Oh, Say Can You See

In all of my deep thoughts lately I have lost focus on my purpose in beginning this whole blogging adventure.  I had not been very successful at spending time in my studio.  So, Sunday I for went the usual veg out evening and decided to put some time in working on the next guitar. I know it was Mother’s Day. I can hear you thinking the vegging out thing more fitting but not me.  Even the most physically demanding tasks in a creative adventure are relaxing to me.
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I glued in most of the inlays on the new bass guitar project.  I just need to touch them up when I sand them later.  They are pearl stars and now replace the boring dots that used to fill the neck.  Still undecided on a name for it but it will come to me.  This one will be patriotic.  It represents “Courageous Freedom” to me because of the country I proudly abide in and served while in the military.  I know this country has it’s flaws because decisions are made by flawed people.  Sure some have agendas that are not so positive but most think they are making the right choices.  I am reminded of Francis Scott Key and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner” when I thing of this project so I an going for worn flag look.   I was going to paraphrase this article I just read from http://www.smithsonianmag.com but found it too interesting to leave parts out so I did the old copy and paste.  It goes like this:

One rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the American fort for 25 hours. The bombardment, known as the Battle of Baltimore, came only weeks after the British had attacked Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the Treasury and the President’s house. It was another chapter in the ongoing War of 1812.

A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key’s tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go. They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.

“It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.

Next time you see the flag flying try not to think of all of the turmoil surrounding the USA; the riots, the political games, the negative media propaganda.  Instead remind yourself of the freedoms we have been granted.  I once saw a Facebook post that was riddled with obscenities trashing the government and it’s military. It was extremely abusive to veterans.   I chose not to reply but I wanted to say, as a veteran, “You are welcome”.  Our government and military just gave you the right to say those things publicly.  It takes Courage and Freedom to say what needs to be or not to be said. A courageous freedom.

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No Rest For The Weary

Time to get back at it.  No rest for the weary they say.  Who every that is I would like to slap them.  Why can’t the weary rest?  Is it because weary people just don’t rest, hence why they are weary?  Just a random thought.  It seems I am always tired but I am one of those that chooses not to rest.  There is always so much to accomplish.  Life is too short to do nothing.

So, with that, I started back on the second guitar in the “Courageous Freedom” series.  I sanded down the body a few weeks ago and this week started working on putting different inlays in the neck.  I debated on not changing them but once I got it in my head that I wanted stars instead of the usual dots I just couldn’t let it go.  I would have loved to have left it alone and spared myself about 5 hours of work but that would not have satisfied me.  It would have glared at me each time I saw it wondering “what if”.  I am withholding what the final result is going to look like just to tease you guys.  I will tell you that it is a bass guitar.  My love.

I have not worked on the pipes abstract I started a month ago but it is still on my mind.  I carried it with me for weeks while caring for my Dad but just could not seem to pull it out and work on it.  I could not get my mood right to do the work.  I know art can be a wonderful outlet in times of stress but I couldn’t get to that point.  Now that my life is opening up I want to get back on it.  The struggle is to get caught up on the things that went neglected during my busy season.

Why do I make choices that keep me so overloaded?  Could it be that I want to do more than everyone around me.  No, that’s not it.  I try not to make mental notes about what others are doing.  Could it be that I am afraid to do nothing one day that it will be a habit and I will never achieve anything again?  No, not that either.  How about the need for attention?  Maybe, a little.  I am, after all the third of four siblings and was born to older parents.  Is it where I find my worth?  Man, I hope not!

I can’t completely answer for certain.  I just know that ideas pop into my head all the time and if I don’t get them out it gets crowded.  My husband has, in the past, said he imagined inside my head was like the lottery machine they use on TV to make the number selections.  Ideas bounce around and I randomly select one to do.  It can be exhausting but it is me and I accept that because I am accepted. After all I am beautifully and wonderfully made by my creator.

Neigh Saying

It seemed like it took weeks to finally get to Saturday.  I was so excited to have a day at home. It was a lazy morning and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, there were things that had to be done, things that were neglected like my yucky house.  I spent the morning trying to knock out the things I hated doing the most first.  I had only scratched the surface with my new guitar project, figuratively and literally.  It sat in my studio all alone.  I even went to look at it once as a reminder that it was waiting for me to finish.  I quickened my pace, even more eager.  Then it happened.  I had to leave my home to take my son to an event.  Noooooo!  The distraction I was afraid of.  I knew once I went out in public my social skills would kick in and my Saturday would evaporate.

We went and yes, it was a wonderful social engagement.  I was surprised by my ability to stay on a good schedule and return home in a timely manner.  This was probably due to my son not being the social butterfly that I am.  I returned home with time still left in my day.  I was focused. I was ready.  It was time.

I set up the guitar and began to sand.  I was shocked at the layers of this particular one.  I had already used a blow torch to burn the clear coating and most of the paint off.  (Side note:  Sometimes adequate ventilation is still not enough, nausea is a good indicator that a mask should be used as well.)  It was after the paint was nearly sanded off that I realized it had a layer of what appeared to be Masonite.  I would not stop until I had bare wood.  No mater how long it took.  One hour later I was there.  Finally.  I took off my mask, and wiped my glasses to take a more careful look at it.  Awesome beginning.  Then I looked around my garage.  What a mess!  I had completely coated everything, including my dog, with dust.  It was so thick it changed the color of my sons bike and my husbands old car.  What had I done.  I had successfully created another Saturday cleaning project.

I was so focused, so narrowed in my purpose I didn’t see all that was going on around me. Once I got started it was like I had on blinders.  Just like the horses I used to watch on Little House On The Prairie.  I looked up why some horses wore blinders.  I never really gave it a lot of thought before but, evidently horses are considered animals of prey.  That is why their eyes are on the sides of their heads.  So they can see nearly all the way around their body.  Their only blinds spots are right in front of their nose and behind their tail.  Without blinders, young, shy horses can become frightened by the wagon they are pulling and they are used on race horses so that they only focus forward, the finish line.  However, a horse with blinders must be led.  It will not go or turn on its own where it cannot already see.  Some people feel that the use of blinders is cruel and inhumane.  I will not debate this since I lack any substantial knowledge on the subject.  In Russia, they do not use them at all.  Horses there learn not to be shy and become more focused over time.

Why did I just give you a short history lesson about horse blinders?  Well, since you asked.  I had my blinders on Saturday.  All day they kept me working toward my goal.  Not too bad a plan but when I got to that goal they limited me.  They caused me to create another task that will take away more of my precious time.

Do we become dependent on things such as blinders?  Maybe people or excuses?  Becoming shy and limited by a harness.  Sure, being focused during the day will help you get to your goal but be careful.  When you have blinders on, you will not go where you cannot see.  You will not see where you do not go.  And you will easily be led to places you shouldn’t be.

Cue the choir it’s the big reveal!

Ahh! Can you hear the choir holding out that long note and see a yellow light slowly getting brighter as if the sun were dawning in super fast speed?  It is the big reveal day!

It all started about five years ago when I bought a guitar that was greatly abused. The finish was dotted from BB shots and the wiring had come unsoldered.  To those of you who know something about guitars it was a Lyons by Washburn and had tribal art on it.

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I decided I would reclaim it, so to speak.  After removing the neck, all the hardware and electronics it was time to find out what was under the paint.  I read and Googled and read some more.  I then choose a process of removing the finish I had never heard of before, blow torching.  It was so much fun!  Just like popcorn flying everywhere and in no time at all the finish had popped off down to bare wood.

I really do not want to bore you with all the details but I do want to hit the highlights.  Yes, they are brutal but if you look closely they have a beautiful quality about them.  Not only do most plants that have thorns produce brightly colored flowers but the vines themselves have wonderful details.  I drew the design and outlined it with a hobby knife. I have always had an appreciation for thorns.  After lots of tedious hours of sanding and carving this is what I ended up with before finishing.

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I finally made my decision on finishing it off by torching it and using a satin poly. A friend of mine recommended a Seymore Duncan pickup and set it up for me. This is the final result.

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I hope to have a video of it being played next post.  As well as the beginning of my next project.

Not that I want to over think this process but when I began with this project this guitar had all the signs of a rough life.  If had skulls and beat up marks and didn’t even play.  It was a long process but with lots of loving care it has become a beautiful work of art.  It progressed quickly at first and then sat wrapped gently in a soft towel, protected, unfinished and unknown.  With it finally out and finished I want to proudly show it off.

Let God give you that re-purposing.  It may take a long time but do not be content with being protected and set aside.  Step out of your comfort zone and BE so He can proudly show you off.