Tuesday, March 09, 2010

New flute: "Spirit Horse" (mid F#)

Finally, here my latest creation, one I've named "Spirit Horse".  It's a closed end flute of Papua New Guinea Walnut, keyed to mid F# (F#4).  It's got a beautiful voice, if I do say so myself, but as I write I've not made a sound file of it yet.

(click on pics to enlarge)

I don't have any deep hidden meanings in any of the designs, although the thunderstorm on the forehead is just that. For me it represents the Thunderbeings, and the supercell storms of the Plains. To the Native Americans, the horse of the west wasn't on the scene until the early Spaniards brought them.  Once tamed, the horse transformed many tribal cultures, not only for transportation but also for hunting and certainly warfare.  Spiritually, the horse represents freedom and power, a spirit that cannot be broken.  It also represents safe passage into the 'new'.

When I finally decided to make a horse from the solid wood end, I immediately wanted it to look like it was at full gallop...I wanted that movement, that freedom, that unbridled spirit (literally and figuratively!)...and I had this abstract idea of color and designs instead of a 'normal' look, more representative of the Spirit/Dream world. (Too, it may have been a hold-over from painting the Hippie Flute!).  But what to do for the block?

I certainly didn't want a second horsehead...and a regular sweeping bird didn't seem to work.  I thought about an old style geometric block found on the oldest Plains flutes, but then I had this idea to stylize the mane flying in the wind...

I wasn't sure how to get the effect, but since I decided to keep the mane black, I knew I had some flat pieces of Ebony.  I chose a basic block for the base, angled for aesthetics...could have made it 100% Ebony, but it absorbs no moisture and makes a flute 'wet out' under the block where moist breath travels.  I cut four long rectangles of Ebony, and then used my oscillating drum sander to make the 'waves' for the flying mane, hitting the corners as well to round each over.  Too, I wanted a tad separation between the tips of each piece, so I sanded a little off the sides of each tail.  I actually made about 6 pieces, and then sat down and played with it like a puzzle.  I wanted each to look different and not be aligned in the same way...I thought that would be easy but it took some real manipulation to get the four pieces I liked in a precise order.  With a little glue and more sanding, the concept came to life.

I was orginally going to leave the Mahogany base natural, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea of reintroducing the turquoise, so I painted it.  While I had ideas for doing other ornamentation, once the block was finished, I had that feeling of peace that my new 'kid' was just as it needed to be.

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