Above is a picture of the R'n'R Angel taken 1/19/2007 at the NAMM (North American Music Manufacturers) show, the biggest music equipment show in the country and the 2nd biggest in the world. It was an amazing piece and the center of the Minarik Guitars booth. What follows is how this inlay was made.
I normally do all my own artwork, but not this time. I have been working on a children's book (yes, I'm a writer too) with a wonderful, up and coming young artist named Alex Page. When I described this project to her in conversation, she wanted to take a shot at doing the artwork. I agreed to give it a try and boy am I glad I did. Alex absolutely nailed my concept for this piece. It's like she reached in my head and pulled out the picture in my imagination. Her sketch is below. With starting artwork like this, how could this project be anything but incredible.
The next step in the process is the vectorizing of the drawing. This is also the first step in making sure that the pieces can actually be cut and figuring out how they will fit. Here is a photo in the early stages.
Here is the completed vectorized drawing. The colors added here are only for reference purposes, so we can clearly tell where all the lines are.
Now we start playing with the material choice. Boy the computer comes in handy at this point. The computer allows us to try multiple color schemes without have to cut a single piece of shell. Below is what has been decided on after five different attempts.
On to the cutting of the pieces. Boy there sure was a lot of them, 141 pieces in all. The materials list includes; 10,000 year old Mamoth Ivory, Paua, Fresh Water Pearl, Silver Fantail, Red Abalone, Korean Awabi, Black Mother of Pearl, Jade, Onxy, Bloody Jasper, Leopard Stone, Yellow Cedar, Striped Ebony, and Brass. Currently, the pieces are lightly glued down to a piece of paper. This inlay is 16.5" wide and 11.5" tall.
Now is when all those 3rd grade puzzle building skills come in handy. Below is a picture of all the pieces laid out to start the glueing process.
Next we need to route a hole to fit all these pieces in. Some of the flying feathers were already glued. I didn't get my camera out in time. :-)
Now assembly begins. This is where all the piece are final fitted and/or adjusted if neccessary. No matter how much you plan, it always seems a few adjustments are needed.
It took 55 minutes to assemble all the pieces during the glueing phase. Good thing I used 60 epoxy or I would have had a mess on my hands. Yes, it was a lot of work, but check out the results.
Now the final touch, the headstocks. "R'n'R" on one and "Angel" on the other. The truss rod covers are made of one solid piece of White Mother of Pearl that has been three dimentionally carved, cut, etched, and inked to look like feathers. I like these. I have only done this type of tcover a few times, but I think I'm going to start doing a lot more because I love the way they turned out.
Now to ship it off to the finisher to be stained and finished. I can't wait to see the final product. This guitar will be displayed at the 2007 Winter NAMM show in California.
Here is a photo of the gutiar with my son (and apprentice) Alex Suttle.
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