From the Studio: Variations on a Theme

Welcome back to my piano art studio. Today I’d like to share with you a piece that may possibly be described as a “happy accident.”

The theme

In a previous article I told you about “Middle C,” which is made using the keys C, D, and E, with the sharps between them, mounted to a piece of wood cut from the piano cabinet, and framed with the key extensions. This is the theme for what would turn out to be a variation.

When I make “Middle C,” I usually make them in batches of five or more. They sell quickly, so I like to have several on hand. I start by cutting the wood to the 7″ x 10″ pieces, then I sand each one until the edges are nice and smooth. Next, I select the key extensions that will form the frame around the edge of the wood, measure, mark, cut, and sand them. When that is done, I select the flanges and letoff buttons that I wish to use for these pieces and check to be sure their a good fit. Then, when all the pieces have been assembled, I take them outside to apply a spray varnish.

The variation

The key extensions are cut specifically for each individual piece of wood, since exact measurements may vary a little from one to the other. For that reason, I like to stack them together with the boards to which they were cut.

One day, while in the process of making a fresh batch of Middle C’s, a brand new idea came to me. To keep from them, I had arranged the key extensions in such a way on top of each panel that they formed a sort of diagonal, rather than leaving them along the edges. It struck me that this arrangement was actually quite beautiful and could stand on its own as unique design. Then, rather than using keys to complete the view, I placed a hammer across the whole.

It wasn’t long before I realized that these too could be customized, by adding an ivory keytop tail in the space beside the hammer. This opens the door for a myriad of possibilities.

The name

Since this design is a variation of that used to create “Middle C,” I decided to call it “Variations on a Theme.” In fact, I’m listening even now to Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 35. In my mind, I see the name written on one of the many albums my mother had in her collection.

The finish

As with the “Middle C,” on the back I add a half-sheet “Story behind the art,” a sawtooth hanger, and two felt bumpers on the bottom corners (a.k.a. key rail punchings), and with that the piece is finished.

How can I make it mine?

Variations on a Theme” is available in my shop.

♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬

Thank you for joining me on this tour of the studio. I look forward to seeing you on the next one. Until then, I invite you to check out photos of my other work in the gallery. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Published by Angela Umphers Rueger

Hello. I am a joyful wife and mother of three, just turned loose the last of my little chicks, and getting ready to spread my own writing wings. Twenty-six years ago I earned a B.A. in English because my heart's desire was to write. Since that time I've worked as a teacher, musician, cleaning lady, tax professional, and artist, but never as a writer. In the past year, several friends have encouraged me to pick up the baton and run with it. By creating this blog, I took the first baby step toward becoming a published author. The journey will likely be longer than I can imagine, but it has finally begun, and that's all that matters.

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