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Looking For Someone With Amazing Computer Skills

June 14, 2024
Good Morning, Y'all - Happy Friday!
I'll start out with "You missed a lot of fun last weekend!" Now you're wondering, right? Well here goes... 

First Second Saturday Clinic Report
We (Folkcraft) hosted our first Second Saturday Clinic of 2024 last Saturday. One of our endorsing artists, Mandy Tyner, was the featured instructor. We started with a 2-hour jam, then had a 4-hour clinic (with a sandwiches-for-lunch break), then a short concert with Mandy (and her husband/roadie Jon accompanying her on guitar). 
And while this video isn't (even remotely!) production quality, you might enjoy hearing Mandy and Jon in the Second Saturday Clinic concert. (Dad was in the front row, and captured the moment for us.)

It was great fun, we had a large contingent of "newer" players, and even the sandwiches were good. Folkcraft has hosted hundreds of events over the decades, from large multi-day festivals, to one-day clinics, to evening concerts with itinerant artists.
Looking back at our roster of artist/instructors? Wow. David Schnaufer 20 years ago, Mandy Tyner last weekend. And a slew of the world's best in the years in between. I'm lucky that I get to spend time with such luminaries in the dulcimer community.  (David Schnaufer was before my time with dulcimer, but he's part of Folkcraft's history!)

Upcoming Second Saturday Clinics
Before I forget, next month's clinic features Bing Futch (July 13, 2024), and the month after that we're hosting Dave Haas (August 10, 2024). As I'm writing this newsletter segment, we have three open seats left for Bing's clinic. Dave's still has about a dozen open registrations. But I expect both of these clinics will reach our maximum class size of 30 guests very soon.
Folkcraft Is Looking For Someone With Amazing Computer Skills
And with everything we have going on, I'm on the prowl for a (remote) person with some amazing computer skills. The ideal applicant will be competent with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, specifically InDesign and Acrobat. There will undoubtedly be some Photoshop and Illustrator work, but this is mostly for formatting of music books for publication. It would help a LOT if the applicant was experiened with KDP and Draft2Digital. Reading music/playing dulcimer would be nice, but this isn't a music job, and dulcimer-specific experience is really a bonus, not even remotely a requirement. I'm sure the right person is out there, and maybe you can help me find that person? (This would likely be for a handful of hours per week, for a period of several months, then ad hoc after that.)

And with that all said, our "on sale" book this week is Shelley Stevens' "World Music." This is Volume 6 of her Baker's Dozen series, and features songs from all over the world, arranged for solo mountain dulcimer. On sale for $3.99, marked down from the usual $12.00. You'll like this one!
So what have we been working on in the shop? Casey is working on (you can't be surprised, can you?) making DulciVoxes. Mandy got hers last week, Bing gets his this afternoon (Tuesday, 6/12/24). And some of you will be getting yours next week. We have a handful of them ready to ship, or very nearly. We've made a baritone version (which sounds awesome), and we're working on a bass version. I'll do a demonstration/comparison video of the standard/baritone/bass at some point in the next week or two.

In the photo above, we're clamping a bridge to a top, as the glue sets. Getting a bridge positioned is tricky, and vitally important to an instrument's intonation. The next step for this DulciVox is to get the top glued to the body.

Cheyenne's been working on replenishing our supply of dulcimer kits. We've had nine varieties of kits for a long time, and Cheyenne's been adding to our inventory of walnut, cherry, and cardboard kits. But we have a new one in the works - a walnut CHROMATIC dulcimer kit. 25" VSL, walnut body, with an hourglass shape. Here's a link to the new chromatic dulcimer kit - we can take orders now, but it'll be about a week before they can ship.

Kits, parts being gathered and put in boxes for shipping.

Pam's been making up a lot of string sets. Three string sets, four string sets. Ball end sets, loop end sets. Baritone, bass, six-string. Dozens of varieties, and she has to coil the strings, put them in paper envelopes, label the envelopes, then put the various types of paper envelopes into sets. And then put the sets into our inventory. It is vitally important to have this done correctly, so Pam gets the job.

And sewing, of course. Our cases take a lot of her time, but this week has been full of strap making. Here's a bin of 1" and 2" leather ends, sewn to the YKK quick-release buckles we buy:

These strap ends start out as full-size leather hides. We have a tool to cut out the strap end shape (Cheyenne's job!), then I add the Folkcraft logo using our laser engraver, and then Pam folds and sews the leather. Just like dulcimer-making, there are a lot of steps to making a strap.
Dad's been making nuts and bridges. Actually, nut and bridge blanks, that we'll fit and adjust for each instrument as we're completing a setup. Our nut and bridge blanks are made of Micarta, which is a very, very hard synthetic material. Multiple layers of linen, fused with plastic, under high heat and pressure. We buy 4' x 8' sheets of this (that's a lot of bridges!!!) and cut it down to smaller pieces. Then use our router to make even smaller pieces. Then hand sand each piece until the fit is perfect.

Here's a small sheet of 24 bridges:

And here's what it looks like after we've done all of the fitting and sanding:

I'm sure there's a faster way to do this, but the accuracy Dad gets with this process is great, so we'll stick with this method for now!

I've been working on making tops for dulcimers this week. We have a slew of custom sound holes "in the works" for customer instruments, and creating the artwork is one of my responsibilities. 

A scrap piece of cherry with our vine/daisy sound hole.
After using software to experiment with a new sound hole design, I'll use our laser engraver to cut the sound hole into a scrap piece of wood, and then test the appearance and location with a fretboard and cardboard template that shows the outline of a dulcimer). Once I'm happy with a new design, it will be saved for future use.

We have a slew (that's a technical luthier word) of existing sound hole options, and can do original work as requested. I hire a graphic designer for anything complicated - my Adobe Illustrator skills are rudimentary when compared to a professional artist's - so a complex design is a significant upcharge. But worthwhile if you have something very specific in mind for your next dulcimer!

Wow, we've been busy! Thanks to all of my staff for being so amazing, and thanks to YOU for reading this newsletter. I hope this gave you some insight into what we do for you each week, and will appreciate all the little details that go into the things we make.

Richard Ash, luthier-with-too-many-details-on-his-brain-some-days