A Much-Needed Face-Lift

Last year I moved my piano art from another website host to WordPress. The intention behind this shift was to make it easier to manage my online presence, as all three of my sites would then be in the same place. Well, it has been a learning experience, to say the least. Initially I ended up with a site that was merely a blog with a gallery page, when what I wanted was a gallery with a blog page. So today I explored my options and selected a new format that should prove much more pleasing to the eye and easier to navigate. It is still a work in progress, but it’s finally starting to become what I had envisioned.

The home page now features photographs of my piano art, with links to my Etsy shop for the convenience of you who would like to make a purchase. I haven’t finished uploading photos of my newest work just yet, but I promise they are coming.

Also, ever since the new year began, I’ve been trying to get back to writing Encore blog posts, but so far my schedule has not allowed it. The articles will come, in due time.


2020 Florida Fairs and Festivals

Below is my tentative itinerary for this year. It’s much more sparse than last year’s schedule, and I’m also staying closer to home. But all that is because I’m working on getting into a store! I can’t wait to tell you about it as the story unfolds…. Meanwhile, if you live in Northwest Florida, I looking forward to seeing you at my table at one of these venues:

 

Cantonment

Fall Fling Arts & Crafts Fair

3475 Pine Forest Rd., Cantonment, FL
Saturday, September 26, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

Destin

Spring Craft Show

Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave., Destin, FL
Friday, February 17, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Holiday Craft Show

Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave., Destin, FL
Friday, November 20, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 21, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

Fort Walton Beach

St. Simon’s on the Sound Arts & Crafts Fair

28 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Friday, November 6, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 7, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

Milton

Riverwalk Arts Festival

Riverwalk Park in Historic Downtown Milton, FL
Saturday, March 7, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 8, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

Pace

Alyssa’s Outdoor Market

Alyssa’s Antique Depot, Pace, FL
Saturday, April 11, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Alyssa’s Mother’s Day Mini Market

Alyssa’s Antique Depot, Pace, FL
Saturday, May 9, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

Pensacola

St. Joseph’s Blues & BarBQ Festival

140 W. Government St., Pensacola, FL
Saturday, May 2, 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 3, 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Pine Forest UMC Arts & Crafts Festival

2800 Wilde Lake Blvd., Pensacola, FL
Saturday, November 14, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

Getting Ready for the Fall Tour

What does “taking a break” mean to you? Normally, when those words are uttered, it means that we are stepping away from our work in order to relax a while.

Well, that is not exactly what the words mean in the context of this post. I began this page just a few months ago to help present my art to the world. However, I have not been able to find sufficient time for writing the articles—and not for a lack of time management. I simply have a tendency to spread myself too thin. And what do you know, I’ve done it again. I may write a little over the next few months, or at least share a word from someone else, but most likely I’ll be fairly silent from now until January. It’s not because I don’t want to be here, but because I’m only one person, and duty calls.

Working Hard

This summer I’ve been working hard on building up my depleted inventory of piano art and home décor items. It’s important that I work hard just now, because next month begins the fall craft fair season, and I have committed to 9, maybe 10 shows between September 6th and December 7th. I’ll go ahead and list them all here, and if you happen to be in the area, I look forward to meeting you in person at the event.

September ~ Florida

Fall Street Fest (weather permitting)

34 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Friday, September 6, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Farmer’s Market (tentative)

34 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Saturday, September 14, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Pensacola Seafood Festival

Seville Quarter, Downtown Pensacola, FL
Friday, September 27, 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 28, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 29, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Fall Street Fest

34 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Friday, October 4, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

October ~ Florida and Virginia

Suffolk Peanut Fest

Suffolk Executive Airport, 1410 Airport Rd., Suffolk, VA
Thursday, October 10, 2:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Friday, October 11, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 12, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 13, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. — Military Appreciation Day

Tidewater Baptist Craft Fair

501 Providence Rd., Chesapeake, VA
Saturday, October 19, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

November ~ Florida

St. Simon’s on the Sound Arts & Crafts Fair

28 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Friday, November 1, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 2, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Pine Forest UMC Arts & Crafts Festival

2800 Wilde Lake Blvd., Pensacola, FL
Saturday, November 9, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Holiday Craft Show

Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave., Destin, FL
Friday, November 18, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 19, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

December ~ Florida

St. Mary’s Winterfest

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Milton, FL
Friday, December 6, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 7, 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 

From the Studio: Key Chains

Hammer Key Chains (32)
Hammer Key Chains

Most of my piano art creations have a music-themed name given to them. The key chains are one notable exception, for I have never called them anything but what they are. And that’s okay.

Welcome back to the Studio Tour. Today I’m going to share with you how to make key chains from piano hammers and ebony keys. The key chains are my most popular item, and I also use them as gifts for college graduates, personalizing them with their name and the year. In fact, personalization has become quite popular this year, with most online buyers requesting that a name or initials be written on the hammer. I have considered offering personalization at craft fairs. Perhaps this fall I will make it so.

The Process

The first set of key chains I made were constructed of piano hammers, an eyelet screw that also came out of the piano (technically called a letoff regulating screw), and a key ring. I bought a package of 100 key rings on eBay and set out to make 100 piano hammer key chains.

The process is tedious but fun, at least for me. I’ll share my process with you, and then you decide if you would also like to make piano hammer key chains.

  1. Remove the entire action from the piano.
  2. Unscrew the 264 screws that hold the pieces in place.
  3. Separate the pieces as necessary, releasing the bridle strap from the bridle wire. (These often show dry rot, depending on their age.)
  4. Scrub each hammer with a wire bristle brush to remove the dust and dirt that has accumulated over as many as 100 years. Be sure to wear a mask.
  5. Using a table saw with a jig saw blade, cut the hammer away from the hammer shank. While you’re at it, go ahead and separate the hammer shank from the hammer butt as well. Sort these pieces into their storage containers for later use in other projects.
  6. Scrub the letoff regulating screws while still attached to the letoff rail to remove dust and surface rust; trust me, it’s easier this way.
  7. Using a hook from a pick and hook set, turn out each of the letoff regulating screws from the rail. Allow the letoff buttons to fall off the end of the screw, then collect the buttons into a storage container for future use in another project.
  8. Secure one of the hammers in a vice to hold it upright and steady; drill a pilot hole into the top of the hammer, then widen the hole with a size 2.0 drill bit.
  9. Screw one of the letoff regulating screws into the hole on the top of the hammer.
  10. Add a key ring to the regulating screw.
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 ninety-nine more times, and you’re done, unless the key chains will be personalized.
  12. To personalize a key chain, first apply a coat of sealer to both sides of the hammer; let dry.
  13. Write the name/word/initials down the wood part of the hammer with a fine-tip paint pen that will contrast well with the color of the wood.
  14. Apply a second coat of sealer over the ink to keep it from smudging; let dry.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to make a batch of piano hammer key chains? If not, feel free to shop in my store for one that I made for you.

No Screws

There is another design I created, one that does not use the regulating screw. Instead, I drilled a hole through the hammer near the top, using a step drill bit with long tapers. This design came about when I tried making my second batch of 100 key chains, but the first five regulating screws broke when I had them screwed almost all the way into the hammer. I concluded that those screws were too degraded with rust to be useful. They didn’t appear rusty, but they had obviously been weakened by time and the elements.

Hammer key chains, Steinway (1)

In one of the pianos, an 1866 Steinway upright, I discovered some 25 hammers that already had a hole drilled into them. It served no purpose that I could detect, but appeared to be part of the design. I took advantage of that pre-made hole to make more key chains. The hole goes from front to back rather than from side to side. This is inconvenient for the purpose of displaying the key chains on the peg hooks; but the design does enable the hammer to lie flat against your keys when you add actual keys to the ring.

However, I do prefer to use the regulating screw in the construction of my key chains, so I went back to eBay and purchased some brand new ones. That way I would know for sure that they were strong enough for the task. It increases my cost a little, but it also improves the quality of my product.

Ebony

Next came ebony key chains. To date, I have not used regulating screws to make the ebony key chains, but only drill holes through the ebony and add the key ring. It sounds simple, but though there are fewer steps involved in making key chains from the ebonies, these steps can require more effort.

The ebonies are attached to key extensions, long pieces of wood (usually 12″-14″), by means of a special glue used specifically in the construction of pianos. The glue does degrade over time, and sometimes the ebonies pop off easily. Other times I soak them in a warm soapy sink bath, and am able to twist them apart. And sometimes I am powerless to separate them from the extension. Those ebonies are set aside for a different purpose.

I decided not to paint and buff the ebonies that show age, for the natural wear and tear of use has its own charm. I simply wash them, dry them, and polish them with a lint-free cloth and a touch of linseed oil.

Drilling the hole in the ebonies also takes more effort than drilling a hole in the hammer because ebony is a very hard wood. Yes, I have come across a few pianos that did not use genuine ebony for the sharps, but painted a softer, cheaper wood. Another technique is to cover the wood with black plastic. These are also cheaper and hold up better to use when the piano is being played. I save these sharps for other projects, and only use genuine ebony sharps to make my key chains.

Genuine ebony does not need to be painted because it is naturally brown-black in color. I have found some that were painted, and have removed the paint to allow the natural beauty of the wood to show through. They are quite stunning when they have been polished with the linseed oil, and the grains of the wood are visible!

Local Series

Recently I made a new batch of key chains to sell at the Sand Dollar Cottage, a gift shop/art gallery in Navarre that carries some of my piano art. This was the first time I ventured to write on the felt parts of the hammers, and it turned out successfully. Again, I sealed the surface before writing, and most of the pen colors came out nice and crisp. I made some “ebony” key chains for this purpose as well. These are not genuine ebony, but are actually made of plastic, as they came off an old electronic organ rather than a piano. These key chains will be available very soon at the Sand Dollar Cottage.

If you happen to be in the area, do stop in and take a look around. The Sand Dollar Cottage is a co-op of about 50 local artists. Here you can find beautiful art, home décor, and souvenirs to take home to friends and family. Christmas ornaments are also sold year-round because folks tell me that they collect Christmas ornaments everywhere they go. The Sand Dollar Cottage is conveniently located in the Sand Dollar Plaza on Highway 87, northbound, just off Highway 98.


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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color Your World: Asparagus

This week’s challenge comes from Tourmaline and is called Color Your World. The color for this week is asparagus. As a vegetable, this just happens to be a favorite with my family, especially when drizzled with butter and baked with garlic and mozzarella. And as a color, asparagus also shows up quite often, especially in the felts of the keys.

Hammer Magnets (15)

Piano hammers serve many useful purposes in my arts and crafts. These particular hammers have been made into refrigerator magnets.

Hammers also may become “heads” for my conductors and musicians…

…or “flowers” in a Piano Bouquet. This set was yellowed using a color wash, to resemble the variety of rhododendron known as the yellow hammer.

Yellow Hammers (5)
Piano Bouquet

Thanks again to Cee Neuner for her amazing directory, “For the Love of Challenges.” For the record, Cee’s directory lists not only photo challenges, but also writing and music challenges as well, and they are grouped by category. It’s very well organized.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color Your World: Aquamarine

This week’s challenge comes from Tourmaline and is called Color Your World. The color for this week is aquamarine.

Cup of Tea blue (2)

The image above is called “Cup of Music,” and is made entirely from piano parts: washer, bushing, regulating (eyelet) screw, and damper spoon, all mounted on a block of wood from inside the piano.

Below is a piece that goes by two names. To most of the world it is “Ocean Sounds,” but in Florida it is called “Beach Blues.” This is a special hometown name that bears significance to the folks who live here.

Beach (1)

Thanks again to Cee Neuner for her amazing directory, “For the Love of Challenges.” For the record, Cee’s directory lists not only photo challenges, but also writing and music challenges as well, and they are grouped by category. It’s very well organized.

Weekly Photo Challenge: All Lined Up

This week’s challenge comes from LifeLessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown, and is called All Lined Up. The challenge was posted on Monday, May 27. I don’t know how long it will run, but feel free to jump in with your own contribution whenever, for all you have to do is share a link to your post in the comments section of her post, at the link above.

Click the photos to enlarge and read the captions.

Some of this week’s photos are of completed projects, while others are of “raw materials,” but in every case, they are All Lined Up.


Thanks again to Cee Neuner for her amazing directory, “For the Love of Challenges.” For the record, Cee’s directory lists not only photo challenges, but also writing and music challenges as well, and they are grouped by category. It’s very well organized.

Longevity — Piano Girl

I found this post a couple months ago, but have waited until now to share it. I saved it on purpose because in her poem, she is 51 years old, and this weekend I celebrate my 51st birthday. I too hope to be the “ninety-something grandma” in the nursing home who sits down to the piano and remembers the songs of her youth.

I have thought about this word many times in recent days. Longevity. I’ve often said I hope to be the ninety-something-year-old grandma playing the piano at the nursing home. My family usually chuckles or says, “I’m sure you will be!” Typically, we think of longevity in reference to long life. Obviously, I have no way […]

via Longevity — Piano Girl

 

From the Studio: Just Beachy

Beach WIP (8)

Allow me to share with you the latest creation from the Encore studio, tell you why and how it came into being, and why it has two names.

Last year I had the pleasure of participating in a holiday craft show in Destin, Florida, where I met Carolyn Williams, the owner of Sand Dollar Cottage, an art gallery/gift shop in Navarre. She and several other artists were also vendors at the craft show, and we visited each other’s booths. Carolyn fell in love with my work and invited me to place some of my pieces in her gallery in Navarre. So in January I did just that!

Carolyn does an excellent job of organizing the pieces in her shop according to color, theme, etc., and not necessarily by artist. As it would happen, however, most of my things are all in one place because they are unique, being made of piano parts, and having nothing to do with beachy themes and muted colors. In short, they are their own theme.

So as time has allowed, I’ve been brainstorming, trying to come up with ways to combine piano art with beach art, to appeal to the musician who visits and/or lives at the beach. This was my first creation, but it will by no means be the last, as other ideas are simmering as well….

I went to work, collecting the keys that I would use to make the fans. I practiced my lettering, chose the pen that I would use to write on the keys, then went shopping for ribbon and shells. I thought about going to the beach to pick up shells myself, but I’ve been there, and I know it would have taken me a long time to collect the number of shells I would have needed, and time is money.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next step was to figure out how to securely connect the keys to each other and mount them to the wall. I glued them together, but as very little of their surfaces actually touch each other, I reinforced the connections with mending plates at the top and wood plates toward the bottom.

Since I gave away my bow maker, I made these bows by hand, sewing them together with floral wire. Then I used a heavier wire to fasten them to the keys, tying off the wire in the back, and tucking it in between two of the keys. Using a hot glue gun, I secured the ribbon to the keys in front, so that it would not hang down from the weight of the shells, and I hot glued the shells in place on the ribbon. I also hot glued two round felts from the piano to the bottom of the keys in back, as bumpers to hold it off the wall.

The wood plate in fact serves multiple purposes: it reinforces stability, hides the floral wire, and displays the artist statement. After trimming the board to size and sanding the edges smooth, I applied wood glue where the board would go, then drilled five pilot holes along both the top and bottom, to attach it to each key using short screws from out of the piano. I also used a piano screw to attach the mounting hook.

Finally, I edited the story of my art to fit on the board, printed it out on labels, trimmed them down to size, and applied them to the board. With that, the project was done!

Actually, I skipped a step in process—naming it. I had been working on the piece while at the Blues & BarBQ Festival at St. Joseph’s Church in Pensacola. In fact, that was where I worked on making the bows, attaching them to the keys, and gluing down the shells. I showed one of them to a lady whom I had met at the show, and she purchased it on the spot. I was thrilled that she liked it, but I said, “I don’t know what to call it yet, or how much I want to ask for it.”

She replied, “Well, you’d better think about it. I’m going to walk around some more, and I’ll be back to get your answer.”

So I put up photos on Instagram with a plea for help in naming this piece. I like to give my works musical names whenever possible. I had been listening to Blues music for the past day and a half at the festival, and had come to realize how important that genre is to this region. It is in no way limited to Louisiana, but colors the cultures of southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and western Florida as well. And so I thought, “Beach Blues…” to reflect the region for which this piece was made in the first place. When the lady returned, I had a name and a price. She was honored by the name, but she said my price was too low, so I raised it at her insistence.

A little while later I saw that I had received a response to my plea for help with the name. A friend from Virginia had suggested “Ocean Sounds,” and I liked that equally well. Reading the name brought to mind soothing piano music with an overture of crashing waves, and I knew it would do the same for my customers. I decided to use both names. The piece will be called “Beach Blues” when sold locally here in the Florida area, but it will be called “Ocean Sounds” when sold online or in Virginia. (Yes, I am going back to my beloved Virginia later this year to do two shows!)

In honor of my friend who gave me the name “Ocean Sounds,” I would like to share a video of piano music with ocean sounds. I hope you enjoy it.

The creation of “Ocean Sounds,” or “Beach Blues,” whatever you prefer to call it, is somewhat symbolic of my assimilation with the place in which God has put my family and me. It was not easy making the transition from Virginia to Florida. Yes, I was born here in this state, but Virginia is my family’s birthplace, and the place that I call home. Yet I have learned to be content here. This is where God brought us, and this is where God wants us. It’s a good place to be—in the center of God’s will. Today that place, the center of God’s will for my husband and me, is Florida. Someday He may move us somewhere else. But until then I will listen to the Beach Blues—not forsaking the memory of the Ocean Sounds, but choosing to live in the present with contentment.

May you, too, find contentment in the place, and with the people, where God has placed you. God bless!


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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: May Colors and Letters

This week’s challenge comes from Citysonnet and is called May Colors and Letters, where for the month of May, each day is assigned a particular color or letter, and the sky is the limit as to our individual interpretation. Today, May 21st, the theme is Green Melody, so I have decided to share photos of some of the things I’ve made that happen to be green.

piano hammer key chain
an aqua key chain (personalized)

The hammers I find in the pianos come in a variety of colors: red, fuschia or pink, purple, royal blue, teal… and green… two different shades of green, in fact. To distinguish them, I simply call them green and aqua.

 

Christmas sign made from piano parts
Merry & Bright Christmas signs made entirely from piano parts

This one may be out of season, but it is the color for the day. 🙂 I got the idea for this sign while browsing the stencil section of the local craft store. When I saw a stencil of a string of Christmas lights, right away I knew I could make that with hammers and a section of piano wire. It’s mounted to a piece of wood that also came from an old piano. And yes, I did purchase a stencil to add the lettering. 🙂


Thanks again to Cee Neuner for her amazing directory, “For the Love of Challenges.” For the record, Cee’s directory lists not only photo challenges, but also writing and music challenges as well, and they are grouped by category. It’s very well organized.

Raise the Titanic — the paperback piano

Are you ready for another piano listening sample? Doesn’t Alex from The Paperback Piano do a great job at the piano? I enjoy both her performance style and her recordings.

Hey everyone! I nearly didn’t post a Music Monday today because the song this week is not well known AT ALL. But it was making me anxious to think of skipping a week so here it is for you after all! I recorded this one for my Nana as it’s one of her favourite pieces […]

via Music Monday: Raise the Titanic — the paperback piano