As a musician, I often think about and engage in improvisation. Most folks think improvising is just “making it up as you go,” but in reality, it takes years of practice and dedication to spontaneously compose, which is what improvisation really is. In the wood shop, I often make decisions about wood layout and selection quickly, with my instinct leading the way and with little thought to it (improvising). But, behind it is the sense memory of watching Char at Mya-Moe carefully layout 2500 ukuleles. I also have the benefit of working with many kinds of wood with hand and power tools and hearing how different woods sound as a pro musician on stage. Hopefully these meaningful experiences are subtly guiding my hand and eye as I make the important decisions of laying out the wood for an ukulele. In this case, I crawled up the ladder to show Marianne this spalted top on a whim. She said she loved it and I immediately thought of this mahogany board to pair it with. I didn’t over think it, I just embraced the instinct and went about the task of putting it all together.
The spalted Port Orford Cedar and the pistachio are from woodfromthewest.com. The gray streaks in the top are a fungus that kicks off after harvest as the wood dries out. As long as it is stopped in time, it adds to the visual character without damaging the strength of the wood structure. The amazing figured mahogany back and sides are from the Carpenter Ant stash in Portland and include old pin prick beetle holes. The mahogany neck wood is a cutoff salvaged from a local furniture maker.