September 7, 2012 by archiesmith

Dear Friends,

WELL, IT FINALLY HAPPENED!  After working with wood and making instruments since the mid 1970’s, on Friday, Aug, 23, it finally happened.  I was cutting some pieces on the table saw when, in a split second, I was staring down at three bloody fingers dangling by thin strips of flesh and a mangled little finger on my right hand.  It happened so fast that I really don’t know how it happened.  I do distinctly recall thinking, and perhaps uttering, some pointedly unkind thoughts regarding the specific circumstances which had befallen me.

I wound up in Charlotte in the care of a group hand specialist surgeons who told me candidly that I might very well lose all four fingers, but under the best case scenario I was facing a long, frustrating path of surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy and that he and I were going to become very familiar with each other.

On Tuesday, the 28th I emerged from a medicinally induced haze in the ICU.  The surgeons had operated on my hand for 5 hours.  They were not able to save one of my fingers – which will somewhat limit my ability to communicate effectively, if you know what I mean (can still use my little finger in those cases where I do not care enough to send the very best)- but were able, at least so far, to fuse bone, shorten and save three fingers.  So the journey of recuperation has begun.  Fortunately the thumb was untouched.

I do not yet know what is going to happen to my art fair schedule for the rest of the year, but – “Oh, the unkindest cut of all,” I did have to drop out of Long’s Park and all Sept. shows, and the possibility exists, depending on what the doctor says, that I may have to drop all shows until 2013.  He told me quite plainly that, while things were going well now, the next 1-2 months were critical and that if I was not very careful with my hand, I could very easily lose the two fingers that he has re-attached.  As you can imagine, this captured my serious attention.

To quote, however, the indomitable Gen. MacArthur, “I SHALL RETURN”.  I have NOT lost my skill, nor my experience, and I WILL adapt my muscle and eye coordination and, by hook or crook, I will come back.  ( hmmm, perhaps those were not the most judicious terms that I could have used.)  I am going to take care of myself, listen to the doctor and the physical therapist and “keep my fingers crossed”.  (Opps, the physical therapist hasn’t yet assigned that exercise .)

This “down time” is giving me time for serious reflection on the future.  I have just reached my 69th birthday and, while I have been blessed/cursed with a true love for this business, I know that I cannot go on indefinitely.  So, here’s the deal, at present I have a good supply of bowed psalteries already in stock.  For the future, I am going to create fewer, but higher end psalteries.  There are psaltery makers out there who make very nice functional instruments.  With the materials, inlays etc. that I use, I cannot compete with them pricewise, nor do I wish to.  I am going to concentrate on building truly unique, one-of-a-kind, heirloom instruments that are not just functional instruments, but are functional pieces of art.  This will allow me to grow, be able to “spread my creative wings” and concentrate more on the creation of these truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of musical art.   This will also create a niche, which, to the best of my knowledge, is virgin territory.

I would appreciate any kind, “healing” thoughts which you may feel inclined to send my way.

Archie Smith

Archie Smith Instruments

6590 hwy 73 E

Mt. Pleasant, NC  28124

704 436 8477  home

704 796 8309  cell.

7 responses to “IT FINALLY HAPPENED”

  1. Chris Hughes says:

    Dearest Archie:

    You have got to know that we love you dearly and were so saddened to learn that this has happened. We really felt at first that you were gonna have a harder time with this than it appears from your blog that you think you’ll have. Ronnie and I wonder if there is anything we can do to help you along your way? I’m just sort of a pain in the “u hummm” for Ronnie half the time so he can do without me for sure for some time. Do you have things that need doing I could do for you, Archie?

    336 359 2600

    You have always been the most incredible art show friend and friend in general. We’ve got our prayers going out to you that you will behave yourself during this incredible time.

    Love always
    Chris and Ronnie

  2. Mary says:


    As an occupational therapist and music lover, I’m familiar with the challenges of rehabilitating severely injured hands of both carpenters and musicians. I’ve also seen miraculous recoveries! Hang in there and follow your therapist’s advice. May God Bless you as you heal!!! Mary

  3. Archie – I don’t think we have ever met, though I have been at the Long’s Park Festival a few times in the past. I was dismayed to hear your story, and wanted to wish you the very best in your recovery. I hope the miracles of modern medicine align for you and bring you back to where you feel whole again, in body and in spirit.
    I have wondered at times, what I would do if I could no longer paint. I can’t imagine it. My thoughts are with you. Your attitude and determination are inspiring!
    Unless your physical therapist has prescribed typing as an exercise for you, please don’t feel you need to respond!

  4. Cindy and Jim says:


    We were so sorry to hear of your accident. We hope that you will take it easy and do as the doctors have instructed. The last thing you need to worry about is attending craft fairs. We a sure that Rosie will keep you in line.

    You know that I have told you that you shouldn’t drink and work with the power equipment. This comment does deserve the “salute;” however, you are now relegated to a “mini-salute.”

    In all seriousness—we hope that your recover will go as the doctors have planned and that you will be back doing what you love in the not too distant future.

    Believe it or not we are getting older and we need to take the time to reflect on what we want to do with our remaining years. We have decided to travel as much as we can until we cannot do it anymore or until the money runs out (in this economy that might be the determining factor). We know that during this recuperative time you will, along with Rosie, decide what you want to do with your future.

    We hope once you are able to travel that you will venture back to the mountains for a visit. I so enjoyed visiting with you and Rosie when you came to the gathering at the Times Square.

    Again, we are so sorry to hear of your accident and hope for you a speedy recovery.

    Cindy and Jim

  5. Dear Archie Im so sorry you had this life changing accident & damaged your fingers which you use for all your art works! it also happened to Chick Dinofrio who works in leather from CT Sugarloaf Shows)
    we have been in many shows with you Including SLM next to Julie your assistant and last year at Philly folk fest!
    I wish you the best recovery and soon as I get a few extra $$ send you s donation!
    john t crutchfield

  6. Cindy Helton Shepard says:

    Well, well- I guess the saying ” no news is good news” is true! I am so sorry to hear of your woodworking accident. Take it from someone that has twelve screws in her ankle- please, please take it slow and easy. After I broke my ankle, I remember thinking what would it be like to walk again? I was on crutches for 4 months. But- because I did take it slow and easy, I have much more movement in that foot and ankle than the doctors ever expected. I am happy to hear that you have begun to re-work your future. That’s a really good thing. Remember, slow and easy does it! You will be in my heart and prayers!

    Your favorite student, (just kidding)

    Cindy Helton Shepard

    (Gan- to my 23 mo. old grandson)

  7. Hi Archie,

    I saw a post from Bill Kinney about your hand accident and have thought about you many times in the past week.
    Can’t imagine how frightening,frustrating and overwhelming this accident has been for you. I am so glad to read the surgeons were able to save save some of your fingers and you are keeping your vision for the future practical and spirited about returning to work! Your work is beautiful and amazing and I hope you can continue to create when the time is right.

    Sending you thoughts of strength and peace during recovery,

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