The Birth of a Flute
During late fall, when the sapstream is low, I go out to search and hand-harvest the right wood; mostly small trunks of inland bushes and trees such as Elder, Hazel, Dogwood, Ash, Robinia and many others.
After I have collected small piles of wood I take them on my shoulder and carry them out, ready for the many years of curing.
The Curing Process
The wood is prepared for the curing process, treated with woodglue at the butt ends to reduce the curing speed, and sometimes pre-drilled.
Like this they are stored for many years, and turned once in a while.
After this long period of sleep the bark is taken off and the wood is left to rest again.
The cured wood is drilled with hand tools. The hand-forged drill follows the natural curves and original shape of each piece of wood, leaving a one-of-a-kind imprint and bore shape, making each instrument a unique piece with a personal character.
The drilled piece is treated and worked inside, respecting this 'imprint', and afterwards I test it for sound by tapping the end of the bore with my hand. This way I can determine if the wood and bore shape has the right overtones and necessary acoustic aspects, and if it's voice is 'alive'.
If the sound does not convince me, has flaws or is dull, the piece is not used. This is the first criteria for making only concert-quality flutes.
Rough Shaping, First Sounds
The piece is roughly shaped, and the first sound is cut.
The wood that was at first a branch or trunk, comes 'alive'; always a thrilling moment.
Voicing and Tuning
The holes are measured out. As the wood is always uniquely shaped, there is a real quest for good tuning, over and over again.
Things can still go wrong at this point. Once the holes are set, the tuning and voicing stage can begin. This is where experience and years of ongoing experimentation come in handy. This is the point where it all happens: shaping and creating, finding a unique body of sound, a personality. A demanding journey; intense, obsessive, and occasionally frustrating, but above all joyful and a privilege to witness this beautifull 'birth'.
Finishing and Oiling
The flutes are finished with natural products only, using a alcohol-based shellac resin polish, and applying many layers by hand. Sometimes this is a transparent natural finish, sometimes over a water-based stain. I enjoy a simple wax and oil finish as well. After the flutes have had a protecting oil bath I put them together and do some fine-tuning and adjusting, a very important and time consuming part of the process. I can lose myself in details for hours... everything has to be just 'right'.