DragonFly Harp #15: Music!

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Blog entry by Donna Menke posted 09-09-2011 08:50 PM 3037 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Ebony Plugs Part 15 of DragonFly Harp series no next part

OK- I have given up the plan to get a good professional-looking video and I’m going to just put up something that shows how the new harp plays. We have had unbelievable problems with our computer programs and I cannot get anything to work as it has for the past 4 years. So her is an un-edited Greensleeves played on the 26 string harp I designed and just finished building. the sound is not as good as with the video camera since it was taken with just a 5MB still camera in video mode.
I used different features from many different harps to make a hybrid that was uniquely mine – and fulfilled my needs. The harp body, pillar and neck are made from walnut I had on hand, in addition to ebony used for the turned pivot where the knee-block meets the top of the box body. The dragonfly inlay has abalone shell wings and an ebony body, with real rubies for eyes. The dragonfly was inlayed into a piece of holly wood which was framed with pink ivory and then the whole assembly inlayed into the walnut of the neck.
If you would like to see how the harp was made please look at my blog: where I recorded the process step-by-step.
As for my playing, well I have been practicing on my own for 4 years now and this is the best I can do. I am a better harp builder than I am a player- but I enjoy both.
Donna Menke

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

15 comments so far

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 4109 days

#1 posted 09-09-2011 09:54 PM

Very nice! Thank you for this.

-- John from Hampstead

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4171 days

#2 posted 09-10-2011 12:24 AM

I am very impressed by this, Donna. It’s a beautiful instrument with a beautIful sound. Have always loved harps. Tremendous work, as both a harp maker and harp player!

-- jay,

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 4077 days

#3 posted 09-10-2011 01:18 AM

Nice job on the harp I would never atempt that at all. I’m vocally incline but not insturment inclined. I also have your book. I look at it quite often, it gives me ideas on some boxes that I have drawn up. How long did it take you to do the box? Great works of art in it. Thanks again for the wonderfull book.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Brett's profile


959 posts in 3772 days

#4 posted 09-10-2011 06:51 AM

Great job Donna! A harp!? Wow! I’m not sure that I would attempt a project of that scale. I went and checked out your blog on building it too. That was A LOT of work. You must be proud of what you accomplished, I know I would be.

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4308 days

#5 posted 09-10-2011 10:46 AM

Amazing work ! And the sound is fantastic.
Great artistic craftsmanship on this beautiful instrument : )


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5018 days

#6 posted 09-10-2011 11:50 AM

Great job on the harp and it sounds wonderful.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 5279 days

#7 posted 09-10-2011 05:21 PM

Thanks folks- I’m glad you liked the video.
Tim, the boxes in the book took varying times depending on their complexity. Remember too that these were mostly prototypes, and like this harp, the prototype always takes longer. I have made a few boxes since then and a simple box usually takes a couple of afternoons, and then a few minutes over time for the finish. Of course, I could make 3 boxes in about the same period of time- it is the set-up that is time consuming, and sanding.
You are welcome on the book- I am down to the last 50 copies and I’m feeling like seeing my kids off to college- sad and happy too. It has been fun to autograph and send off the 600 books I had here- and knowing that there are 16,000 more copies in print all over the world. It has been a fun ride.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3817 days

#8 posted 09-11-2011 03:30 AM

that is freekin beautiful… very awesome

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5413 days

#9 posted 09-11-2011 03:38 AM

Donna: A great job on the harp.

A nice challenge.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4208 days

#10 posted 09-11-2011 04:34 AM

Donna, it sounds great. Beautiful tone to it.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5173 days

#11 posted 09-11-2011 12:32 PM

ooh Donna!! This is so beautiful. The sound is hypnotizing – just so heavenly and to listen to it played, having followed its creation, knowing all that went into it, well, it brings tears to my eyes.
Thank you so much for sharing its journey with us!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 5279 days

#12 posted 09-11-2011 05:24 PM

Thank you to Ms DebbieP and the other Lumberjocks with such encouraging comments. Fact is that I’m kinda impressed that I can play the harp at all. I sing way off tune and cannot even whistle on key, but for some reason the harp ‘sings to me’ and I can do it- albeit after a kazillion hours of practice. I should be better- but I’m happy with what I’ve can do, and I’m enjoying the journey.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3817 days

#13 posted 03-18-2012 11:12 PM

just beautiful Donna. All aspects of it. just beautiful

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4304 days

#14 posted 03-19-2012 12:25 AM

I don’t know how I missed this – I’d been following the blog and waiting for the video. Some people can make instruments, and some people can play them, but few can do both.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 5279 days

#15 posted 03-19-2012 12:56 PM

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful encouragement.
Tim- in rereading your question I realize that you meant to ask how long it took to make the BOOK, not the box.
I started with the concept in 2000 after L. K. Ventura’s book came out. I was looking forward to learning a lot from her book, and I was disappointed that she covered just one type of box and finish. By 2001 I had a couple of projects, Yin Yang Box, and Nested Boxes (Earth Boxes in the book) that I felt could make good projects. Nested boxes was not an original idea, but it is such a good plan, and then I expanded on it in other Projects. (I used a lot of Tom Crabb’s ideas too- with his blessing- what a great guy.)
2002 I had the contract in hand- 2004 they had my manuscript- 2006 the book came out- 2007 it was available- reprint in 2009- 2010 went out of print- 2011 rights reverted to the author (me)- 2012 electronic copies made available.
I just finished scanning and saving as PDFs all the projects in the book and made them available for online purchase for $3 each. There are other combinations available too. Please take a look on my web site- just search for my name- and take a look to see if everything looks OK. I still need to double-check all the links, but it is usable now
Thanks for your continuing interest, Lumberjocks.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

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