As it was coming together, I couldn’t help but test the piece before adding the finish. The sound of the old records coming from the walnut horn was exhilarating. The crackling sounds of the imperfections in records, the whirring sound of the motor spinning, and the belting sound coming from the piece gave a warm nostalgic feel. I found myself thinking about what life may have been like when this was the only way to listen to music if you couldn’t enjoy it live. I was giddy with excitement seeing the finished piece and was so excited to see the look on the client's face when she got to see it for the first time.

on reveling in the first sounds of the revived gramophone...

It took some time, but I was able to find walnut boards with intriguing figure. I wanted the base of the gramophone to have a sense of movement. I would use knots and other imperfections to represent a night sky for the inlays, crafting the mountains with straighter grain running perpendicular to the grain above them.

Reverse engineering the horn was the real challenge. I was able to take out a section of the brass horn to use to make an initial template. There were several hours toying with template shapes and jig making. Steam bending was something new to me, and there were plenty of pieces that made it into the scrap bin. Eventually, I started to get the process down. From how long the segments needed to be steamed, how the piece needed to be clamped into the forms, and how I needed to finish the segments to have a seamless fit when glued together. The segments are book-matched walnut, adding an additional layer of subtle detail. The brass pieces of the gramophone had a patina added to them to add to the subtle feel. I re-felted the turntable from worn-out green felt to new dark purple felt.

The client wanted an elegant piece of functional art. It was important for details of this piece to be subtle. She wanted inlays of the mountains that surround her home in Wyoming. We knew we wanted the piece to be beautiful at first glance, but as one got closer and continued to look, little details would emerge, drawing the eye to more unexpected details.

I started with a replica gramophone. I took some time to tinker with it to see what challenges awaited. The wind-up motor needed a deep cleaning. The old grease had the whole motor running slowly and inefficiently. A full day was devoted to taking the motor apart, degreasing, and refurbishing the gears and springs. Some replacement springs were found online. With the motor taken care of, I carefully took the box apart using it as a template and parts list. A crude set of plans was created for the box.

A Victrola Gramophone Reimagined as Functional Elegance

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