Back To The Flute…

It is funny how life can throw you curve balls.  Although this is nothing new what does seem a bit odd is how far away from ones self they can reach without even knowing what is happening to you.  The past 6 years I have been on a journey that I would not wish upon anyone.  Although each hurdle that has been thrown down, I found solace in the fact that I know I can and will beat each one.

For those of you who have come to the Flute I would venture to guess that each story to be told is one of self hunger, self-reflection, one of seeking, one of healing, and one of looking for something that exists but yet they did not know what it is was they were looking for.  They just knew that there was something lacking in their own personal life and that somewhere in their Universe there must be a path to healing and comfort.   For many this path eventually leads them straight to the healing powers of the Native American Flute.

walnut_blueribbon_E_3lgTo some this may seem like a bunch of crap and talk about nothing. But I truly believe that this beautiful wind instrument was given to the people of this continent as a gift.  There is no questions that the haunting sounds that comes forth from the flute are nothing short of a miracle sound.  It is a sound of happiness, sadness, hope, inspiration, healing, and celebration.  Even more important is that when you yourself play the flute it is a direct reflection of you and who you are!

For many playing the flute is not enough, they need to have a vested interest in the flute they play and so they seek out guidance and make the difficult journey to becoming a flute maker.  For those who craft their own flutes it is only then that playing the flute that you have made is truly a representation of who you are.  As you give the flute your breath – the flute then gives you its song and each of these songs are unique and the message given may only be understood by you.  But yet to others that hear your song the message given and received by them  will most certainly mean something completely different and yet you have shared a part of you.  The cool thing is that your song may help heal those who seek comfort for whatever reason and you may not ever know it.

It is easy with all of life’s energy both good and bad to get away from the flute once you have found it.  But I promise you that as I… you will reach the day where you realize that getting back to the flute will become a priority and when you once again find a quite place and listen it is only then it will speak to you in song and maybe even heal a part of you that is in need.

So seek out and find that quite place.  Be still and just listen to Mother Earth – she WILL speak to you if you are willing to listen.  Play your song when you are alone and listen to the voice of your flute.  I promise you that you will feel better when you do and maybe, just maybe getting back to the flute will help you find what you seek.  Peace my friend….

Jackson Lake and Mt Moran
Jackson Lake and Mt Moran

Time To Help Family…

timjennings_coronadoAs we approach the Spring and Summer months there always seems that there is something that needs attending to.  For the next few months we will be traveling to the San Diego area to help some elderly parents.  Time passes quickly and now is the time to lend a hand.  So for the next few months shipping of flute blanks and materials will be halted until we can return home.  Sorry for any inconvenience but  please feel free to reach out to me via email at “timjen333@gmail.com” – I will respond promptly.

Truth About Blanks…

wymadeRecently I have been hearing all kinds of criticism about the quality of flute blanks people have been purchasing lately.  Believe me I have heard just about everything negative there is to say over the past few years but lately it seems to have gotten worse.  I must say though that most of the criticism has not been directed at me and our products which in a way makes me feel better – I think.  The truth is there are so many variables than can affect the quality of a flute blank and I thought I would take some time to address some of the concerns that have been expressed to me recently and then try to help you better understand the difficulties in crafting a quality flute blank ready for you to complete.

First I have to say the some of the criticisms voiced about some of the other suppliers that I personally know have not been well founded.  Usually these types of complaints/concerns come from people who are fairly new to flute building – that is just he simple truth.  This is not to say that their concerns are not well founded and at the very least they should be listened to but we are dealing with a wood product and no two flute blanks are the same.

POC_75_432G_10_13_1_lgThe schematic at the top of this page is a general example of the two blank halves that make up a typical flute.  It is important to note that in our shop we have always crafted our flutes in this manner.  There are a few other suppliers out there that use the rifle boring method and then turning the blank on a lathe for final shape.  Two different ways to craft a flute and both are correct.  I have always crafted my flutes by hand – or as much of the process I can do by hand.  The blank itself… we use power tools to create the main components of the flute blank for many reasons but primarily consistency and speed.  But the signature shape my flutes have come entirely from hand planing the flute body to shape.

Although the components of the NAF flute seem and are fairly simple, crafting a consistently good flute blank is actually harder than it may look.  First finding the right lumber to cut the blanks from is not only a journey in itself – it is time-consuming and expensive to get.  Then any lumber we use here in my shop it is left to sit and acclimate sometimes for weeks or even months before it is cut.  We hope to stabilize the wood as best we can to our local climate before we cut into it.  Then there is the issue of warping or twisting which is fairly common.  Some of the warping comes from the cutting process and other times it comes from weather changes.

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The most common complaint I here is that the blank set is warped or twisted.  One of the most common factors that can cause a blank set to warp is how it was cut.  Secondly, the blank itself is only 7/8″ thick and 1 3/4″ wide.  When you cut a matched set from a larger piece of wood-stock you are subject to the way the fibers unload.  We try to cut most of our blanks from tight old growth vertical grain stock which helps eliminate this.  Letting the lumber acclimate to your climate is very important.  But we can ship a blank set from here in Jackson Wyoming at 6,475 feet in elevation, limited humidity and ship it to the coast or the south and the change in climate can and will have an effect on the blank set.  If the warping is limited to a bow or reverse bow you should let it sit for a week and then you should be able to work with it.  If the lumber twists then it can make building your flute much more difficult.  But I am pretty sure that the guys I know that manufacture flute blanks do not intentionally ship bad stock.

I have always tried to use Old Growth stock or very old reclaimed lumber for my blanks.  I prefer air-dried lumber over kiln dried AND air-dried is more expensive usually.  There is the sheer cost to deal with as well.  The cost of good lumber is very high – much higher that what you can find in your local lumber yard usually.  The people I like to deal with know what they have and their lumber garners a fairly high price.

The actual process of boring the components of the blank takes a proper jig setup as well as time and skill.  I have produced countless flute blanks both by using my proprietary jig setup and using CNC technology.  After cutting a lot of blanks using both methods I have come to the conclusion that the hand crafted blanks – for me – are preferable.  For some reason CNC cut blanks have more warping issued than the hand cut ones and I can actually control the cut better by hand.  We use both crafting methods but for the most part most of the blanks from my shop are really pretty nice.

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So when you shop for a blank set to for your next flute project keep in mind how much cost and work actually goes into the finished product.  Our pre-bored flute blanks sets range from a low price point of $28.00 all the way up to around $70.00 depending on the wood.  It is important to note that I do not use any exotics in my shop – only domestic species.  Part of the reason for this is the Plains Indians did not have access to Cocobolo or Ebony or other exotics.  They used what was immediately available to them in their region.  You can make a Native American styled flute from just about any wood or plastic material, but when you have a nice piece of old growth wood properly bored you have the foundation for a really nice flute project.

Many of you have shopped with us before when we had our website Teton Marketing…  After closing it last year to re-focus on flutes and not lumber we are now selling a limited supply of nice flute blanks with several bore sizes.  Each blank has been hand select by me and those that are currently available can be found on our new website at www.JacksonHoleTim.com.  If you would like to see what we are up to and what supplies we have ready to ship check them out…

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FLUTE SUPPLIES

A Story About Mary

EternalComfort_12_smNot too long ago I completed the construction of a very nice flute for one of my favorite customers, Mary Blakeley, who lives in Idaho. This is one of the first flutes where we crafted the entire flute and fetish but did not put a finish on the flute prior to shipping.

Mary wanted to complete this process for her flute on her own and I was excited to see what she has in mind. This flute was crafted from a very interesting piece of Sassafras.  Sassafras is very nice wood to work with and I like the tonal qualities of this wood.  Generally Sassafras is kind of non descriptive wood and it does not have the flash that other domestic species can have.

EternalComfort_4_smThis board was unusual because the grain patterns were very nice. The problem was – the board was twisted and bent and wow – I was not sure I would be able to make it work.  After consulting with Mary she made the decision that this piece was the one for her so I agreed to go ahead and see what I could do.

Because we liked the grain patterns so well I cut the best sections out of the board and spent two weeks trying various tricks to help straighten the blanks out.  After a couple of weeks and several different methods I realized that I was going to have to simply do my best during the glue up phase and make sure I had enough clamps on the blanks and a good solid coat of glue to boot.

EternalComfort_6_smPrior to glue up there were two things I needed to do.  First Mary requested I write into the inside of the flute the name “GOD” in Paleo Hebrew which I did.  I then sealed the name into the flute body and it is now part of this flute forever.  Second, I scored the entire gluing surfaces by hand with a sharp blade to give us some extra bite for the glue.  Prior to the glue up I inlaid a small piece of ironwood into the top of the flute. This inlay became the cutting edge on this flute and the contrast came out perfect.  Then I clamped it up and as you can see we made sure we had enough on the blanks. We left the blanks in the clamps overnight to make sure we gave it ample drying time and later the next day we removed the clamps and the results could not have been better.

“Amazing but that is what God does with music. Most believers want to have their emotions manipulated with music but they don’t realize that to God, music is communication. He communicates to us through the music of creation, twinkling stars, rushing water, winds that whisper and winds that roars through the trees, crashing waves and babies cries. The native flute is so special because when we give it our breath, it give us it’s song and each one has a song all its own. Through it we can release the deep sounds of our being.”

Mary Blakeley

We wanted to shoot for a lower C# which made this a very long flute, almost 30 inches in length. We used the four winds tuning holes and spent hours tuning the flute the best I could.  A C# is just about at the outside abilities for a 1 inch bored flute.  I was able to achieve the fundamental note and like all of our flutes I voiced it for the first time right here in Jackson Hole Wyoming, home of the Teton Mountain range.

The fetish is one of my custom made whimsical feather designs that was
crafted from a single piece old growth walnut with a band of sap wood in it.  The base of the fetish is the sapwood and the feather is the black walnut color.  A chimney was created to help with prevention of the #6 hole from jumping to easily and the results were pleasing.

EternalComfort_13_lgAfter many hours of frustration and several challenges that we were faced with this flute ended up being one my favorites that I have worked on in quite some time.  Nothing came easy on this flute and there were several times where I thought it was going to end up in my fireplace.  But with Mary’s constant coaxing and support this flute came out just beautiful.  We shipped this flute to her some time ago and I awaited pictures from her once she had completed her finishing project.  All in all a very nice project.

MaryBlakeley_1_smUPDATE: Mary received her flute and finished it herself with her favorite wood oil and beeswax  The picture to the left is the finished flute at her home in Idaho.  Mary did a real nice job on completing the project and now she is busy bringing the life of this flute to others where she if helping people heal from problems they face.  Recently Mary sent an email to me about one of her first experiences playing the flute she now calls “Eternal Comfort”.  In her message to me she was sharing an experience where she was playing this flute over a sick woman trying to bring comfort to her.  Within minutes this lady had fallen to sleep.  Above is a block quote from her email to me that is one of the best descriptions of how sound and music communicates to us.  This is a project where I have received more from Mary then Mary has from me.  This is a very special woman with a desire to only help others – we need more like her…

 

NAF Flute Blanks For Sale

timjennings_coronadoBuilding your own flute is a journey within reach for everyone who has the ability to use their hands.  The Native American Flute is one of the most pleasant-sounding wind instruments to play and one that anyone who has the interest and desire to play can learn.  Building your own flute whether it be for personal satisfaction or because you want to build them and sell them to the public is truly a satisfying endeavor.  Not everyone one has the space, time or money to have a workshop that allows you to create the supplies you will need to build your own flute.

“Several years ago I slowly became a resource for flute builders all over the country.  Before I realized what had happened I was in the lumber business and every day I got further away from what it was I loved to do – Build Native American Flutes.  So last year I finally said “enough”  I had lost my way!  The journey I was on was no longer the one I started out with.  I had to get back to the flute!  Today I am back at it and I am still here willing to help those seeking a spiritual path to building your own flute. There is nothing quite like it!”

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Artist Timothy Jennings has worked for many years providing flute makers all over the country with some of the best quality old growth specialty wood flute blanks to help you complete your flute project.  Most of the wood Tim uses is indigenous to North America, with very few exceptions.  All the leather accents he uses to craft his flutes come from hand selected Buffalo and Elk hides and this same material is available for purchase on this website.  Save yourself some time, money, and space by ordering from Tim Jennings @ JacksonHoleTim.com  you may just find just what you need for your next flute project.

Click Here for More Information About Flute Supplies…

Morning Coffee…

One of the most iconic images from Jackson Hole is the Teton Range.  Although I do not know the percentage – I would guess that most of the photos taken of the Tetons is a frontal shot that is taken from the general vicinity of Antelope Flats.  What is so cool about the Tetons is the many faces it has when taken from different locations throughout the valley.  Here is the picture of the day taken from a more northern approach.  Enjoy and may it bring peace to your day! (click image to enlarge)

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Morning Coffee…

Another beautiful day here in Jackson Hole Wyoming and a perfect cup of coffee to go with it.  This picture seemed a bit unusual this time of the year with no snow on the ground and the warm sun shinning.  Taken behind Miller Butte on the Elf Refuge…  He looks chill.  I hope this brings a smile to your face this morning…

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Aveda Salon “Tori” Is Expanding…

wymadeI was contracted to build two large mirror frames for the newly expanding Aveda Salon “Tori” located here in Jackson Hole.  Tori is a rapidly expanding salon and soon they will double their size.  The two mirror frames in the picture below were hand crafted from selected old barn wood that Tori Carson found in Idaho.  Monday they go in for the mirrors and then to her shop.  I will update the pics when the glass is in…

Available for Custom Order – contact timjen333@gmail.com

Tori_BarnWood_Mirrors

Prints Now Available…

Prints starting as low as $1.00

It is sometimes funny how people view what it is that you do.  For 30 years I have made my living as an International Health Insurance broker.  Selling health insurance and working with people from around the globe is actually a very rewarding career.  But when I need a break or have a day off my passions fall into two categories, Photography and hand crafting Native American Flutes.

Living in Jackson Hole Wyoming offers one so many incredible opportunities to photograph the amazing that is right in front of our eyes every day.  Yes living here I am blessed.  Through the lens of my camera I see the same vistas differently every time I venture out.

I have been humbled by those of you who have commented positively and those of you who have encouraged me to make some of my work available.  This is actually quite new for me but I have decided to do just that.

Much of my photographic work can be found in the galleries presented here at JacksonHoleTim.  Prints are available starting as low as $1.00 for a simple 4 x 7 all the way up to larger Canvas Prints.  Images are also available for purchase formatted for use on your personal or commercial website.  I would love to hear from you about some of my work and I welcome comments and suggestions – but please be nice…

If you are interested please email me at @timjen333@gmail.com or call (307) 690-0427.

Timothy Jennings Award Winning Artist, Photographer

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