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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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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.

fluteblanks1

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.

ogw_blankset

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

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Cool New Jackson Hole Hat Now Available…

Teton_BrushStroke_idea4Many of you know Teton Marketing because of the Native American Flutes they handcraft right here in Jackson Hole.  Teton Marketing is growing and adding new products all the time.  Recently they released their first hat that was primarily a hat to help spread the word about the company. Now they add a new hat that should appeal to everyone who lives or visits Jackson Hole.

tmt_cap_JH_Front__ebay_05High Altitude Designs from Teton Marketing is a new line of active wear clothing that people can use every day living here in Jackson Hole and beyond. Watch for the introduction of clothing, hats and more as they introduce them throughout the summer.  Each clothing item will be branded with the Teton Marketing logo and appropriate taglines.  All logos and taglines will be embroidered for a clean tasteful look.  Teton Marketing hopes that you will enjoy each addition as they come available.

tmt_cap_foreverwest_back_ebay_05The current Teton Marketing hats come from the Otto Collection and they are adjustable to fit any head. There are now offer three versions of the hats, all three versions feature variations of the Teton Marketing Logo, the website address, the Wyoming Bucking horse,  the state name “Wyoming”, “Forever West” and of coarse “Jackson Hole”on the back of the cap.  All of the current caps are jet black in color. These are very nice hats and all logos are embroidered, not silk screened. Each hat is $23.99 plus shipping. They are planning to add several more hat designs for those of you who love Jackson Hole Wyoming as much as they do. You can Get your Teton Marketing hat today at www.tetonmarketing.com.

About Their Logo

Teton_BrushStrokeOnly_70x127wymadeInspired by the place they live. The Teton Range is truly one of the most inspiring mountain range in the world. Most people equate the Grand Tetons with Jackson Hole. Their Logo for Teton Marketing is their vision of what they see everyday. Like many of their flute fetishes that tend to be more whimsical, their logo falls comfortably in line with them. They tried to find a balance between a literal view of the range and their whimsical view. We think they accomplished this.  Visit their website to see other products offered from Teton Marketing…