Monday, 6 November 2017

Fate Takes a Hand...

Note:  This was originally written just before my Before the Rush Show.

May I suggest that if you have not already read my last post entitled "A New Harp Journey" that you read that before reading this one - it might make more sense that way!

So, here I was with my Marion 34 Double Strung harp newly repaired, renovated and ready to be played (apart from some strings that were broken and we had ordered).  Last Monday Phil told me that he had found a double strung Eve 22 harp in Ontario within easy reach.  We had originally talked about buying an Eve harp kit and he would build this over the winter.  This one was only five months old and had a padded case and Truitt levers on F strings and one on the G above middle C.

It's amazing how there are none anywhere and when you least expect it, up pops exactly what you are looking for!

Early Tuesday morning Phil hit the road and late afternoon arrived home with the new addition to our harp family - Eve.  What a beautiful little harp she is and also has a very lovely voice for such a small harp.  Here is Carolyn Deal playing an identical Eve - click here.

I have not had much time to play Eve yet as we have been working hard preparing for my biggest Artisan Show of the year starting Friday October 27, 2017 for three days - "Before the Rush" at The Ivy Resort in Ivy Lea.  However, when we set up this morning, I included Eve as a part of my display alongside our CDs we have for sale.

Now I have two double strung harps and will embark on learning how to play them both over the winter months, when there are no shows and the snow lays deep on the ground.  

Wish me luck!!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A New Harp Journey

I was quite happy downsizing my harp collection to four this year and really, (honestly) had no intention of buying anything else.  I have two Triplett Lever Harps, a 46 string pedal harp and a brass wire strung lap harp (clarsach).  Plenty of harps here for me to play.

Now, I often go on the web looking for new music to play and I was doing this a few days ago.  I must have put in a search for music to do with "water" because it brought up a tutorial by Carolyn Deal on her own composition called "Water Fairies".  So, I listened and watched, but although the tune was absolutely lovely, it was the harp I was looking at.  A double strung harp, 29 strings on one side and 29 on the other.  I had heard of double strung, but had never seen one and really did not know how it was played.

After watching another of Carolyn's tutorials, I was fascinated.  So, I watched another and another and another.  The videos are really well done and Carolyn includes a piece of music, photo view of where she lives in the mountains of North Carolina and photos of her beautiful young granddaughter at the beginning of each video.  I emailed Carolyn to ask for a full list of her tutorials in the right order and she came back with a mine of information, which was great for a newbie to double strung harps like me.  Carolyn plays Stoney End Double Strung harps and is also a distributor for them.  You can find demos of these harps on Carolyn's videos on Utube.  Click here   I showed my husband, Phil, a couple of the tutorials and he found them fascinating as well.

Anya arrived like this!

Now Phil is what I call "A Finder".  He has found all of the harps I have owned over the years. 

All bandaged up!
Anya finished

Take Anya for instance - 
a Selena 46 string pedal harp.  
Totally wrecked during a aircraft flight.

Piece broken right off.  But Phil found a way to join these pieces and then bandaged her up.  Then we waited for everything to dry.  But it was definitely worth the wait.

 Anya turned out beautifully.

Then there was Fiona, who was run over by a fork lift truck in transit.  Phil had a friend carve a swan's head to replace the piece broken off.  Then he put it back together, restrung her and replaced the broken levers with Truitt levers.  Phil also repairs other stringed instruments like guitars, cellos and violins.

I was so interested in the double strung harp that Phil decided to look for a secondhand one, but had no luck.  Then one evening he found a damaged one on the web.  No photo and very little information.  Phil called the seller a couple of times but no reply.  Finally he managed to make contact and made arrangements to collect it.  Now I have to mention here that the harp was 6 hours down into the United States and we hadn't even seen a photo and knew very little about it.  But Phil had a feeling?!?  Off he went at 4.30 am the next morning, returning at 6.30 pm that evening with the harp.

What a mess it was in.  A huge split down the right side and it was covered in grime, dust and candle wax (don't ask!).  After dinner Phil did some research and it turns out it is a Stoney End Marion 34 Double Strung (that makes 68 strings total!!!!).  

With the help of multiple clamps and a really good glue, Phil bound it up and we began the wait to see if it would hold.

Finally the clamps came off and the scraping and sanding began.  Then the painting to make it look like the rest of the harp.  It turned out great and I have been tuning for a couple of days and the strings are holding pitch.  We need to replace a number of the lower register strings, but she is saved.

Phil decided to call Stoney End Harps to purchase the missing strings.  Gary Stone of Stoney End explained that this harp was one of only two in existence and he was happy that we were going to restore her to her former glory.  Harpist, Joy Hoffman owns the other one. 

Little did I realize when I discovered Carolyn's tutorials that within 2 days I would own a double strung harp.  Fate has a strange way of intervening.  Now it is all down to me.  I have decided to follow Carolyn's tutorials and really learn how to use this harp to the best of my ability.  I can see from her very understandable and fun lessons that it will be a great instrument for improvisation, which is a skill I have never been able to master, but hope to do so in the future.  

Thank you, Carolyn, for pointing me in the direction of my new harp journey.

Wish me luck, everyone and stay tuned for my progress.

Here is my Stoney End Marion 34 Double Strung harp.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Harvest Moon Festival

The Harvest Moon Festival is a magical outdoor festival dedicated to bringing people together in celebration of nature and spiritual wellness.  There was also music and food for all to enjoy.

It is held outside at a property on Lamb's Pond just north of Brockville.  The workshops available included yoga, drumming circle, massage, Reiki to name but a few.   The owners of the property also host weddings and other events to encourage  people to enjoy the scenery.

This year I was invited to take part as a vendor with my Artful Dragon Studio jewelry.  But I thought it might be good to add a little something and so took three of my harps along for people to try.  

Phil and I often hear people comment at our musical gigs that it is the first time they have seen a harp in real life.  So here was their opportunity - and a lot of people took advantage of the offer.

It was a great day and the funny moment was, that there was a yoga class going on behind my tent and so while that was in progress I thought I would just noodle quietly on the harp so as not to disturb anyone.  Well, after the class ended, two ladies came over and thanked me for the perfect music to go with their class.  I hadn't a clue they could hear me!!!

Congratulations to the organizers and the owner's of Lamb's Pond - it was outstanding.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Rain Stops Play, but not for long!

Firstly a few words about "The Weather".  It has been a very strange Spring and Summer.  So much rain, thunderstorms and very high water levels in our waterways.  Our St. Lawrence River was so high this year that many buildings and businesses along the shores sustained serious damage.

Someone's boathouse, so sad.
The satellite dish is on our dock!!
Normally, we launch our sailboat "Anam Cara" as early in May as we can, but this year our dock was under water and our marina building main floor also under water.  We finally launched Anam Cara in early August and have a temporary dock until marina repairs have been completed.

The continual rain meant that my first show on the Canada Day weekend in Gananoque (outside) was a real washout.  The Saturday was the first day and we were setting up and walking about in 3" of liquid mud.  It rained so hard that our tent roof began to leak and the water was dropping onto the jewelry set out on tables.  We had to pack up the jewelry and head home to repair some of the boxes and signage.  However, Sunday and Monday were better days and the Sun did come out for a while.

Now on to something much brighter.  My new mixed metal collection, Cobraal, is coming along really well and I have completed a number of the Sterling Silver cutlery pieces for the Stylish Vintage Sterling Collection.  Here is "Hello, Mr. Rabbit".  The hardest part of this particular collection is finding the right Sterling Silver spoons.  We have been searching antique shops and flea markets wherever we go!

If you would like to see more of my work click Here

I have also been working on some larger mixed metal pieces, with a lot more detail in the cutting work.  This piece measures approximately 4 x 6", plus the frame.

The first piece I completed was called "Forest Path" and here it is - same size as the Tree of Life.  

The Ivy Restaurant
Both these pieces and hopefully one more (when I have it finished) will be available at the Before the Rush Show in October.  This is an excellent show at a beautiful venue, right on the shores of the St. Lawrence River - The Ivy Restaurant and Coachhouse in Ivy Lea.  I. 

As the name suggests, this show invites the public to do some early Christmas shopping and find that special gift for someone or for themselves.  The artists are exceptional and their work ranges from fine art, through furniture, glass, ceramics, stone, jewelry and much more.  You can check out the participating artists on the Before the Rush website here and their Facebook page here.

Before the Rush takes place on Friday October 27, 2017 from 6 - 9 pm, Saturday October 28, 2017 from10 am to 5 pm and Sunday October 29, 2017 from 10 am to 4 pm.  Free admission, food and wine available.  Generously supported by Sotheby's Canada International Realty.

Join us where passion and originality complement excellence in design and hand-work to bring you a stunning selection of highly collectible fine craft and art for you, your home or friends and family.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

It's that time of year...

Yes, the show season is beginning for The Artful Dragon Studio.  This year's new collection is all metal.  Mixed metals, Sterling Silver and whatever else I find in my travels.  It's been fun learning a whole new set of skills required to work with metal and lots of new tools to play with.  

"Best Friends" is the piece on the left and "Deer in the Wood" on the right.  Both pieces include Copper, Brass and Aluminium - hence the collection name of Cobraal.

Here is a list of the shows I will be participating in during 2017:

July 1 and 2, 2017 - Rotary Arts and Crafts Fair, City Hall Park in Gananoque

August 5, 6, 7, 2017 - Merrickville Canalfest Fine Craft Show and Sale, 
in the grounds close to the lock in Merrickville

August 26, 2017 - Mallorytown Village Fair next to Mallorytown Coach House

September 16, 2017 at Lambs Pond, 6436 New Dublin Rd, outside Brockville

October 19, 2017 - Christmas in October at Brockville General Hospital 

October 27, 28, 29, 2017 - Before the Rush at The Ivy Restaurant, at The Ivy Lea Club, 61 Shipman's Lane, Lansdowne, Ontario K0E 1L0

November 19, 2017 - Fulford Place Victorian Christmas, Brockville, 10 am to 4 pm.

November 24 & 25, 2017 - Friends of the Brockville Library Show and Sale, Brockville, 10 am to 4 pm

Friday December 8, 2017 - Brockville General Volunteer Association Christmas Luncheon and Vendor Corridor, from 10 am to 3 pm at Brockville General Hospital.

To see more of my work, please go to - Lea Hamblett's Flickr page

Have a great 2017 and if you visit any of the above shows, please come and say hello.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Catch Up Time...

February 8, 2017.  A couple of years since my last post!! Amazing!  

Yes, things have changed here and first I would like to focus on my harps.  They have been going and coming since I last posted and now I have just four.  I still have and love my pedal harp, Anya and my lever harp, Fiona.  I did have a 33 string lever wire harp, but sadly was never able to play it because the strings just kept on breaking.  Then after re-stringing it can take a few weeks for them to hold pitch.  The last time I was tuning the harp, I witnessed a cascade failure - 15 strings broke, one after the other.  I could do nothing but stand and watch.  it was decision time - whether to sell or even more drastic, re-string with nylon and hope (lots of work).  We chose the latter option and are absolutely delighted with the result.  The harp has a deep resonance and beautiful tone, so it's going to be a keeper.  

But I was now without a wire strung harp and really wanted to learn to play one.  My husband found one online and we decided to go ahead and order The Venerable Cherry, as it's maker had named it.  The maker is James Skeen of in the Tennessee mountains.  Here is a link to a demo on my actual harp, with James playing.

James shipped it to us from Tennessee and so we had to wait for a week.  The funniest part was opening the box and seeing how he had packed it.  Very inventive!!  Our dog thought it was great fun.

The harp (a traditional Scottish Clarsach) has 26 strings and can sit in my lap to be played.  The strings are brass wire.  Now I will have to do a lot of practising, as it is a very different technique to my other harps.

Phil and I have just started putting together the musical pieces for our second CD and, again, a lot of practice required.  Nearly all the pieces will be new to us and so it will be harder than the first CD (Parallel Passage), which contained pieces we currently played.  We have been delighted with the response to Parallel Passage and people have been asking when the next one will be out.  I would guess the end of March.  Fingers tightly crossed.

The Artful Dragon Studio

For 2016 I had decided to try mixing resin and wood - The DragonWood Collection.  It was icky, sticky and very messy, but I liked the results.  I have also been working with polymer clay in different ways and it has certainly be a learning curve, but lots of fun.  Check out KaleidoScapes and some of the other collections at this link.

2017 will hopefully be another year of discovery.  Presently, I am trying to decide exactly what my new collections will consist of and so "watch this space".

Harp On!!