My “sculptural-functional” instruments, incorporating extraordinary craftsmanship with contemporary combinations of woods, create a modern rendering that draws from ancient roots. I personally handcraft each of my one-of-a-kind instruments to be a unique melding of art and music.
Throughout my entire life, I have so admired those who could create things of beauty. These “things of beauty” could be paintings or music or jewelry or poetry or musical instruments, etc. As I studied and taught history for over thirty years, again and again I came upon people in the past who had created beauty: Mozart, Shakespeare, Michelangelo to mention but a few. To me the truly awesome wonder of this is that artists are able, through their creation of “things of beauty,” to give pleasure and joy to people irrespective and independently of their own existence. We still thrill to the beauty created by Bach, Milton, and da Vinci, and they have been gone for centuries.
My creative passion, fueled by wood and music, led me in the mid-1970s to the making of fine wooden musical instruments. For my instrumments, I select the most beautiful, highly figured wood and burls available- woods with “character” that “tell” you that they want to be instruments and sing. (Wood has a way of speaking to you.) I split then bookmatch the pieces to create a mirror image effect that is often quite striking as well as using inlays of various materials that add to the creaation of unique, one-of-a-kind instruments. My mission is to create museum quality instruments in which the visual beauty of the wood, the haunting sound of the strings, and the subtle feel of the vibration wood combine to offer multisensory stimulation. In the tradition of the fine Old World craftsmen, I, alone, handcraft each of my instruments and personally sign, date and number each of my bowed psalteries and dulcimers.
I am not so arrogant and brash as to place myself among the ranks of the great masters, but I believe that I, too, create “things of beauty,” and that these things of beauty will give pleasure and joy to people now and long after I am gone. I can think of no greater honor than this, for I will have made a difference in the lives of people.
The poet Keats summed it up best when he wrote, “A Thing of Beauty is a Joy forever.”
Archie Smith Instruments