This week I had the privilege of photographing a day in the life session at Stephen Boone Classical Guitars - a one man luthier shop housed in the Emerson Cultural Center for the Arts in Downtown Bozeman. Such a wonderful experience!
As usual with these Day in the Life of Work sessions, I learned so much!
Stephan himself is a kind, gentle man who has worked for a number of years to develop his craft. He's all about quality and getting things right. Lots of measuring, inspecting and fussing to make it as good as it can possibly be. Attention to detail is an absolute must for this talented man.
I was able to capture Stephen doing a lot of different activities, and will do a bigger post of all of them later this month. Today for Black and White Friday I'm focusing on his work with the inlay on the face of the guitar box.
When I arrived the inlay was already started. Stephen makes each of the little tiny tiles that are significantly smaller than the tip of his fingers. Intricate work for sure!
Before each section of the inlay can be installed, a grove needs to be precisely created with a router to hold it. Making sure to not get it too big means lots of cutting a tiny bit at a time and then seeing if the inlay fits in.
Once it is determined that the groove is the right size, then the inlay pieces (which like the tiles are all hand made by Stephen) need to be cut to a workable length and prepped to be glued into place.
It takes an incredible amount of patience and determination to get these exactly right. Stephen has several tricks he's developed to make it easier - like making loops of inside out masking tape to hold the several strips of inlay together as he works them into place. And he works them into place dry to be sure it is going to be exactly right before he ever brings the glue out to make it permanent.
The glue itself is . . . well fussy! Its the best option for so many reasons, but it has to be heated and kept at the right consistency. Stephen mixes it himself. This glue is made from gelatin - not toxic at all! It has some real advantages in how it works.
One of those advantages is that the overage cleans up off the guitar face without leaving a stain. This is a wonderful advantage when you are putting glue into a channel and then pressing something into that channel - you are going to get overage no matter what, so easy clean up is wonderful!
After this bit of inlay is installed it must dry for 24 - 48 hours before the next section of inlay can be installed. Hand making a guitar is not a quick process. Well over 100 hours of work goes into each of Stephen's guitars.
Thank you Stephen for allowing me to come and document some of what you do. What you do all day is beautiful!