From the Studio: Solfege

Welcome back to my piano art studio! Today I’d like to share with you some interesting things I made from pieces of the 1866 Steinway upright piano.

Fascinating Construction

As I do with every piano, once I got it home, I began to take it apart and study the construction of the individual pieces. All uprights have certain things in common. For instance, they all have hammers, jacks, wippens, backchecks, and so forth. However, they are not all made the same. Sometimes the difference is a matter of practicality, as smaller pianos must have smaller parts that are arranged a bit differently from those found within the upright grands. But sometimes the difference, I believe, is in the style of the manufacturer.

The 1866 Steinway had a wippen assembly that functioned exactly like any other wippen assembly I’ve ever seen—with its jack, flanges, bridle wire, backcheck wire and felt, and the damper spoon. However, the way these parts went together was unlike anything I’d ever seen, and at that point I had taken apart twelve other pianos. The major difference was with the jack, a smallish piece that looks somewhat like a hammer (in most upright pianos, that is). The jacks inside the 1866 Steinway were made of two individual pieces of wood instead of the solid construction I normally see. Also, the part that is normally quite short was in this case almost as long as the longer side, and it was hollow. In most uprights, the backcheck and bridle wires rise behind the jack; but in the case of the 1886 Steinway, the backcheck and bridle wires came up through the hollowed jack. This was a construction I had never seen before, and it fascinated me. For that reason, I wanted to use some of the wippen assemblies in their entirety, to display the unique manner of their construction.

With this in mind, I arranged three complete wippen assemblies in a pinwheel formation in the center of a 12×12 canvas, which I had painted a neutral tone. Then I framed it with “loose action pieces,” namely: jacks, letoff buttons, and backchecks also from the old Steinway. To finish the framing, I used treble hammers from two different grand pianos: one old, like the Steinway, and one newer, to provide a color contrast. I did not use the Steinway hammers because they were reserved for a different project.

A Star Is Born

Getting back to these most unusual jacks, I discovered that their proportions made them perfect for forming a star. I’ve never been able to do this with any other jack because they are too disproportionate for such a design. So I created a second design with the star in the center, using jacks that still had their bit of red felt on them, because the bright red made the star pop with color. The border is composed of a variety of flanges from different pianos of differing ages, with differing patinas. The corners of the canvas are marked with letoff buttons, and just inside each corner is a fan of hammers from both upright and grand pianos.

Now for a Name

As I’ve stated many times before, coming up with a name for my designs is the hardest thing I do. These two creations were no exception. I decided on “Solfege” because the solfege syllables are the building blocks of music, just as these wippen assemblies, together with other action pieces, are the building blocks of piano music.

How can I make it mine?

The “Solfege Triplet” is already sold, but the “Solfege Star” is still 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!

From the Studio: Biographical Bookends

Welcome back to my piano art studio. Today I’d like to share with you how simply a piece of trash may be redeemed.

Unsightly scrap

Who would have thought something so cotton-pickin’ cute could come from the trash pile?

It’s my passion to take the pieces of old pianos and make something useful and/or decorative out of them. But when it came to the piano desk (the wood that supports the keys), I honestly didn’t know what I could do with it. Several desks have remained stacked in a corner of the garage for years, waiting for me to come up with an idea. One of them was particularly ugly, so I decided to cut it up (to fit it in the trash bin) and throw it away. But as I cut, suddenly the pieces began to take shape. With the rounded edges, some pieces actually looked like books, and I realized I had a treasure.

Unlikely art

Now that I knew I wanted to keep the wood, I began to work more deliberately: measuring, making straight cuts, washing, drying, sanding, more sanding, painting, lettering, varnishing, and at last, adding a strip of felt (also a piano piece) to the bottom. And speaking of lettering, normally I hand-letter anything that contains writing. But for these books, I wanted to give them as authentic a look as possible, so I used a Cricut for the first time in my life. (What an experience!) It was both fun and challenging creating the book titles (yes, I actually made them up), then forming the letters with the Cricut, then preparing the letters for use and placing them on the spines of the books. I found the wood grain to be so beautiful that I decided to leave the “paper” edges in their natural state, rather than painting them gold. They did get a few coats of matte varnish to accentuate the grain and to preserve the wood.

Unfinished posts

The titles of these future biographical blog posts are as follows:

Turquoise bookends
• Victor Borge: Comedy in Music
• Brother Ray: A Biography of Ray Charles

Orange bookends
• Rachmaninoff: From Writer’s Block to Rhapsody
• Lisztomania: How Franz Liszt Rocked the Music World

Blue and Gray bookends
• Beethoven’s Greatest Symphony
• Claude Debussy by Moonlight

Burnt Umber bookends
• Leonard Bernstein: Musician Made in America
• The Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach

How can I make it mine?

Only two sets of bookends are available at this time: the turquoise and the orange, and you may find them both 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!

Recycled Piano Becomes Upcycled Workbench — Hackaday

Pianos are free, in case you’re not hip to the exciting world of musical instrument salvage. Yes, the home piano, once the pinnacle of upper middle class appreciation of the arts, is no longer. The piano your great aunt bought in 1963 is just taking up space, and it’s not …read more

via Recycled Piano Becomes Upcycled Workbench — Hackaday