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James Johnson Tlingit Native American Artist to Collaborate on Two New Flutes…

Earlier this summer I was invited by a very good friend of mine to come to see a showing of a very talented Tlingit (pronounced “cling-git”) Native American artist here in Jackson Hole Wyoming.  The gallery where his art was to be shown was at ASYMBOL Gallery based here in Jackson.  I was excited to see his work because of the style of art James does and truthfully James is one of the last of his people painting in their traditional ways.  ASYMBOL is owned by Travis Rice, world famous extreme snowboarder and producer of many fine things.  The passion Travis shares for art and those who create imagery for all to enjoy comes through with their support for James.

So my wife and I went with great anticipation and really not knowing much about his style of art, which is really the telling of stories.  James was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska and he belongs to the Ch’aak Dakl’aweodi Clan (Eagle/Killerwhale).  It was his late father from the Raven/Shark Clan that first encouraged him to pursue Tlingit carving and learn the traditional Tlingit formline.

James is named after his Grandfather, Chief Peter Johnson of Angoon and his Great Grandfather Jimmy Johnson of Angoon.  James says his art honors his Tlingit heritage.  From the very first moment I met James I just simply loved this guy as well as his artwork.  Not only is it different from the Plains Indian influenced art that has been my passion I truly believe that his art comes in the form of simple elegance.  The lines, the colors, the medium all come together to tell his stories.

James’s art is represented by several entities such as N-Grained, alongside Mark Landvik, ASYMBOL by Travis Rice and he is also an artist for Zohi Gallery in Santa Fe New Mexico.  Zohi Gallery is 100% Native Owned and Operated representing 30 of the top native artists in the country.  In addition James is supported by Sealaska Heritage Foundation in Juneau.  Sealaska supports the top Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Artists from Alaska working to preserve each tribe’s heritage and culture thru their respective art.

James takes very seriously the honor that has been bestowed upon him to carry on the traditions and cultures of his people.  Although James tells me there is no word for “Art” in the Tlingit language you will beg to differ when you see his work.  Traditional Tlingit formline is the foundation for James’s artwork and “Art Form” that was developed thousands of years ago by his ancestors.  James’s current work is a healthy mix of both traditional and contemporary Tlingit styles of his own.

Recently I had the opportunity to share with James some lumber that I wanted to give to him.  One of the species I work in almost daily was a piece of true old growth Alaskan Yellow Cedar.  My favorite second is the amazing Port Orford Cedar and both make the most beautiful flute instruments.  I provided James with one Alaskan Yellow Cedar and one Port Orford Cedar Board and within weeks he created two amazing works of art.  The Dancing Eagle paddle shown here to the right was one of but two amazing works by James.

Actual Alaskan Yellow Cedar Flute Blank – One of Two to be Crafted by Tim and James

After meeting James and seeing how he turned a solid single board into this beautifully crafted paddle I knew I had to try to see if we could work together.  So as I often do I reached out to James and asked him if he would have an interest in bringing some of his Tlingit Formlines to some of my flutes.  James responded right away and the short version is we are going to craft two flutes that will be available for purchase soon.  These two flutes will more than likely be the ONLY two of their kind when done.  Both of these flutes are being crafted from old growth Alaskan Yellow Cedar  and the image above is one of the flute bodies that will be the blank canvas for James to work his magic.

The above image is of one of the actual flute bodies we are crafting.  We are just about to tune these flutes and once this is complete they will be shipped to James for him to create his Formline Art.  In addition to his artwork James will also be carving the totem for each of these two flutes.  Both flutes are 1″ inch bored flutes and will be probably in the low E range.  Depending on the final product we will craft flute bags crafted from either Elk or Bison hides.  We will be posting additional picture as we make progress.

For those of you who collect flutes this might be the time for you to extend yourselves and gain ownership in true works of art.  This is functional art at its very best and I am excited to work with James on my very first Plains Indian Influenced flute and true traditional Tlingit Form Art.  If you are interested in finding out more about these two in production flutes send us an email to “timjen333@gmail.com”.  There is no price point established as of this post but these will be gallery quality works of art.  It has not yet been decided where these flutes will be available to be seen but more on that later.

I am excited to be working with James on this new project and I have high expectations to the finished product…

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Flute Fetish/Totem Blanks are Back

For more than 10 years we have been a resource for flute builders, both weekend warrior types and professionals to boot.  For a period of time we carried and sold fetish blanks that we of the same designs I have used here in my shop for both commission flutes and flutes I choose to make on my own.  All of the fetish themes I make tend to be lean a bit towards the whimsical side of my mind.  We have sold and supplied a lot of fetish blanks that the end user completes in their own shop.  As of today we have added them back to our menu list and we have created the initial fetish blanks that you can purchase and finish yourself.

Each of these fetish blanks have been pre-cut for a specific totem theme which you will complete in your shop at home.  Images on the page show how the finished totems or fetishes should look when you are done.  Use your favorite dremel, file set, carving knives, sand paper to give life to your new fetish.  Some of these can be crafted with or without a chimney if needed.   You are the final artist so part of you will be represented in your next flute project.

Click Here to View More Information…

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Very Nice Black Willow Pre-Bored Flute Blanks Available Now…

From time to time I want to highlight certain products available on our website for sale.  Today I want to share with those who are looking for Pre-Bored Native American Styled Flute Blanks for their next flute project.  Although most all of the pre-bored flute blanks we list are really nice blanks occasionally there are some that are easily missed.  I have four 30 inch Black Willow flute blanks ready to ship.  These are very nice blanks all four with a 1″ bore and a focusing channel currently set to 3/8″ in width.  All four of these blanks are from the same board and are book matched blanks.  Black Willow make for a very nice flute, easy to work and aesthetically pleasing.  Below are the four blanks currently available.  You can also find them through the menu system by mousing over “Native American Flute”…”Flute Blank Supplies”…”Pre-Bored Flute Blanks”.

Black Willow

1. BW_M_002 – Black Willow 1 1/8″ Bore, 30″ long blank, 1/2″ wide Focusing Channel, Matched Set, Graded A-1. Nice Blank Set. View $59
2. BW_M_003 – Black Willow 1″ Bore, 30″ long blank, 3/8″ wide Focusing Channel, Matched Set, Graded A-1. Nice Blank Set. View $59
3. BW_M_004 – Black Willow 1″ Bore, 30″ long blank, 3/8″ wide Focusing Channel, Matched Set, Graded A-1. Nice Blank Set. View $59
4. BW_M_005 – Black Willow 1″ Bore, 30″ long blank, 3/8″ wide Focusing Channel, Matched Set, Graded A-1. Nice Blank Set. View $59
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A Story About Mary

 

MaryBlakeley_1_smA couple of years ago I was commissioned to build a very special flute.   I have made a post about this before but I wanted to update this article as there has been some very nice things take place this past summer directly related to this post.  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 I 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.

This 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.

EternalComfort_4_smBecause I 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.

EternalComfort_13_lgThe fetish was one of my custom made whimsical feather designs that was crafted from a single piece old growth walnut with a band of sapwood 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.

After 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.

After Mary had received her flute she 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…

UPDATE:  Recently I received a package in the mail from Mary.  It was long like a flute but I thought how could this be.  I had recently crafted a new flute for her at her request out of a piece of Black Willow I had been saving.  Mary had a vision that her next flute was to be an eagle flute and so this is what we came up with.  Again this new flute was to be shipped with no finish on the wood as she would take care of this herself.  Could this package I just received be this flute I had shipped to her earlier in the year?  So I eagerly opened the package and to my surprise it was a flute but to my great relief it was not the flute below.  After looking at it carefully I suddenly realized that is was the very flute this article was written about.  Mary was returning it to me as a gift – one that I had never received before in all the flutes I have made for people.  Mary wanted me to have this flute and to do something new and exciting with it.  To be truthful I am not sure what exactly that is but I have this flute in front of me and I see it every day.  I think of Mary most days and I think of all the flutes we have shared over the past few years.  Mary has a gift, a gift of love and sharing the word of God.  A very spiritual women she is and I thank God everyday for our chance meeting many years ago.

 

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Native American Style 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 Style 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!”

reclaimedcherry2_lg

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…

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Cherry Wood Native American Flute…

American Cherry Native American Style Backpacker Flute

Cherry Wood Flute, Backpacker – Key of A

A couple of years ago I came across some old American Cherry that came from an old hand hewn beam.  The best we could tell this beam was more  than 200 years old when the timber was cut.  Because of its size this Native American Style flute would make a very nice back packer flute.  This five hole flute was eventually tuned to the Key of A and both the flute body and the fetish were handcrafted from this reclaimed Cherry wood stock. This flute ended up right at 21 1/2 inches in length and features a 3/4″ flute bore.  Please note that this flute was crafted entirely by hand including the flute bore which was cut with a gouge. The cutting edge was built into the body of the flute not an inlay. The fetish was from my otter series and was tied on using our hand cut black Deer Leather.

This flute like all of my flutes was hand planed to achieve its signature shape.  We added a hand braided deerskin leather lace accent at the foot of the flute and there were 8 multicolored Crow Beads attached.  The inside of the flute bore and slow air chamber were sealed with many coats of finish to help prevent moisture absorption.  The outside was finished with more than 20+ light coats of high gloss lacquer.  The tonal quality of this flute was in the upper range and it is very easy to play and very forgiving. This flute felt really nice in your hands and the color of the reclaimed Cherry gave it a very nice look.  This was a very simple yet great sounding flute that actually found a home with a buyer that takes it backpacking on a regular basis.

Cherry makes for a great sounding flute but as you can see from these pictures it also produces a simple elegance.  Although this flute has been sold it is available for commission.  All flutes ship with a hand crafted flute bag to protect the during shipping and storage at home.  Shipping is in addition to the price of the flute.  Call us at (307) 690-0427 or email me at timjen333@gmail.com.

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Tony Duncan Plays at the Phoenix Indian Center 70th Anniversary Benefit Concert

Tony Duncan, Mesa ArizonaI just received the picture you see here sent to me from one of my clients who I recently finished a flute for.  She attended the Phoenix Indian Center 70th Anniversary Benefit Concert held this pas Friday and she shared with me how much she enjoyed the event.  During one of Tony’s performances she noticed that the flute he was playing looked familiar and thus took this picture and sent it to me.  Yes this is a flute that I crafted for Tony and gave it to him earlier this year.  It is always humbling when I see someone playing a flute that I made.

Tony Duncan is a fabulous flute player based in Mesa, Arizona.  He is a world champion Hoop Dancer and recipient of the Native American Music Awards “Artist of the Year”.  Tony and his entire family are talented in the Native Arts.  If you have a love of Native American Flute Music then seek Tony out and check out some of his music on his website at tonyduncanproductions.com.  His latest CD “PURIFY” can be found there.  I think you will be pleased with his gift of the flute…

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Port Orford Cedar Flute Commission Completed…

Earlier this year I was commissioned to craft a new flute from Old Growth Port Orford Cedar.  The client requested a flute tuned to the Key of A @ 440 Hz and she wanted it to be “Concert Tuned”.   I was excited to build this new flute as Port Orford Cedar is one of my very favorite species to work with.

So I found the stock I was going to craft this flute from and from the very beginning it just all seem to come together.  One new addition to this flute was the addition of an inlaid Sapodilla Cutting Edge and two totem rails crafted from the same piece of Sapodilla as the inlaid edge.  By spending the extra time on an inlaid edge and using a wood species quite a bit harder than the POC this would insure a cleaner sound and more resistant to future potential damage – not to mention is looks really  cool.

Because this flute was being crafted with a 7/8″ Bore and we were shooting for an “A” I knew this flute would tend to be a bit shorter than many that I make.  I designed this flute to have  a longer Slow Air Chamber and a stop block of around 1 1/4″ along with a 2 3/4″ blowhole to help with the overall aesthetics.   One other addition was to tune the fundamental note using the 4 Winds tuning holes which also give additional length to the overall flute.

Because I handcraft and hand shape all of my flutes I have to be careful when it comes to adding Totem Rails which you can see in the image above.  At this point you can see the Cutting Edge inlay is complete, the playing holes and 4 Winds tuning  holes have been laid out.  The Totem Rails have been added and glued to the body of the flute and at this point it was time to start the shaping of this flute.

“I am amazed and grateful for the experience of working with Tim Jennings to create a flute for me. He is quite the flute maker master! His attention to details adds a unique dimension to his flutes – the clarity of sound is amazing. The hand of flute makes it feel alive. And Tim is easy to work with, and truly listens and responds to the customer’s needs. He keeps the customer up to date every step of the way.”

Claudia Cocco
Cave Creek, Arizona

After a few weeks of prep work, gluing, clamping, shaping and sanding I had come up with what for me was a new design in that this flute feature a tapered rail that when the fetish or totem was added the back of the fetish would meet the end of the taper.  This approach created a bit different shape towards the mouthpiece, meaning not so round,  but more of an edgy look and overall I really like it.

Tuning this flute was also a challenge as I live in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of over 6400 feet.  Our humidity is higher than Arizona which is where this flute would call home.  Finally temperature is another real issue when tuning.  So I decided to tune the flute to the flat side of the note with the expectation that when the flute finds its way home to Arizona the lower humidity, lower elevation and higher temperatures the note would play closer to fundamental note of A.  We will see… some tweaking down the road may be required.

The final job to complete was to come up with a totem that met the desire of the client by yet allowed me to keep my whimsical tendencies that seems to run a common thread in other totems I have designed.  This flute was to have some sort of horse head totem and so this was what I ended up with.  The new owner likes to affectionately call it the Crazy Horse totem.  Seems fitting…

Listen to Sound Sample from this flute

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Online Chat Available

Now available on Jacksonholetim.com is our live Chat Feature.  Located on the  right side of each web and blog page is an Orange Circle like the one in the picture above.  If you have questions simply click and ask away.  If I am Online you will know it and I will do my best to answer any and all questions.  If I am off-line then an email message will reach me and I will respond accordingly.  I hope this Chat Feature will help you in your search for the right flute, flute supplies or photographic image.

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New Pre-Bored Native Style Flute Blanks Available…

Just a brief post here…  The first 5 of 25 new pre-bored flute blanks have been added to our “Pre-Bored Native American Styled Flute Blank” page.  All five of these are 24″ in length, 7/8″ Bore with a 3 1/2″ Slow Air Chamber (SAC).  The stop block is set to 1 1/4″ in width.  Blanks pictured here are 3 Alaskan Yellow Cedar and 2 Russian Olive blanks.  More to come daily…

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NEW Flute Blanks Soon to Be Ready for Sale…

After a long winter and selling just about most of our winter inventory I am just getting ready to put the final touches on this batch of new Flute Blanks.  In this batch there will be Western Red Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar and a couple of Russian Olive blanks.  Bore sizes will vary from 3/4″ to 1″ in this batch.  All of these blanks will be available for purchase  on Jackson Hole Tim and our Ebay Store.

Old Growth Port Orford Cedar Flute Blanks with Birds Eye Maple Properties – Very Nice blanks

In this batch there will be 5 Old Growth Port Orford Cedar blanks that are all matched and from the same board.  These blanks are very unusual as they have the properties of Birds Eye Maple.  All five of these blanks will be bored at 7/8″ and will feature a slightly longer Slow Air Chamber which should make for very nice Aesthetics.  Each blank will be $52.00 each as these are very rare to come by.  The other POC blanks are also very nice but from different boards.

Any of these blanks can be secured for a commissioned flute as well.  If you are looking for an opportunity to own a truly unique flute blank then one of these five would be the ones.  If you have interest to purchase message me and we can set them aside.  Otherwise you will find them listed very soon.

Contact me by email @ timjen333@gmail.com or call (307) 690-0427.  To secure any one of these POC blanks I will invoice you for full payment and shipping.

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Tony Duncan Plays His New Raven Themed Flute…

Spring Break in Jackson Hole is a welcome time of the year as we are emerging from the depths of Old Man Winter here in Western Wyoming.  Each Spring our kids get 2 full weeks for Spring Break which is plenty of time to take a road trip.  This year a road trip south was needed more than other.  Our epic snowfall was one for the record book and it was still falling upon our departure.

“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

This year our road trip was to take us first to Scottsdale Arizona to visit family and then on to San Diego.  One of the highlights planned was to visit a Scottsdale venue where Tony Duncan was to play.

For those who may not know Tony Duncan is one of our true Native American Music treasures and he is an Award Winning Native American Flute Artist and World Champion Hoop Dancer (5 times World Champion).  Tony has been blessed to play with the likes of Carlos Nakai, Joanne Shenandoah, Nelly Furtado and other great music artists.  He was awarded Artist of the Year at the Native American Music Awards  for 2013-2014 and he has played to huge audiences globally.  Tony has played the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Smithsonian Museum, The Billboard Music Awards, The Tonight Show, and The White House.

The Native American Flute is one of the most beautiful instruments handed down from Mother Earth and when in the hands of Tony, well lets just say a Spirit comes through and straight to your heart.

CLICK IMAGE to hear the voice of this flute. Tony Duncan in Phoenix Arizona
Timothy Jennings and Tony Duncan

Recently I had the opportunity to deliver a flute I made to Tony.  Although this flute took a bit longer than I had wanted I finally was able to have it delivered before our trip to Arizona.  The flute pictured above is the actual flute crafted for Tony and above (picture) is a link of a video sent to me by Tony of him playing it in Arizona shortly thereafter.

We arrived in Scottsdale late Friday evening after driving 900 miles.  Then Saturday morning we made our way down to the Scottsdale Civic Center just in time to hear Tony play and to our great surprise he was playing his new Raven Themed flute.  This man is blessed for sure.  We met his family again and chatted a bit about things and after the show we parted ways and our family went on to eat lunch in town.  But I must tell you how humbled I was to hear the voice of this flute after spending so many hours crafting it.  Tony could not have been more gracious as was his wife Violet.  And his children are so full of life and clearly one big happy family.

For those who would like to seek Tony’s music out he is currently signed to Canyon Records, the largest Native American music label and his music is available through iTunes and other music vendors.  Follow Tony Duncan on FaceBook.  I look forward to the next opportunity to craft another flute for Tony… I hope soon…