From time to time I come across a flute project I did for someone else and as I look back on it I get excited about how the flute came out. One of my favorite woods to work with is Port Orford Cedar which is not easy to get anymore. But I do have some stashed away for special occasions.
This flute was made for a client in the Cave Creek Arizona area and I really liked how it turned out. The customer wanted to have a flute that voiced an “A” @ 440Hz. As most of you know I live in the Yellowstone Basin here in Wyoming so our altitude and weather patterns are quite a bit different than the desert region of Arizona. Building a flute in Wyoming and shipping to Arizona and hitting the mark for tuning is always a challenge. All in all I think I was able to get pretty close.
What I like about this flute is the simple elegance it embraced and the mix of the Sapodilla Totem Rails, Cutting Edge inlay and the Maple Mustang fetish it was a really eye appealing flute when finished. Easy to play and sounded wonderful. We recorded the sound clip here in Wyoming after it was finished so check out the voice of this flute in the clip below.
Commissioned projects are always fun yet stressful to do. This flute project was one I really enjoyed. I would love to work on another project like this one again for a new customer. Maybe that customer is you? Let me know what you think of this flute in the comments below. If you would like to explore a flute for you similar reach out to me.
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.
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…
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.”
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.
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…
Should you be traveling through Jackson Hole this summer please come visit me in my Studio Gallery. We are easy to find as we are just south of the town of Jackson Hole located just off of the Snake River. If you are looking for a pleasant afternoon and you want to explore something outside of Jackson Hole then take the journey south just 12 miles and view our art.
Please come spend a part of your day with Tim. We are located just about on the mighty Snake River. Take a walk along the river right from our property. Enjoy a beverage complimentary on us. In addition to Flutes some of Tim’s jewelry and local photography will be on display. We can also ship any purchase to your home or business so you don’t have to take it with you.
Artist In Resident
We are in the process of negotiating for a couple of spots in the town of Jackson Hole where Tim will be the Artist In Resident at one of the local establishments. This is still in the works but if and when we get this in the bag we will be posting days and hours you can find Tim in town.
Tim will also be crafting his art at our home studio gallery that will be open this summer. Come visit with Tim and watch how some of his art is actually crafted by hand. Everything will be available for purchase.
The Largest Selection of Flutes in Wyoming
Come see my collection of hand crafted award-winning Native American Styled Flutes here at our Studio Gallery on your next visit to Jackson Hole. The entire selection of Native American Styled flutes are crafted by local award-winning artist Timothy Jennings. We have fully completed flutes, flutes ready for final production (Available to customize), Flute Making Supplies and we will be taking commissions for the winter of 2017 – 2018.
How do you get here?
We will be posting complete instructions on how to get to our property as we get closer to May 1st. We will post a video that will give you a taste of what you can expect to see on your journey.
If you are interested please contact me via phone @ (307) 690-0427 or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to leave a comment to this post if this interests you… I would love to see you…
I have been commissioned to build a new flute from the above pre-glued Black Willow flute blank. Although this blank is currently sitting at a C# @ 440Hz we will be changing this and tuning this flute to the requested 444Hz range. Not sure of the key but I should know pretty quick.
I am building this flute for one of my favorite customers, Mary. She always likes to challenge me with something new and different. This will be the first flute I tune at the “new” 444Hz as she tells me. I am excited to see how this flute turns out. More to follow…
I have started a new project which again is a very high honor for me to have been chosen as their pipemaker. I have received a new commission to build 7 pipes for 7 women who have been studying under Sequoyah-Blue Deer Eagle and Sandra Moon Dancer (Canadian First Nations People) for 4 years to as long as 9 years getting ready to become the pipe carriers for their respective clans.
“We are honoured to receive pipes from a master pipemaker, whose hands are guided by Spirit. It is with deep gratitude that we send this message.
Sequoyah-Blue Deer Eagle”
These woman have been studying the Mother Earth teachings that have been handed down for hundreds if not thousands of years by their ancestors. These seven woman will be honored in ceremony in 2017 with these pipes and take a very important role with their people.
I cannot emphasize enough how humbled and honoured I am to have been selected to complete this project. I am not Native but yet I have been selected for this sacred task and once again I will honor my commitment to the First Nations People of Canada to bring to them 7 pipes that will in turn bring honor to these woman and help them on their very important new journey that they will undertake early next year!
The “Nakota” Souix (pronounced nah-KO-tah ) is the tribe’s name for themselves and may mean“friends” or “allies.” It comes from the Yankton word, Nakhota, sometimes translated as “alliance of friends.” another meaning for the name is “those who consider themselves kindred.”
Once I had accepted this commission which was and is a great honor, I knew I had an important task set before me. As I pondered the path I would take to craft the sacred pipe that was to be an Eagle pipe I for some reason decided to start two pipes at the same time, one of which is the pipe you see before you here and the other at the top of this post. It was made very clear to me the importance of the commission I was about to undertake and the very next day I started on the journey with great passion – a journey that would end with two pipes.
The most important task was to complete the Tree of Unity Peace Walk pipe then I could focus on the second pipe to follow which I am calling “Anukasa and the Range – Nakhota, Alliance of Friends”. This eagle pipe will be seen by thousands of people at the upcoming Western Design Conference to be held this weekend here in Jackson Hole Wyoming. I am hoping to share a small glimpse into the world of the Sacred Pipe by way of display.
As many of you know I live in Jackson Hole Wyoming, home of the Teton Mountain Range, known worldwide. This powerful mountain range rises above the Teton Valley and it is the Southern Gateway into the Yellowstone Basin. Les Trois Tetons it is believed was the name given to the mountain range by the Iroquois or French Canadian trappers in the very early 1800’s. Since then these majestic peaks have been called by many names.
It is a very rare event that I trek north of Jackson Hole when I do not see one or more Bald Eagles soaring around the valley and into the base of these mountains. When you see the majesty of these magnificent birds and how they interact with Mother Earth and her ranges it is clear there is an Alliance of Friends or another way of saying it is Nakota or Nakhota which are names used to describe today’s Assiniboine First Nations People.
So why use this translation and not something else? Well truth be told all of the Sacred Pipestone I receive comes from a single family who are Assiniboine descendants and they live on the Assiniboine Reservations located in Northeastern Montana. Donovan Archambault is my Assiniboine Elder Mentor, a Master Pipe Maker in his own right. Each summer Donovan and younger parts of his family travel back to their ancestral region in Minnesota to hand quarry the sacred stone from Mother Earth. It is then hauled back from Minnesota to Montana where I gather stone that was hand quarried and allotted for me.
So it is in this spirit that I use the Name of the Nakota people and their indigenous language translation for the name “Eagle”. When you see these powerful and very sacred birds interact with the nature that surrounds us here in the Yellowstone Basin you can certainly grasp the Alliance that must take place between their very nature and Mother Earth in order for them to survive.
Every Once and a while a project comes along that really finds a place in your soul. This is one of those times. On Monday I will be shipping this project to its new owner in Canada. A First Nations man will carry this flute with him on an upcoming journey that will take him across Canada over a two-year period.
The idea for this flute came about after recently delivering a Native Styled pipe to the Western Ojibwe in Canada for which I was commissioned to craft. In a way this flute is a continuation of this pipe. The pipe which will be carried across Canada for the upcoming Tree of Peace Unity Walk will now have this flute as it’s companion. I have named this flute the “Spirit of the Pipe”.
I shared a vision with my Elders, Clan Mothers, and Grandfathers. At the Council Fire they contemplated my vision, and in turn, they received a vision of a Sacred Eagle Pipe that was to be gifted to me. Through ceremony and reflection, Spirit guided us to Timothy. The Elders, Clan Mothers, and Grandfathers saw in his previous work, that it was evident that Timothy has a connection with the spirit of the materials he uses. This was very important to us as this Sacred Eagle Pipe will lead a Tree of Peace Unity Walk and the planting of 44 Peace Trees across Canada. This Unity Walk is the vision I received that will bring together First Nations Peoples and all Canadians for world peace and the healing of Mother Earth. When I received the pipe in a ceremony, I felt the energy of Timothy’s connection with the spirit in the wood and stone, in the making of this sacred pipe. Timothy is a master craftsman and artist who’s hands are blessed by the Great Spirit. In gratitude from myself and the Elders, Clan Mothers, and Grandfathers of the Cherokee, Iroquois, Ojibwe, and Cree of the Council Fire of this vision, we honor Timothy and his creation of the sacred pipe.
Walk Sacred, Talk Sacred,
Jesse-Blue Forrest – Sequoyah-Blue Deer Eagle
I wanted to incorporate the spirit from the sacred pipe by attaching a mouth piece to the flute that was crafted from the very same stone the pipe was made from. In addition my plans were to craft a cabochon from the same stone to inlay into this flute. In my mind’s eye this addition of the stone to the flute would help carry the spirit of this pipe over to the flute. I had hopes that this flute would share in the very same journey as the pipe.
As one draws in the smoke from the pipe in ceremony this same breath would give life through their playing of the flute. If this were to happen this would accomplish my vision for this piece.
This six hole flute features a 1″ inch bore crafted from Old Growth Alaskan Yellow Cedar. It is tuned to the Key of D#. It features the Four Winds tuning holes and by most standard this is a large flute. Although I think it is the perfect size as its new owner like me is a large man and should have no trouble playing it.
The theme for the pipe was that of the Eagle and so too we carried the same theme through to the flute by adding a fetish that represents a whimsical vision of the Eagle in flight. The fetish sits between two rails crafted from a special wood called Sapodilla. This reclaimed wood has much the same color tones as the pipestone.
One of the interesting twists in all of this is that the Tree of Peace Unity Walk will start it’s journey on a sacred mountain on Vancouver
Island. The very same place the Alaskan Yellow Cedar used in this flute was harvested from several years ago.
It is always an honor when I have the opportunity to be commissioned for a project. I am always humbled that there are those who find my style of art pleasing. But it is especially humbling when I am given the opportunity to create something as special as these two projects for the First Nations People of Canada and know that they will be used in Ceremony and not used as a cliché…
I always enjoy the opportunity to create something unique for a client. Kirk’s love for the pipe goes back to his childhood when his dad would work in their garage and smoke a pipe while he pondered his next move on whatever project he was tackling. Kirk wanted a simple yet functional Native Styled Pipe for his collection and personal use.
Although this was not a fancy pipe it is a perfect size for personal use. This personal pipe was crafted for Kirk who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. The pipestone I used for this personal pipe was actually the remnants from another eagle pipe I made a couple of years ago. I throw nothing out from the sacred pipestone and try to use as much of it as I can.
“I am writing to let you know how pleased I am with the Native American pipe you crafted. I provided no input of my expectations and am thrilled with the interpretation, design and workmanship of the pipe you created.
The wood working is perfect and pipe stone carving of the tee pee and feathers is spiritual and, to me, soulful. It is truly a work of art, but functions well as a working pipe. It draws well, has no problem staying lit and is a pleasure to smoke. When not being used, it is proudly displayed in a cabinet in my den, where it receives a lot of attention and compliments.
Thank you again.”
Exec. Vice President /Principal
Daum Commercial Real Estate Services
The pipe had carved into the long part of the stone 2 feathers, one on each side. An eagles head on one side and a representation of a tepee on the other. The pipestem was crafted from Old Growth Black Walnut that I gathered from the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountain outside of Boulder Colorado.
The stem was decorated with hand cut bison hide lace, crow glass beads and an owl feather (replica) wrapped in traditional trade cloth and sinu. Over all this was a very cool little pipe and as I understand it the Kirk smokes it (tobacco only) twice each year on two special days that have meaning for the family.
I was honored that Kirk had come to me for this project. Kirk is a lifetime friend of mine and that made this commission even more special. He is one of the finest people I have ever known and I look forward to a time when we can smoke it together.
It is always an honor when someone reaches out to me for a special project they have in mind. This flute was no exception. This piece was commissioned by a gentleman in Scottsdale Arizona who had a vision for a flute he wanted. Originally this project was to have a Bison theme to it but soon after we started construction there was a change request which we agreed to as it seem to make perfect sense.
This 6 hole flute is hand crafted from Old Growth Black Walnut and features Old Growth Alaskan Yellow Cedar Fetish rails. The Eagle fetish is crafted from both Black Walnut and the bird itself is from Maple. As with every flute I build specifically for someone I look for the story behind the project. In this case this buyers story fit the end product we will finally deliver this week.
The genesis for this flute started back in the mid 1850’s when pioneers heading west brought with them Walnut trees to be planted around their farm houses and barns.
“Wow! That is a masterpiece, a master who is in touch with the spirit of the material. One who is truly connected to the elements of Mother Earth. It has been an honor to know you and your work. The Great Spirit, the Creator has gifted you. ”
The walnut this flute came from was harvested from trees planted just west of Boulder Colorado and as best we can tell the tree was planted around 1850 or so.
The Alaskan Yellow Cedar used for the rails comes from Old Growth trees cut from Vancouver Island that are at least hundreds of years old and the Maple also came from the Boulder Colorado area. So this lumber has traveled another 500 miles north to my shop here along the Snake River here in Jackson Wyoming. Then one last journey of 900 miles to its new home in Scottsdale Arizona.
The Eagle Theme was something I had not really done previously and when Jim shared with me other eagle fetish designs he had seen and liked I knew I would need to find a fetish that fits within my whimsical fetish designs and its coming marriage to this flute. I did not want this to be in any way a representation of someone elses work.
Because I live along the Snake River there are many Bald Eagle nests around my home and while on my afternoon walks I would watch the males fishing from above. This fetish is my representation of watching these magnificent birds dive for fish along the river and this is where the idea for this particular bird came from.
I wanted to inlay a stone into this flute so I selected a piece of polished Idaho Picture Jasper and set it in a silver bezel which I inlaid into the body of the flute. I really liked the colors in this stone as it really seems to match the colors found in both the flute, the leather and the stands. Although this is a time-consuming value add I really like how it came out and this stone seemed to be right at home once it was set. All of
the leather accents are from hand selected Bison hides matching the
colors in the stone perfectly.
One really cool feature is the way the feathers (replicas) are hung from the flute body. In stead of using trade cloth and sinew to wrap the upper portion of the leather straps I hand crafted a stone bead crafted from a piece of Catlinite (Sacred Pipestone) and it acts kind of like a bolo tie which makes it easy to adjust and even remove the feathers if desired. Another time-consuming value add but well worth the effort as it really makes or a clean presentation.
The stands came right out of the forest behind my home here in Wyoming. I guess you could say they are truly repurposed tree branches. Anyway I wanted to make something simple, yet functional and look good too. Finally I added a hand crafted Bison leather case for the flute to be carried or stored in. Hand crafted by Leah Burgess from Riversong Leather Studios out of Laramie Wyoming. This is a beautiful work of art all in its own right.
Once the flute was complete and ready to be delivered I added the final accents of leather braid and beads. The beads that hang from the braid are a combination of Sterling Silver and Glass Crow beads. We added a 4th hole leather cover that can be used as is or removed. All in all a very nice project that I am very proud of ! Oh… and it plays nice and sounds good. Listen to the clip below…
Future Commissions are available for those interested in a project of their own so reach out to me with questions at “email@example.com” … I would love to make one for you.