My 'Apprenticeship' Piano

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Project by justoneofme posted 04-09-2012 06:09 AM 2497 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks to Mathew’s request that I post some Marquetry projects, I spent some time browsing through a very old brag book of photos past … back in the days when digital cameras and downloading photos onto the computer to easily share with others through cyber-space did not exist. I realize I’m a ‘late bloomer’ in that field, so this all may have existed … I just wasn’t ready to explore. But now I have a better handle on it, and with the use of my (soon to be 92 year old) father’s wand scanner … all these old project photos have now been exposed to technological enhancement!

I actually hadn’t looked through this particular album for many years, and was caught gazing at creative tasks with a feeling of accomplishment as I wandered down memory lane. It was an ego booster! ... just when I felt myself floundering over the latest stage of my current project … the Intarsia Wedding Gift.

It’s been a very long time since enjoying the camaraderie of fellow woodworkers and Marquetarians through the pages of the Marquetry Society of America’s newsletters … and I’ve suddenly realized how wonderful it is again to have that connection through Lumberjocks!

We all know what it feels like to stumble along the path, I’m sure. Confident one moment, then not so the next. Most times the stumble is minimal, and momentum just carries us forward … but then there are other stumbles not so easy to conquer.

As I gazed upon the old photos of my ‘apprenticeship’ piano my thoughts stepped back to a extremely low point in my life, shortly after my oldest brother had suddenly died. I found I could no longer concentrate on woodworking. It was a stumbling block of major proportions, feeling I had not only lost my dear brother … but my creative edge as well.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a love of pianos. I certainly couldn’t play one well enough to entertain any thoughts of becoming a concert pianist! ... but the child I was, loved more the intricate workings of the action itself. I hadn’t given pianos a serious thought for a great many years, until for reasons still unclear, other than the fact my mind lingered in this bleak and unproductive state … I turned toward piano tuning and technology. Maybe it was time to change careers. And so began a year long nose-dive into that correspondence course. And then came my chosen piano to work with. The poor thing that had been stored for years in an old open shed. It was mine for the taking … but, pianos are heavy! It cost for transport to home base!!

Immediately … upon looking at this poor lost soul of a piano … I felt the tingle of woodworking desire creep in!! So much of it’s veneer had pealed away … I could re-veneer it! I could add a Marquetry design into veneered sections!! I could … and I did … and all I thought lost to me, returned in a rush.

These photos don’t adequately show the damage this poor piano suffered … but so much of me went into its restoration … stripping down to the soundboard for repairs to it and the pinblock, refinishing the harp, and replacing the strings. And while the innards were out … a total re-veneering took place, and the creative juices flowed!

Now … this may not look like a finished project … and as far as the piano is concerned, it remains my ‘apprentice’ piano, still needing new hammers and the refurbishing of various action parts. But the veneering and Marquetry is complete. The front panel does need to be replaced, but I’m glad I left that alone … because lately I’ve considered creating an Intarsia panel to fit into the framework!

This piano has sat within my workshop, under it’s protective cover all too long now, waiting patiently until I find the time to get back to the technology end of things. It’ll happen, when I’m ready to retire from the woodworking end of creativity. But every now and again, when I’ve had to hammer at something … my apprenticeship piano sings, and so do my heart-strings!

-- Elaine in Duncan

8 comments so far

View jeepturner's profile


946 posts in 3953 days

#1 posted 04-09-2012 11:30 AM

Thanks for the story and the photo’s. I too like pianos, but I can’t play. My daughter plays and fills the house with it’s wonderful music. I hope she never moves out!

-- Mel,

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4495 days

#2 posted 04-09-2012 11:40 AM

Hi Elaine. A good story that reminds us that the route our woodworking takes us has a few potholes in the road. The marquetry came out very nice on the piano.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Skylark53's profile


2865 posts in 4221 days

#3 posted 04-09-2012 12:17 PM

Thanks for sharing the story Elaine. Every project has a story and it seems each of us have “seasons” to live through, even growing as we are going. I’ve found a great deal of healing power in working with wood as well as music. Your marquetry is super! Completion of the piano will no doubt find its own season; until then, let it sing from time to time.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

#4 posted 04-09-2012 01:36 PM

Very beautiful marquetry,Elaine!!!


View shipwright's profile


8734 posts in 3959 days

#5 posted 04-09-2012 02:32 PM

Thanks for the story Elaine. I’ve seen the piano in your shop but never heard the whole story.
The marquetry is of course excellent.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View justoneofme's profile


859 posts in 3641 days

#6 posted 04-13-2012 09:11 PM

Sorry it’s taken so long to do so … but many thanks for tapping in and contributing such wonderfully supportive comments!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View rejo55's profile


190 posts in 3403 days

#7 posted 04-25-2012 10:12 AM

Elaine, first, I want to thank you, along with the rest of the jocks who replied to my urgent request for help in posting pics with captions.
Miss Honey Ma’am has had me with head down and you-know-what up for the last few days building a wall of bookcases and shelves in the living room, so I am just now getting the time to peruse your work. My God, what a talent you have! A master (mistress?) of marquetry, intarsia, painting, veneering, piano tuning and refurbishing, not to mention picking up an upright piano and laying it down on your workbench but, most of all, to me, is that you can write! You tell a story so clearly that I find myself as involved in reading the narrative as I do in looking at the actual project. A tremendous command of the English language, even though y’all do talk funny up there in that there furrin’ country. Please keep on keeping on and posting your work, because I do love it.

Nah, “mistress” is not the right word.

Have a good’un


-- rejo55, East Texas

View justoneofme's profile


859 posts in 3641 days

#8 posted 04-25-2012 10:01 PM

Hi Joe: Many thanks for your glowing complements on my art-works and writing. I did wonder if anyone really wanted to read all that ‘blathering’ that went along with the photos. Now that I know you are enjoying the story line … well! I’ll continue to ‘entertain’ you!!
Sounds like Miss Honey Ma’am knows how to keep ya busy … knowing, of course, that’s what keeps you happy, eh?! Yep … I guess we do talk just as funny as y’all down there sound to us’n at times!! I’m cracking the biggest grin on my puss right now … thanks again Joe!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

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