Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Finished Product

 (or, the Last Post I Make About the Pianos Already, I Promise)

The night before my pianos were due, I posted a picture on Facebook of what I thought then was the finished product. They were bound, glued, painted, and glazed; in a written reflection which was to accompany them, I predicted that I'd spent about 40 hours collectively on them. This was not counting drying/setting time or computer time (for laying out the inside pages). Looking back, this might be a little high, but for about two weeks I spent a few hours nearly every day on them, so I'm probably not far off.

The posted picture garnered over 40 comments, about half of which came within hours of posting and a couple which expressed interest in buying a piano. I was a little dumbfounded by this -- people actually wanted to pay money to have one of these? I'd been thinking a little about price anyway, as part of the assignment, and was thinking somewhere in the $25 range. This seemed low to me, but I couldn't imagine people would pay more than that for one -- being handmade, they weren't without flaws: small gaps between the covers and the piano body; the black keys cut to different sizes, etc. But Jake convinced me that, based on the amount of effort alone, I should price them higher than that (plus, he said, they were "really awesome," which I guess I mostly agreed with). So I offered them at $40. And my prospective buyers still wanted them.

The "finished" pianos

Now that purchasers were involved, I started looking at them a little more critically (despite my goal to finish them Wednesday night). As I was handling the books, I noticed that in one of them, the wire binding was... broken. I repaired it that night, replacing the wire with some thin elastic (which was really a much more suitable material) but didn't rebind the pages to the back book cover, figuring I could use the broken wire to hold the elastic in. I called it a night and went to sleep.

The next day I ended up rebinding the other two books, which had the same issue (you'd think I'd have known better than to use a slightly-discolored wire spool that had spent an unknown number of years in a box). I also rebound the first book yet again, taking apart the book cover so I could assemble it properly (attaching the elastic to the remaining wire still left too much stretchiness). Fortunately the end result was worth it, despite the fact that I had to re-cut, repaint and reglaze the spine. And while touching up one of the covers, I ended up dumping glaze on one of my favorite pairs of work pants (again, you'd think I'd have known better). At that point I quit while I was mostly ahead, only to realize that in my haste to get the glaze upright and on the table, I'd spilled a string of it onto one of the other pianos. SO, I had to sand it off and reglaze it after the presentation that night. I was really tired of them all by then.

At school, the pianos were very well-received. People seemed to really enjoy the fact that they could actually touch them and pick them up (I worked to purposely make them nice and sturdy). After the reception, the professor collected a copy to grade, and asked me if she could keep it afterward. I told her that I'd already sold two of them (the second one was claimed that afternoon) and was planning to keep the third; she said that she was willing to outbid another buyer if necessary. I was amazed that she wanted one that much. So I told her she could have the one I'd planned to keep; I could just make another. And with that I'd sold all three pianos. So, the above picture, taken before they were rebound with elastic, is the most recent shot I have of them. But I fully do plan to make another, plus an extra that's just a box without book pages inside.

I really enjoyed having a project like this to work on (though I probably wouldn't have done three of them at once if given the choice). Someone joked that I should make other instruments now; I told them I actually was considering trying a cello that opened up or something. I might still. I just need some more cardboard boxes... time to eat a crapload of cereal.


  1. I am very impressed. My talented granddaughter.

  2. I'm a very happy owner of one of the pianos. I love it!