August: Trip to Virginia by Ben Sloan

I spent two weeks in August working on the first few pieces of the park. It was a crash course/brush up on different types of wood, tools, and building techniques. I was fortunate to be under the guidance of my father Stephen Sloan, as we worked in his shop. He is truly a master woodworker, and has seemingly lived 9 lives. As a boy he lived in Japan for a short time, absorbing the beauty of traditional Japanese wood working. He returned home to Tucson Arizona, and as he grew and developed his personal style, a natural fusion of Southwestern, and Japanese aesthetics began to emerge. In the 1970's while living and making furniture in Berkeley, he began to save the old growth trees being felled and burnt to make way for the new vineyard craze throughout the Napa Valley. He milled huge slabs of wood using an Alaskan chainsaw mill and small crew, making weekly deliveries to furniture and cabinet makers, including some of the greats such as George Nakashima and Sam Maloof

Fast forward to August..After much research and head scratching we began to craft a variety tongue drums, and the beginnings of both a concert marimba and bass marimba. The process of making a marimba bar takes careful calculation for initial size, width, and thickness. Once each bar is cut and planed to size, it is then slowly sanded at different points to properly tune both the fundamental pitch, and a series of overtones. As wood is shaved, the pitch lowers, allowing the bar to vibrate more freely. If too much is taken off, the bar dips below the desired pitch, and the wood is rendered useless, fortunately this only happened..twice, or maybe three times. Though still under construction the bass marimba bars are nearing completion! 

Check the gallery below for some of my fathers furniture, and a portrait of an artist (dad) as a young man..