28 February, 2010

Let the Banjar-makin' begin!

What have I gotten myself into?
our skins, ready to be cut out

Way back last summer, before I even arrived at the Folk School, I got to pick out my three "silver bullet" classes and send them in to Kate, our registrar, who at that point I didn't even know. What must she have thought of me, this mysterious soon-to-be-host who picked out glass beads, a sheep to shawl class, and make your own fretless mountain banjo from an honest to god freshly skinned groundhog hide?

I'm so lucky to be marrying a man who can play just about any instrument he chooses to pick up, and even luckier that one of his favorites to pick up is the banjo. My grandpa played banjo, loudly, crowing out "You Are My Sunshine" to the front porches of his upstate New York neighborhood. My step-Dad rocked the banjo all through college in a South Carolina bluegrass band, and now he drives long distances to meet back up with those same guys and have jam weekends. A banjo being played clawhammer style, especially on an old time tune in a minor key, has got to be one of my favorite sounds in the world. So of course I wanted to be in John Huron's banjo making class.

Kenny's wedding banjo: step 1

The class starts tonight, and so far we've picked out our wood blanks (I chose walnut with a cherry center ring) and learned how to skin a groundhog. The closeups are on Flickr here and here, but I wanted to keep the front page of the blog relatively guts-free, so click on over if you're fascinated (I am!).


Renee said...

Hi Jessica. I'm glad you chose to keep the main blog page "guts-free". I did go look and quickly looked away. Hopefully, I'll get to see the completed banjo when I'm back at the Folk school on March 28th for 2 weeks. My birthday present to me.


Nick said...

That's so cool. Where did you procure your groundhogs? Did you go through the whole process of removing the inner membrane and scraping the hair side? That would be a lot of work!

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr