Tuesday, January 10, 2012

three books for coast lovers and a harp for me to build

These three books all describe events on  East Coast  USA. I read them during our southern Winter, and each made good winter reading, if for different reasons.

The 'Coast of Summer' by Anthony Bailey is well known amongst readers of cruising stories and is a relaxed journal of daily life upon some of America's most famous waters. Written in 1994, the book often draws attention to the difficulties in sharing the coast with a sometimes inconsiderate crowd of boats, looking back wistfully to times when fewer people competed for a pretty passage between un-spoilt destinations. The reading is relaxed and calming, nevertheless.

'Small Craft Advisory' by Louis D Rubin Jr. (lent to me by 'Pablo') is a warm story of a man trying to find the boat that will suit him, in his attempt to spend simple time off Sth Carolina. He chooses one without a mast, but we can forgive him that when we undertake the journey with him.

'Caleb's Crossing' by Geraldine Brooks is a historical novel in which the dangerous sea is the dominant background character, but the story is of early settlement, and complex interaction of cultures and genders. Of the three books, this is the most revealing about human nature and early America. It is a very fine and thought-provoking read.

I have been asked to make a 36 string lever harp. This is the first commission for an unusual instrument that I've had since my blog began and I'm hoping therefore that the blog of the unfolding process will have special significance and meaning for the player concerned.

The commissioning family had the opportunity to buy a commercial harp at a much lower cost, but decided instead to be part of the creation of something specifically made with their needs and their story in mind. I will try to do adequate justice to this wonderful expansiveness and generosity of spirit.

So we've had some talks about size and design. She's found some pictures of examples that appeal to her. I've discussed with her some of the alternatives available to me, in construction method and timber choice. I've been in touch with a harp maker overseas with whom I share some interests and outlooks and his technical input will be very gratefully received. I'm still chewing over the timber choice thing. I'll spend a little while considering these things while I work away at the mountain of instrument repairs that clutter up the workshop at the moment. Most of these will be done (I hope) by the time the summer holidays are finished.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the book. Feel free to pass it on. I can't wait for the harp building to begin.