instruments for everyone who wants one that I hope to step up production a little bit. If you were wondering, the three guitars are a koa OM-42, a Claro walnut 000-41, and a Black walnut 0-41. The system of doing three at a time has been working just fine so far but I have yet to get to the finishing stage. The sanding, spraying, and then sanding some more gets pretty tiring with just one, so I'll let you know how this turns out when I try to work on three. Perhaps I should try to find some sanding interns or something...Write this up: Seeking determined, detail oriented person with literally nothing better to do to than hand sand between seven (or more if you mess up) coats of finish on a batch of homemade guitars. It's harder than it looks, so must be attentive and able to learn. No pay, probably no school credit either...but I'll let you play with the mongoose that lives in the shop which is, in my opinion, a priceless experience. Only for a few minutes though because there is all that finish to sand.


My favorite part about these three guitars is that their owners asked me to cut intricate inlays for the fingerboards of each one. It required more difficult work and time, but I always enjoy coming up with new designs that compliment each of my customers. The owner of the Black walnut 0-41 I am working on sent me pictures of her favorite ceramic pieces featuring art nouveau vines and decoration along their bodies. I used the pictures to draw inspiration for a vine climbing the fingerboard.


As far as media coverage goes, it is difficult for me to grasp the reach of NPR's show All Things Considered. I listen most days, but that's just me, sitting in my corner making instruments. Audie Cornish is just telling me stories, right? Who would listen to one about me if I weren't there to hear? It was especially unnerving when several minutes after our story aired my phone was beeping and buzzing with messages of friends all over the country saying they heard it. In all honesty. I didn't hear it until the next day because the Roanoke station chose that time slot to work on their fund raising efforts. It was pretty overwhelming to know so many of my friends and family, not to mention the strangers I had never met, heard it but I had no idea how crazy I sounded.

The thing is, most news stories that I am in are really about my dad, where I just happen to be standing nearby. I was completely surprised and amazed to hear that story and especially to hear Vince Gill say such kind things about me and my instruments. (What?!!) I want to thank my friend and fellow Roanoke Catholic alum Desiré Moses for her excellent job of reporting (and for her skilled editing to make me sound less like an idiot than I actually do in real life). I honestly can't thank her enough for coming down from Roanoke and spending the afternoon at the shop with us.

So the guitar progress is on pause for a week because I am home working on a little ukulele, and then am headed to San Diego this weekend to attend the 2016 Fretboard Journal Summit. I am going to tell some stories of working with my dad and learning how to build guitars. I am also excited to visit with fellow builders, hopefully learn a thing or two, and most importantly, meet new friends. Come hang out and be my friend!

1 comment:

  1. Elle, this is inspirational stuff. I am friends with another friend of your family who first told me about your instruments, and I have been watching as you took on more and more. Your instruments are lovely, and you have a great critic and sounding board in your father. Keep up the good and beautiful work.

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