Thursday, November 15, 2012

Making the Satyr: The Flute

Soon after making the Satyr (faun, by now that should be implied) vest I started wondering how to detail it. I've had some leather scraps for a long time so I grabbed those, then grabbed all of my jewelry-making stuff, in case I got any ideas. Nothing immediately came to mind so I then started wandering around the house. Then something jumped out at me and I thought "Perfect."

It sounds like a dying songbird

Almost all satyrs have a pan-flute (I think their name actually comes after the Satyr, Pan). I don't have a pan flute, and they're far more cumbersome than a normal flute, so I had decided on a flute from the start and just so happened to find it at a convenient time. It's a cheap one that I got at the fair more than five years ago for a dollar or two. It makes noise, but I'm not sure it could even be played successfully, you'll notice in the picture that the holes aren't even properly lined up. It will work well for what I plan though.

Source: [Here]
I looked at quite a few designs after that and eventually decided I liked this one the best. It's similar to what I myself have, and is simply enough that even I could do it so I started to give it a try.

I began with a regular ball-point pen and pocket knife. According to the artist of this flute they had used a wood burner. I know we have one, but I wouldn't trust hot metal to someone who sews armholes shut on vests.

So I instead used my pocket knife, carving out some shapes and then filling those in with the pen ink. It was overly difficult, and trying to get the pocket knife to make a nice curve was impossible, so it looked rough. Luckily, Satyrs and rough go well together, so I wasn't stressed about it. After a couple of derps I realized the pen can just draw on the surface of the flute itself. Much easier, since knives and I (anything sharper than water, actually) don't go well together.

The problem was that, like using the pen on the vest fabric, it kept drying out. It eventually reached a point where I'd make a tiny mark, have to get it going again on a piece of paper, make a tiny mark, etc. After a certain point I decided to get a new one from my dad's desk (see Dad? People really are stealing pens from you!) Instead of a pen, however, I found a Sharpie. Even better! It's extra fine point and was exactly what I needed. I did a quick test on a small piece of the flute and it worked beautifully.

I was originally going to do random shapes and symbols and stuff, but then eventually began doing vines and leaves. It would work well with the Satyr theme, and here's a little secret: if you have a really detailed pattern, people can't tell when you screw up. I'm a really crap artist, and I messed that thing up like crazy, but the beauty of the design is that you can't even tell. The individual mistake is lost in the pattern. Heck, I even went over some of the shapes and symbols and redid them into the vines and leaves, you can't even tell. Try to find the crummy crescent moon in there.

Hint: It's toward the red area.
You can't. It's thoroughly lost and the design looks great. When I was doing the carving I had glued the leather on because I wanted to find a shortcut to carving every last inch, after discovering the Sharpie method I slightly regret adding the leather. It's fine though, I still like how it turned out, and trying to remove the leather at this point would probably be a mistake (am I the only one that thinks it looks like a Harry Potter wand?)

A detail shot of the middle section

Something was missing though. It was a pretty intricate pattern, but that was exactly the problem, it was too intricate. From a distance it just looked like a mess. I needed something to help add pop and something that my family had done years ago sprang to mind. When we built a corner-style entertainment center for our television we had added some wood moulding that had vines and leaves on it. Before nailing it on we added some light wood stain and then colored in the leaves with green, it looked so amazing and pretty, and I wondered if I could pull that off with this flute.

I looked through our collection of Sharpies, but all we had were a bright green and a blue-green, neither of which I was interested in. However, we do have a dark green dry erase marker, and I wondered if that would work.

Dry erase isn't as lovely as it sounds. It's only dry erase on whiteboards and similar materials (we mark plastic caps for mason jars with them), and if you send something through the dishwasher that's been marked with dry erase, it becomes semi-permanent. Try a dry-erase in a piece of paper and see if that stuff is coming off (note: have something underneath the paper in case it soaks through, you don't want "Cats eat yarn" or something like that permanently drawn on your kitchen table) With that in mind I decided to try it out on the flute and it worked wonders.

Here is the finished piece.

I've got more in mind for it, maybe some wire-wrapping, or some charms on one end. What I most definitely have planned, though, is some kind of carrying device. Most pan flutes on Satyr costumes have them hanging from the person's neck, and I don't want that because it's awkward and cumbersome. I was thinking something like a long belt pouch to store it in, but found this instead.
Source: [Here]

What's great about this method is that it's less awkward than a long belt pouch, uses less leather (I have small scraps), can be decorated better, and doesn't hide the work I did on the flute itself. I'll be sure to post my results of the flute "Sheath" when I finish it.

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