The 6-String Canvas

May 18, 2005

JAZZ PLAYERS, 1995
“My instructions here were simply to illustrate jazz musicians in a nightclub. What began in my sketches as a full club scene, complete with tables and patrons beside a stage, soon pulled further away from the club and closer to the musicians. That naturally led me to the harsh stage lighting, which creates strong highlights and deep shadows. There is very little engraving in this piece. The effect is achieved primarily with carefully assembled cut pieces. The sax is made from 73 pieces of dix gold. To hold them all in place—to hold every separate element of this inlay in place—I again used the technique described elsewhere in the book. I cut out the ebony background from a single piece, as if it was part of the art, and then cut into it numerous holes corresponding to the locations of all the shell and metal pieces. This continues to be one of my favorite inlays.”

WHITE TIGER, 1992
Ivory on ebony makes up the white tiger on this 12-string headstock.

A LA Erte, 1997
This image was inspired by 1920s-era artist/designer Erte. Laskin carefully chose the pastel pink and blue materials to faithfully recreate the artist’s signature style.

INDIAN MOTORCYCLE, 1997
This period-correct Indian motorcycle from the 1930s shows an incredible amount of detail, particularly in the spokes and headlamps. The chrome of the tuning machines fits in seamlessly.

THE YELLOW ROSE, 1994
While this yellow rose guitar was under construction, the customer cut off part of his thumb in an accident. Laskin added the thorn-pricked thumb and accompanying drop of blood to commemorate the accident. Each rose petal is a separate piece of gold mother-of-pearl.

REINHARDT AND GRAPPELLI, 2000
Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. Although based on two separate photos, the two fit together so well in this design from 2000 that you can almost hear the notes coming out of their instruments.

CELTIC, 1990
“The interwoven designs on this seven-string classical were all derived from The Book of Kells, the ornate illuminated manuscript dating from early ninth-century Ireland. This player’s repertoire was dominated by guitar arrangements of harp music composed by O’Carolan, the blind Irish harpist/composer, so he requested this particular design. I retain a most vivid memory from creating this inlay. As I was beginning to engrave the fingerboard, I commenced with one of the knots along the edges. Just to pencil out the correct interweaving of six different strands took 30 minutes. Half an hour’s work already and I hadn’t even picked up my graver. I swiveled my head and looked down the neck at the 83 other knots awaiting engraving. I felt a kind of vertigo. To calm myself I set the reasonable goal of engraving just two frets per day, and tried to focus only on those frets—and not look “down.” In the end, the fingerboard engraving took eight full days.”

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