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On the Waves of a Piano……. — Boundless Blessings by Kamal

Playing a symphony
On the waves of a Piano
Slender Fingers moving musically
Keys that danced to his touch
Creating notes of magical felicity
On rosettes and germaniums
Who sang his first song
Ecstatically flirting with joy
Rapturous love on his face
Sang to her sweet Loveliness
Every moment an upsurge
Whispering soft tunes of […]

via On the Waves of a Piano……. — Boundless Blessings by Kamal

From the Studio: The Conductor

Conductor 2013The Conductor was the first creation ever made under the name Encore! Old Pianos with a New Song.

After spending days disassembling a hundred-year-old Lyon & Healy upright grand piano, cleaning away the dust, and storing the hundreds of screws in a container for future use, I began to move the pieces around this way and that to see what ideas would come to mind. When I held two sticker assemblies together, they seemed to form a man’s body—minus the head, of course.

So I cut the shank off a hammer, sanded it smooth, and voila! a head!

I decided to make him into a conductor because his hands were up in the air. So I gave him a baton (bridle wire).

Next, the conductor needed a music stand. The bottom of the stickers already looked like the base of a music stand with two feet sticking out on either side, so I simply (poor choice of words, I admit) constructed the platform on which to set the music. This platform was made from eleven flanges glued together,  plus one extra flange underneath to provide stability. They were then glued to the two flanges still attached to the “coat tails” of the conductor. So the entire conductor was fully assembled before being mounted onto the canvas, although he could not be a free-standing figurine like the Don Quixote I saw in the art gallery in Florida, because he was too top-heavy.

Conductor 01

As a sidebar, let me tell you my early process of freeing the flanges. If you’ll look in the photo above, you’ll see at the “feet” that they are attached by a small metal pin. There’s also a bushing around the pin to allow freedom of movement at the hinge. In the piano, the parts need to be able to move freely, but not too freely, in order for the piano to function properly. When they get too tight, you get “sticky keys.” To be honest, I’m not sure what the problem is when they are too loose. Perhaps they fall apart. But in my experience of taking them apart, being too loose is seldom a problem.

So, to get them apart, I pushed one end of the pin with the tip of a tiny pair of jeweler’s needle nose pliers until the pin was sticking out far enough on the other side to grab it with the pliers. Then I pulled the pin the rest of the way out and dropped it into a jar. I’ll probably never use the pins again, but I’m saving them and the springs for the fun of it, just to see how long it takes me to fill the jar with these tiny pieces. (For the record, at the rate I’m going, it may never be filled.)

As most of you know, there are 88 keys on a piano. That means inside the piano, in the action, there are 88 hammers, 88 whippens, 88 stickers (or the equivalent), about 78 dampers (the highest strings don’t need them), etc. But for every set of hammer, damper, whippen, and sticker, there could be 5 flanges. That’s a total of 440 flanges in a single piano! You can imagine the time it took me to push and pull that many pins out of their comfy spots! And let’s not say anything about how tired, sore, and dirty I was when I got finished.

On to the best part….

The Conductor needed a background. So I placed him on a stage with a crowd of listeners behind him and a spotlight which landed at his feet. I’ve made six of them so far, sometimes two at a time, and no two have turned out exactly alike. It’s time to make some more. In fact, the empty canvases are ready to go, and the photos will be added to Instagram as soon as they are finished.

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!


My Dear Readers

The first weekend of March I will be at my very first juried art show! That said, the next couple weeks will be dedicated to the studio, with less time given to my blogs. Some posts are scheduled, and I’ll check in from time to time to respond to comments, but please excuse me if it takes a little while. Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be back!


FOTD: Piano Bouquet

Yellow Hammers (5)

Each week I intend to participate in a photo challenge, just for the fun of it. I’ll spread my horizons, not sticking to any one challenge in particular, and soon I’ll create an album to collect the photos.

For my very first photo challenge, I’ve decided to do Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) challenge. However, I’ve chosen a very special flower for the first photo from this blog: the Yellow Hammer. There actually is a variety of rhododendron called the yellow hammer, but this bunch was “grown” in my studio. 🙂

The green part in the center of the felt came to me that way, but I colored the remainder of the felt with a yellow color wash, and then had to carefully prevent it from shrinking as it dried. If they look dirty, it’s because they are about 100 years old, and at the beginning I was cleaning hammers with a nylon brush. Now I clean them with a wire brush, which works much more effectively.

This particular bouquet has found a happy home overseas, but I will make more as soon as I can find the right vases in which to put them.

 

The Story Behind the Art

Lyon & Healy upright grand piano

In 2010 my children and I drove to Lakeland, Florida, for my grandmother’s funeral. The trip took us directly past my birthplace. At the time of my birth, my dad was in a Navy school. We left that place when I was one week old, and I had not been back since. So I decided that on the way home from the funeral, we would stop in this little town and see the place where I was born.

As it turns out, a typical Florida rainstorm slowed our travel down to a crawl, and most of the places of business were closed by the time we got there, including the museum of history. But the art gallery was still open. My sons were not interested, so I left them in the parking lot to play in the remnants of the rainstorm (now a drizzle) while my daughter and I checked out the art gallery. In the gallery we saw some amazing things, but the most pertinent part to this story is the figurine of Don Quixote mounted on his trusty steed Rocinante. Why? Because it was made from piano parts. I was intrigued, but I couldn’t afford to buy it, so I took a photo of it. I have no idea what happened to that photo, but I logged it in the back of my mind somewhere…..

About a year later our church burned down. We lost the entire sanctuary, and all the rest of the building was destroyed by smoke and water. Someone kindly donated a very old Lyon & Healy upright grand piano to the church, but it would have cost thousands to restore it, and the pastor preferred to put that money toward a new piano. So he announced, “Whoever can take it can have it.” Suddenly I remembered the figurine made of piano parts, and I knew this old piano had a purpose, and that I held the key to unlock it. Thus it was that our family became the happy owners of that beautiful Lyon & Healy.

The Lyon & Healy manufacturing company was established in 1864, and by tracing the serial number, I’ve been able to determine that this piano was made in 1906. We spent several days disassembling it, then cleaning, separating, and sorting the pieces. Right away ideas began to flow of things I could make from them. I would hold the pieces in various positions and let my imagination soar. Like finding shapes in the clouds, I saw people, giraffes, and chickens in the piano. I also saw circles—lots of them… and flowers, and music….

As the business continued to grow, I realized that I needed a logo. I had a vision for it, and I called on my children to help me bring the vision to light. My daughter Mary Beth drew out the first sketch. Then Matthew embellished Mary’s original idea, and I took what the two of them had formulated and put the finishing touches on it. (Bobby’s field of expertise is in moving the pianos. That boy has the strength of Samson, and I thank God for him.)

 

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Click on the circles for captions…

 

“Harnessing the Energy”

The story continues, as I have used nearly every piece from that first piano and have reclaimed twelve other old pianos besides… and counting. Truly there are still a few songs to be played from these old pianos. It has been a rewarding and enjoyable task to find them and deliver them to you. I make creations of my own imagining, and I do commissioned work as well. If you have an idea for something unique for yourself or a loved one, let me know, and I’ll see if I can make it happen for you.

To view examples of my art, please visit the Gallery of Piano Art on this site.

And by all means, please stop by my Etsy shop. You are more than welcome!

 

 

The Story Behind the Artist

Pentax film camera with flash

As a teen I had a sketchbook in which I would draw with ordinary Number 2 pencils. I drew pictures of stuffed animals belonging to my sisters and me, of the Tennessee mountains as we traveled through on family vacations, and of my friends. I also copied pictures from magazines…. I still have that sketchbook.

In high school I continued to draw a little, but photography became much more important to me. A dear friend gave me my first “grown up” camera, a Pentax ME Super. I read the manual from cover to cover and took hundreds of photos, keeping track of my settings in a spiral notebook so that when the film was developed, I could see the impact the settings made on the shots…. I still have that camera.

While photography was my passion, I did not necessarily see it as my calling. Several teachers greatly influenced my life, most of them English teachers, so I went to college to prepare to join their ranks. In 1992 I graduated with a BA in English and began teaching right away. As I mentioned yesterday, most of my teaching career was invested in the teaching of Spanish, algebra, and music. Spanish was my minor, algebra my hobby, and music my other passion. 🙂 Oddly enough, I taught English only one year—my final year in formal education—and I must say that eighth grade class was my crowning joy.

In 1994 I married a handsome sailor whom I had met at church, and by 2001 we had three precious children. I loved teaching—pouring my life into the lives of my students—but there wasn’t enough of me to go around, so in 2006 I left the traditional setting for good to teach my own children at home.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine offered art classes to the homeschoolers at our church. My children all signed up, and my friend let me audit the class as well. In Art I, she introduced us to drawing in 2-point perspective, charcoal, pen and ink, 2D and 3D wire sculpture, clay sculpture, color pencil, acrylic, and watercolor. My fascination with art was reawakened. I was drawing again, and painting now too. And I learned that color pencils are not just for children!

color pencil drawing of a bunch of peppers
My first color pencil study, “One of a Kind,” on red Canson paper

That same year our church hosted its first craft fair to raise funds for teen mission trips, and my teacher/friend and I rented a table together to sell her paintings and my photographs. I created a line called Scenic Scriptures, in which I combined original photographs with Scripture verses. I presented them in a variety of sizes as prints—mounted, matted, or framed—as well as trinket boxes, trays, greeting cards, and refrigerator magnets. I made a small profit, but more importantly, I made a big impression on many friends who encouraged me to continue learning and developing in the area of art.

2Cor 4v7, 4x6
Many of my photos come from the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.

For four years I sold my art at craft fairs, and slowly a vision grew within me of doing this full-time. At the time, I was spread pretty thin, with my time and attention divided among several responsibilities and ambitions. But I had a burning desire to paint and make piano art, so I took steps toward that end. Slowly I phased out the Scenic Scriptures and devoted all my time to making piano art. This was not because I didn’t like the work with photography, but because that field is already saturated, and precious few people are making art with pianos.

Conductor 2013
“The Conductor” was the first piece I ever created from piano parts.

All my plans and dreams came to a screeching halt, it seemed, when in August 2016 my husband received a job transfer. After 35 years in Virginia, we were moving 900 miles away to a place where we knew almost no one. I was sad to leave my dear friends and church family, but happy for the chance to make a clean break from my other endeavors so I could focus more fully on art. The first few months were dedicated to settling in so the feeling of transition would not hang around indefinitely, and then I got busy with my dream of having a prosperous art business.

The transition proved to be more difficult than any of us could have imagined, and the dream nearly died. Between confusing state regulations, insufficient workspace, and tuition payments for three college students in private schools, the demands seemed more than I could handle. But it was not too much for my Abba. The Lord graciously showed both my husband and me that it was He who gave me this vision and the ability to draw, paint, and create things. I can do nothing less than give it all back to Him with a heart full of gratitude and faith to believe that He will meet all our needs according to His riches in Glory. In spite of many obstacles and setbacks…. by God’s grace I still have the vision!

 

 

The Story Behind the Writer

Holly Hobbie diary

My first diary was a small, hardbound book, adorned with a Holly Hobbie picture, and fastened with a lock that clasped on the front cover. Over the years I wrote my deepest, darkest secrets in that diary. Today it’s interesting to see not only how my handwriting evolved over the years, but also how my interests and writing styles developed. When did I write my first poem? I’m not sure. The earliest one I still have is from 1982, when I was 14 years old. I remember loving poetry and writing, but until college I only ever wanted to be a teacher, and an English teacher at that. As it turns out, in all my years of teaching, apart from teaching my own children, I only taught English one year. The other years I taught Spanish, algebra, and music. I enjoyed them all, but the crowning glory was that one year of 8th grade English. My teaching career would not have been complete without it.

In my senior year of college I took as many writing classes as I could fit into my schedule. After graduating, I enrolled in a correspondence course to study children’s literature, and learned that it was not for me. Later on I took another correspondence course, this time in poetry—and it clicked! This was my niche! I began to write profusely. The year was 2002. I was married and had all three children by this time, but they were small, and I made time to write.

My writing came and went in spurts over the years, but I had put together a collection of poems and anecdotes that I dreamed one day would be published. And then one day I met a lady who just happened to have editorial experience, and she asked to see my work. Long story short, she worked with me, and together we have gotten the manuscript ready for publication. Now the only thing holding me back is fear, I suppose. But that’s another story for another day…. At about the same time, this friend and others encouraged me to start blogging. And here I am.

As a writer, I maintain two blogs. The first is The Abundant Heart Blog, where I post devotionals, Bible studies, occasional poems, and Songs for Sunday. Also, most Fridays I like to participate in the Five-Minute Friday challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

My other blog exists exclusively for poetry. Here, at Dark Side of the Moon, I write under my pseudonym Abigail Gronway (previously Linda Luna). On the Dark Side I focus on encouraging my fellow poets to try new and old forms of poetry, both rhymed and unrhymed, to broaden their horizons, as I do the same. I have an Incremental Poetry series, in which each poem is one line longer than the previous week’s entry, a themed challenge, a short poem on Sundays, plus I try each week to participate in a challenge by the hosts of d’Verse Poets Pub.

Believe it or not, with all the time I spend writing, I still consider it my avocation, and art I consider to be my vocation, although if my life depended on either of them, I would starve in a week! My sweet husband truly is the breadwinner of our family, but he allows me to follow my dreams, and I am thankful.

 

 

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

My website has been around a few years now, but for the past few months I’ve been transitioning from another host to WordPress. This is now my very first post on WordPress, the first of many, I hope. And you, I trust, will be one of many to join me on this journey. Unfortunately, I learned too late how to move my content from one to the other, so please bear with me as I painstakingly rebuild my site from scratch. 🙂

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

So who are you, and what do you do?

I’m glad you asked. My name is Angela Rueger. I am a daughter of the King of kings, having accepted God’s free gift of salvation through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ at the age of 21. Everything else I do is colored by my relationship with Him. Additionally I am a happy wife in my 25th year of marriage, a mother of three college students, an artist, a writer, a tax professional, and a caregiver to a dog, a cat, and a turtle. The dog and cat belong to two of my children, but the turtle is mine.

Over the next few days I’ll pull back the curtain little by little to reveal a little more about who I am as a writer and an artist, and then I’ll also introduce you to my art, including the story behind my smiling piano logo….

Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to many more visits!