Friday, 27 January 2012

Dreamharp Day 1

Have you ever held onto something for such a long period of time, that when you finally release it, your fingers are aching?  That is me right now.  I have been holding a chisel in one hand and a mallet in the other for quite a few hours today.  My feet are also aching from standing all day, and I can feel my body starting to stiffen.  I still have two more days to go, and if you haven't read my previous post, then you will have no idea what I am talking about.

I like relaxing music, I like feeling the vibration of music going through your body, and I like to play music.  I found out about a course where you can make dreamharps.  The harp is made to sit flush on your body so that you can feel the vibrations, and it is pentatonic, so you can play anything on it.

Here is my photo diary of today.  It started at 8:30am and it was already 27 degrees.  Not sure what it got to though.  The prediction was around 40 degrees, but it definitely wasn't that.  It was warm enough though.  There are only two of us taking the class, so we get a lot of help from Nis.

First we chose the wood.  Mine is red gum.  You will see that there is a knot in the wood.  I was hoping to make it a feature, it's causing me more grief than anything.

We then drew our image on with chalk.  This was just a test run as this image will be removed with (I think) a circular drill.  It was a large circular drill bit anyway. 

Nis used mine as an example piece so we drilled out only a small section so that he could show us how to chip away the sides with the mallet and the chisel.  He only did a small section of mine.  When I told him not to stop, he just laughed and handed me the tools.  This photo below was taken because my arm was already aching so much with the hammering.  I realised though, that it was because I was holding my arm close to my body.  Once I held it out, I had no issues.

This is just a closer view of the above stage.  Nis said it was like cutting butter.  Personally I thought it was more like trying to hammer a wooden stake into a concrete slab.  You soon learn that you have to go with the grain and not against it.  Due to the fact that this is curved, it is not that simple.  Like Nis explained, you end up dancing around a bit in order to find the right direction.

We work on three levels.  This next photo is the top level all gone.  The next level will be the raised design and the final level will be removing the excess around the design.  This photo shows the top level removed.  I didn't like my initial design.  It didn't feel right and it looked too much like a Picasso chicken.  I chose to go with leaves.

This is where we start to work on removing as much as the final layer as possible.  The drill ended up with a smaller router circle on it, and we went as close as possible to the design without touching it.  After that it was up to me to remove the excess via hammer and chisel.  The sides have to be curved to allow for maximum sound and vibration.  That was actually quite hard, because you need complete control over the chisel (which I don't have), follow the grain, chisel almost straight down and then curve out at the bottom and keep going to get rid of the drill marks. 

What I can't understand is when Nis was demonstrating on my harp, he always chose the easier areas.  Or at least, he made it look that way.  Below is the small area he work on to show how to get around the design.

By 4pm I was buggered.  Don't get me wrong, I am totally enjoying the experience.  I am just unfit and sit all day at a desk so standing up all day hammering at wood, can take it's toll.

This is what it looked like when I left.  I am sure you can pick out the nice smooth area that Nis did, to demonstrate how to start to finish it off.  The knot is between the top two leave and driving me nuts.  I think it was because I left it till last, by which time I was tired.  Bright and early start tomorrow.  Apparently it is going to be 40 degrees and minus the lovely cloud cover we had today.

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