I sanded her first.
It’s an amazing thing, really. It didn’t bother me that I might “mess her up.” I didn’t care. It was worth the risk. I felt pretty confident that the after would be better than the before.
I own two guitars … but I don’t play often.
Years ago, I committed to playing 15 minutes a day.
After spending about six months playing these few minutes a day,
I realized that I should stop working at something that I want to do
….. but don’t do well …….
and spend my time focusing on what do well.
I put my guitar down … for the time being.
A few years ago, I loaned her to a friend who
lovingly played her
for enough time
that she became the best kind of worn.
As the Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit,
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly … except to people who don’t understand.”
Yes. My guitar became realer when she lay in the hands of my friend, Travis
who played her often and played her well.
I’ll forever treasure those shallow trenches love made.
This is one of my favorite little snippets that he put on Instagram … playing my girl.
After I sanded, I traced her shape on a pieced together piece of paper.
I hung up that blank, empty outline
right there in my office/art area
where I could see it daily …
pondering what patterns might fill that fresh, clean space.
My youngest – whom I shall now call Indie, rather than Joy, to honor the determined, independent spirit locked within that earthly body – teased me.
“Mom, You sanded down your guitar before you had any kind of idea what you would paint on it?” Why, yes. Yes, I did, thank you.
Sometimes, you have to courageously step out and create a beginning
before you have a vision of what the end will look like.
Then, one day it came.
The most pressing of the design came from a painting that I created a few years ago and remains one of my favorites because of the movement – and the subject.
Can you see it over behind the posable mannequin?
Leaves attached to undulating stems.
I taped and then painted off and on for an entire weekend
with my palette of autumn
leaving plenty of room for drying between layers.
The little bit of tissue paper glued into place just below the sound hole is one of the few pieces I have left from a package of tissue paper I bought at least a decade (or two?) ago.
To think that I lavishly used it in presents that I GAVE AWAY …. unsettles my heart today. I love that paper. I love the design, the words, the dribbles, the color, the flowers …. and there are only a few square inches left. *sigh* So, I decoupaged it right upon my guitar so that I might have at least a sliver to enjoy for many, many years to come.
This little shape is one of my favorites
so I built a stencil and used it to create many pieces
to decoupage onto the guitar.
When I finished my little stack of cut-paper leafed sticks,
I got teary.
Why they moved me, I don’t know.
But, they did and they do.
I think they’re stunning. #absolutlybeautiful
And there they will remain … glued into place
right beside Thomas Edison
who is quoted as saying
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.“
He is one of my heroes. He was a man who wasn’t afraid to fail …
and actually saw failure
as one step closer to success.
The design above right to the left of the sound hole
is one of my favorites. I used something similar to it on my painted boots, as well.
I really love it!
And on the neck, I added lyrics from the pen of Robert Lee Castleman
and sung by the haunting voice of Alison Krauss
while accompanied by Union Station
in the song Gravity.
These words resonate with my soul … like no other line I’ve ever read
from a book,
within a poem
or in a song.
They read from the sound hole of the guitar
up the neck
because that is the direction that the emotion of the music moves … up, out and beyond.
“All the answers that I started with ….
turned out questions in the end.”
I have a much nicer guitar, but this inexpensive China-made Gremlin has been my favorite. I bought it at a yard sale across the street from my house in Valdosta for $40 … about 18 years ago. I think it’s more comfortable to play than my other instrument and I love the mellow, rich sound. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if changing the finish by layering on paint, paper and glue would change how it sounded, but I was willing to take the risk. I’ve come to truly understand that all these things we collect and love … are just things. So … why not? The potential for the joy it would bring far outweighed the risk of messing it up!
After sanding, gluing and painting, I coated the top with four or five layers of satin polyurethane ….
and I love her.
After re-stringing came the big test; would she still sound yummy and rich?
Here, Indie plays just a little bit. Her sound is still the same; beautiful!
I am beyond pleased.