Monday, February 15, 2010

New flute: "Kingfisher" mid-G ~27" long


I guess I should be thankful I can turn out any flutes at all this especially wintry winter, given my lack of a shop!  The latest one to be finished out is a wonderful playing mid-G closed-end flute of a Kingfisher.

In a closed end flute, when the two routed blanks are glued together, the very end of the flute isn't an open circle...that bore is stopped with (in this case) 4" of wood left solid...the 'exit hole' to let the flute know its the end of the routed barrel is an oval cut out of the bottom.  The leftover chunk of wood at the end allows you to carve whatever you'd this case, I had been seeing lots of Belted Kingfishers, so I figured that was good enough 'message' to go that route.  I do have one other Kingfisher close to this design that was adopted several years ago...I don't make too many of these flutes as they take a lot more time and can be a bit tricky to voice out to my high standards.  This one is a one bold player.

Flutemakers who put carvings on the end do so in many ways.  Some add wood to make the head taller/wider, and some glue on the carving after making a regular flute.  I like to make the carving withing the flute's parameters without adding anything, just my choice.  The Kingfisher's eyes are jet black, so I inserted Hematite beads and painted them black.  While the head tufts are noticeable in real life, like the back of a Merganser's head, that's a bit impossible to carve/create on a flute, hence my 'stylized' burned ridges on the nape.  I opted to apply the same gloss finish I did on the flute, though I may go back and put a satin finish on just the head...or give a potential 'parent' that option if they want it.

It's made of quartersawn Southern Red Oak, only the second flute I've made from that wood, mainly because it takes a lot longer to finish well because of the significant open grain.  There is an inserted Ebony band behind the block, simply there for a design and color balance.  Once the flute was voiced out, I overdrilled each playing hole with a 1/2" bit and glued in Walnut plugs...once dried, I sanded them down and drilled out the centers, returning the flute to pitch.  The 'rings' around the holes give the flute a very nice 'look' without too much extra trouble. 

The block is a piece of Claro Walnut...well, technically Claro is a grafted Walnut with intense figure, and this may just be crotch Walnut (where two large trunks or limbs branch apart - always full of figure, that part of any tree).  As I started to shape the block, I really didn't know how I was going to shape it, so I started with the arcing concave top, shaping the 'tail' to a point.  The block looked too chunky at that point, so I decided to thin the 'waist' of the block, and kept going until I had this trapezoidal shape that I found pleasing to the eye.  I often gravitate towards simple sweeping lines in blocks for their aesthetic beauty...each being custom made, such blocks require lots of hand-sanding.  

(FYI, there is a sound sample of it on the flute website under 'Specialty' flutes.  Blogger lets me add video, but not purely audio samples, sorry!)

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