My First Blog

August 19, 2007 by archiesmith

Hi folks and welcome to my web site! I am “kinda new” to “blogging”, but here goes.

I have been having a great summer going to shows, meeting people and showing my instruments. One of the biggest “kicks” that I get out of playing my instruments for people is to see their faces when they hear the bowed psaltery for the first time. The look of amazement on their faces is great and especially when they pull the bow across the strings for the first time themselves and realize that, yes, they really did make it sing.

Something else that I enjoy is to play the theme from Star Wars when a group of kids walk by the booth and watch their heads snap around toward me with a grin of recognition on their faces. That is fun. Another thing that I really enjoy is to get the small children to “help” me play “Twinkle, Twinkle”. They hold one end of the bow and I hold the other and we play. The look on their faces is absolutely priceless (and the look on Mom and Dad’s face is not bad either). These rewards of doing shows and meeting people, while non-tangible, are very real. (Selling instruments is gratifying as well, needless to say.)

Speaking of selling instruments, one of the questions that people often ask me is, “Having spent so much time and effort in making the instruments, isn’t it hard for you to let one go?” My response is – absolutely not. True, there are untold hours (I truly do not know how many) and much tender loving care that go into each instrument, but I make them for a purpose. Each of my instruments is created with a mandate or mission. That mission or purpose is to bring pleasure and joy to those who play it and to those who hear it. That is why I make them. (To those of my generation who grew up with Star Trek, this is their “Prime Directive.”) The result of this is that when I sell one (-actually, I think of it more as an adoption-) I am launching it on its mission.

As you can tell from my web site, I have launched a new series of Bowed Psalteries and Dulcimers known as the Signature Series. You can read about the Signature Series elsewhere on the site, but I wanted to mention how much fun I am having with the inlaying. Inlaying and, in some cases, engraving the inlay provide an entirely new stage for me to express my creativity with the instruments. As you may well imagine, makers of musical instruments are limited, due to acoustic necessity, in the expression of their creativity. Inlaying and engraving allows the expression of creativity without encroaching upon acoustic requirements.

I must tell you of a new project that I am very excited about. (Here comes a “plug”.) Carolina Designer Craftsmen (CDC), of which I am a member, has launched a new program that should take our annual Crafts Fair –and our work-to a new level. This new program is called the “Masterworks Program”. This is a program in which the artist creates his/her “dream piece”. This piece takes much longer to make, stretches the artists creativity and takes his/her work to a new level. One of the conditions of creating a piece for this program is that it must be shown, for the FIRST time at the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Show – this year’s dates are November 23-25 (the weekend after Thanksgiving) in Raleigh at the State Fairgrounds.

About my piece in the Masterworks Program – (I think that this is called a “tease”) My piece will be a bowed psaltery. It will be the same size and shape as my other psalteries due to the above mentioned “acoustic necessity,” but there will be significant inlaying and engraving on the front. I started on it in June and will have it ready by November. The frame will be black walnut, the back will be curly claro walnut and the top will be curly Yucatan ebony. The inlay materials will be Holly, Ebony, Ivory (legal), Wooly Mammoth Ivory, gold Mother of Pearl, etc. The theme of the piece will be ….OOPS, can’t tell. Come to the CDC Show Thanksgiving Weekend and see for yourself and see all the wonderful “Masterworks” from other artists.

I have just gotten in and bookmatched some fantastic new woods – Curly Yucatan Katalox (dark purple and gold), Amboyna burl (SE Asia), Thuya Burl (Moroccan burl that grows underground), and curly Koa (Hawaiian). I already have gotten in some Red Mallee burl (Australian –thought by many to be the world’s most beautiful wood) and Brown Mallee burl (also Australian). I should have some of these finished by late October or early November.

As you can see, am staying busy. Check my show schedule and come by to see me if I am in your area. My next show is the Philadelphia Folk Festival. If you have any questions, comments or just want to say something, please e-mail me using the contact me link below .

Thanks for reading this and, until my next blog, may peace and joy be yours.

Archie Smith

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