December: Sanding metal and a bass marimba by Ben Sloan

Quite a bit of instrument making momentum generated throughout December. Anna Petersen has joined the process equipped with welding skills, knowledge, and gear. The collection of tanks, metal cuffs, and gears were sandblasted to remove rust. The tanks have been cut and turned into metal tongue drums, with tongues at varying lengths, tuned to specific pitches. The sound is a collection of harmonic sustained notes, both meditative and playful. We have a collection of four medium and small tanks, plus a large bronze tank which will be powder coated in the coming months. 

In the last two weeks of the month, I made my way back to Virginia to finish up the frame and keys for the bass marimba. This time around we manufactured a collection of aluminum brackets to house each key. The brackets were cut from a piece of aluminum angle, drilled, rounded, and polished. We milled some pieces of oak for our frame, sanded, added a mortise and tenon joint at each end, and created a nice beveled edge detail. We applied a few finish coats, with a sand in between, and the end result is a beautiful hand crafted bass marimba..that still needs legs and resonators! (coming soon)

Photos of tanks can be found here, and the marimba here

September: A Visit to the Scrapyard by Ben Sloan

My good friend, and incredible ceramicist, photographer, painter, and writer Mauri invited me to the alternate universe that is the Moskowitz Brothers full service recycling center. The landscape was wild; huge cranes lifting thousands of pounds of steel and iron, mountains of sinks, boxes of cymbals, and beautiful shapes with rusting colors everywhere. We spent the day digging through each area, pulling out great pieces to become instruments, or an armature for the instruments themselves. 

Mauri has a keen eye for composition, style, and design, so she very quickly pointed out some great finds. The space itself was so inspiring, that I found ideas for instruments began to generate just by walking around... basically I went home with way too much stuff.