JULY NEWSLETTER, 2021
14 weeks to go!
We are proud to be able to present to you, at this year’s Gympie Rotary “Ancient Craft, Rare Trades” Expo, October 30 – 31, 2021, three outstanding artisans/ musicians/ luthiers who will join over 45 other makers of heritage trades and crafts, demonstrating all weekend in a village-like atmosphere – click here for details. In upcoming newsletters, I will be profiling a number of artisans, so stay tuned! (musical pun, sorry:))
Meet these diverse music makers – be prepared for a song or three, lively jam sessions or even duelling banjoes!
Our luthiers will come with their handmade, beautifully crafted guitars, ukeleles, harps and more – bespoke instruments, crafted from the best of timbers, from creative combinations of salvaged materials and innovative combinations of hemp composites, gourds and more. These characters are not to be missed!
Now, I’ve tried to be brief… and failed. They’ve all got such good stories to tell – so please read on, about:
– BRUCE WALKER SENSORY HARPMAKER, GUITAR MAKER
– ZIKO of HART’S HARPS BESPOKE INSTRUMENT MAKER
– STAN CEGLINSKI THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF THIS BIG-HEARTED BUSHMAN
+ DON’T MISS THE DETAILS ON STAN’S ONSITE POWER-PACKED AUSTRALIAN BUSHCRAFT SHOW
+ WATCH – OR JOIN IN! THE JAM SESSIONS AT STAN’S ONSITE STALL
+ STAN’S “HAVE-A-GO” BUSHCRAFT ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS!
Meet these talented luthiers:
BRUCE WALKER SENSORY HARPMAKER, GUITAR MAKER
Luthier/ woodworker Bruce Walker’s shed tells of his passion for all things woodwork – on benches, cluttered with random tools and covered with a blanket of sawdust, lay the components of what will become one of his exquisitely crafted pieces – a guitar, ukelele, or an intricately inlaid box, a carved keepsake. A larger-than-life half-chiselled horse head waits, while from the rafters dangle a forest of curved, turned and fluted legs, posts and planks, in various stages of refinement, all in the process of become showpieces.
A talented artisan, Bruce is renowned for his sensory harps, which have therapeutic benefits for people suffering with debilitating dementia. Research shows that sensory stimulation, the sensation of vibrations, the value of musical therapy help with psychological, and cognitive aspects of dementia, as well as improve the quality of life.
Bruce has crafted many sensory harps which have been donated to Aged Care Facilities.
Say g’day to Bruce onsite! He’ll be demonstrating all weekend.
ZIKO of HART’S HARPS BESPOKE INSTRUMENT MAKER
Ziko Hart, of Hart’s Harps, is a creator of bespoke hand-made specialist instruments, crafted from a combination of traditional and modern durable materials such as hemp composite. His unique designs are inspired by instruments both ancient and cutting edge, from all corners of the globe. He dreams of producing diverse and eclectic rhythms, reminiscent of other cultures, that step outside the conventional Western musical range. Passionate in researching traditional and vintage harps, Ziko is involved in their restoration.
Ziko and his display of instruments, including his latest creations – hemp bodied harps – can be seen his site at Gympie Rotary’s Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades Expo, October 30 -31, 2021 – in the Pavilion.
STAN CEGLINSKI THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF A BIG-HEARTED BUSHMAN
Stan Ceglinski is the image of the timber-getters of old, the early pioneers. A true-blue mountain of a man, he evokes memories of the romantic outback of Banjo Patterson, the battler outback of Henry Lawson. He is rough and unpolished – Stan Ceglinski is the real deal.
The early days
“I’ve always loved working with my hands, my heart – it’s always been part of me, a genetic memory I think – from a young age, my mind was filled with stories of the “old” ways in country Poland.”
He was raised a Polish farmboy in a suburban Newcastle home. Among his favourite memories are his mother’s stories of subsistence farming in Poland – she taught him not only how to grow his own food, but also how to weave, how to make a pair of shoes, how to make his own clothes. His father, a cobbler by trade, taught him how to work with his hands. “When the chookshed had to be built, or the fence repaired, Dad didn’t ring for any wood deliveries. He’d grab the axe and bow saw and go into the bush and fell some saplings to do the job” Stan reminisces “At six years old, I was a big lad. Dad reckoned I could help and, boy, I wanted to. I loved to be with him. Mate – I loved these days.”
Subsistence farming was in his blood. As a young man, his dream was to, one day, own his own farm. “I could smell it, see it, feel it. I said to my girlfriend, I love you heaps, but I’m going up the country to look for some land. If you want to come it’s okay by me – if not, I’ll see you one day! And she said – you find some land and we’ll see. Bloody Beauty! Mate, you don’t have to die to go to heaven! I was on a mission.”
So he hitchhiked north, with no plan except to find land and a farm and with a belief that “If you jump into the current, things happen and you start on a journey”. And he was right. As luck would have it, he got a lift with architect Ian McKay, who was to become one of Australia’s most exceptional and award-winning architects, designer and builder of the Beach hotel in Byron Bay, Strop’s house, Paul Hogan’s house and many other master works.
Ian offered him a job – digging drains, planting trees, starting a nursery at first. “I was his apprentice for a number of years, learning what passion in your work meant. I learnt so very much from him.”
The founding of the Billinudgel Woodworking Company
With his sweetheart by his side, and as his family began to grow, Stan decided it was time to start his own business. He left his work with Ian and started working for himself in 7 local forests as a private salvage logger. With his 1938 WWII Ford Army Blitz 4wd, fitted with 1200×20 floatation tires, a crane and a 200 hp winch, logs of up to 15 tons could be winched and logs up to 5 tons carried out of rugged terrain or paddocks. Work was plentiful, cutting house poles, splitting posts, hand hewing beams with broad axe and adze work. On the home front, Stan recalls “buying land, building a house and sheds and turning a property into an interesting farm with a blacksmith shop, car repair (actually repair anything shop), a woodworking shop, a shingle mill, bringing up 3 kids and trying to develop a business sure did stretch our income, but I learned to do what other business people do:
I learned to say Yes.
Can you supply me some posts? Yes
Can you sell me some bridge girders? Yes
Can you deliver me some firewood? Yes
Can you split me a shingle roof? Ah, ah …. yes!
So I found out who was the oldest, best shingle splitter around. I packed my wife and kids in the car and went 4 hours to visit legendary bushman Stan Barlow.”
Old Stan Barlow patiently taught Stan all he knew about the “hands on” side of the age-old craft of splitting shingles – the way to hold the tools, movements of arm & wrist, little things that made the job more productive and easier. “The rest was easy – just practice a lot!” says Stan.
He began producing shingles and shakes commercially. Word got around of the shingle quality that he was producing and work started flooding in. In the following years, with his sons in the business to help, the manufacturing of Australian shingles and shakes saw their name linked to hundreds of jobs Australia-wide and internationally – National Trust, Heritage, resorts, restorations and private commissions. “We learned a lot about old houses, new houses, resorts, timber “makeup” and structure and the beauty of our forests and trees” Stan comments. The company he founded, Billinudgel Wood Working Company, grew quickly, the family’s vast knowledge of Australian timbers and their experience with all aspects of timber harvesting, falling, snigging, transporting, processing in demand. “Forty-one years later, we are regarded as Australia’s premier hardwood shingle company” Stan says proudly.
The business that started off cutting firewood, posts, poles and girders swiftly moved on to designing and building bridges, barns and furniture, including works in the “African Water Hole” at Taronga Park Zoo, and restaurant refurbishment of the “Post and Rail Steak House” at Airlie Beach, North QLD.
Stan loves wood and sees it, not only as part of Australia’s heritage, but as a magnificent and vital part of our daily lives. “To become a true craftsman,” he says “a man must live in wood, listen to it, learn it, love it and understand it.”
Below: the early days
Stan’s musical history
Stan made his first musical instrument when he was 17. A friend showed him a homemade traditional Appalachian dulcimer – two days later, he had crafted a crude, but very playable dulcimer, made from some plywood off a wardrobe found at the dump, some machine heads off a wrecked guitar, some fretwire left over from his mate’s dulcimer and some beechwood. “A traditional dulcimer is played over the knee with a feather, but I wanted to play it like a guitar – the traditional one needs the sides steam bent but I used straight sides – much quicker – and inlays are very tedious and take forever, so I got some white paint and painted on some stripes. One day I electrified it and played the blues with a slide on it!
Below: that first Appalachian dulcimer
He made 6 more, each a little different – one based on a scavenged tambourine that sounded like a banjo, another a banjo made out of a tambourine and some wood thrown out from the ten pin bowling alley. In those early days, the finale was a 4 string tenor banjo using a shop bought tambourine and the timber and machine heads from a salvaged guitar wreck, also from the dump.
Resourceful, our Stan.
In 2013, the desire to design and create musical instruments resurfaced, but now he had a successful woodworking business and factory/workshop/studio and many years of woodworking experience under his belt. While he retained his love for making musical instruments from “found” or salvaged materials, he also began making serious – and magnificent – guitars.
“Walking into Stan’s Music Factory is like entering Aladdin’s cave and suddenly all wishes are granted… it is packed with all things timber. As a fellow lover of rare and beautiful woods, what caught my eye like a glorious rainbow was the wide varieties of timber used to craft his vast range of wondrous musical instruments. There are 3, 4 and 6 string masterpieces, some even utilizing vintage car hubcaps. This guy has a unique imagination! His instruments look great, but most importantly, they sound as good as they look.” John Carter Cash
“These days, me and Noelene are living on the Far North Coast of NSW, we can see and smell the ocean, apart from the travel to woodshows, I love cutting wood, which is what I do at my mill, cutting any tree into something (waste is a crime).
Weekends, I dream of fishing but it doesn’t happen as often as it should. One of my favorite pastimes is to relax on the front verandah and watch passing whales or boats (wonder where they’re going), or playing my favorite guitar. My most favorite pastime is sitting on the verandah with my “best friend in the world” Noelene, with a red wine nearby, listening to the sounds of life going by, the birds chirping and the smell of the bush and the ocean.
I could write hundreds of pages on my life, stories that’d make you laugh so much that you might cry – like when we got running water for the first time – but not for now, I might tell you when I see you.”
DON’T MISS STAN’S ONSITE AUSTRALIAN BUSHCRAFT SHOW!
GYMPIE ROTARY ANCIENT CRAFTS, RARE TRADES EXPO, OCTOBER 30 – 31, 2021
Consummate showman Stan Ceglinski’s power-packed shows inspire a love for age-old traditions of all types of bushcraft. An award-winning bushcrafter with a deep love and knowledge of the skills of yesteryear, he will take you on a sentimental journey into our heritage and our past, passing on a host of knowledge that our country must not lose…. traditions like shingle cutting, bark hut building, split post fencing, broad axeing and cross cut sawing and more.
Over the years, Stan’s shows have been wowing audiences at renowned timber and heritage events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – he says “In the beginning I was a little technical, a friend told me: bullshit a bit! We were a poor Polish family, couldn’t afford bullshit. You know, I searched for the great Aussie Bullshit for 2 years before I found it! It’s like a seasoning you apply to a story – like putting salt, pepper and butter on a steamed choko – makes it taste better! Well, bullshit colours up the story!”
Stan’s superb wood and bushcraft skills, a rollicking sense of humour, (plus, Stan adds, my good looks – if I don’t tell you who will?!) – and the bull****! – have combined to make a winning recipe. With the grandest sense of showmanship, his power-packed shows have been delighting audiences, of all ages, for many years.
And watch – or join in! – the jam session at Stan’s onsite stall
GYMPIE ROTARY ANCIENT CRAFTS, RARE TRADES EXPO, OCTOBER 30 – 31, 2021
Using just a lump of timber, a drill and an axe, Stan can quickly knock up anything from a 3-legged stool to an elaborate musical instrument… and then play it. With a love of traditional country blues, he’ll be playing “musical interludes” on his hand made guitars at his stall throughout the event, and havin’ a ball… and if anyone in the audience can play, he will encourage them to join in for a jam.
It’s a real show. But who’ll be minding the shop? “Well,” says Stan, “I’ll need a couple of check-out chicks…. not ones with push-up bras, but blokes over 70 who just love life.”
Stan will be exhibiting a selection of his guitars as well as finger boards and necks at Gympie Rotary’s Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades Expo. He’ll have beautifully crafted unique 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 stringed guitars on show, his hubcap and biscuit tin guitar and yes, that original appalachian dulcimer.
He will also have a huge selection of craft wood, various timber slabs and acoustic timbers on offer – as well as great advice, delivered with lots of good cheer, good music and a good belly laugh.
“You gotta love life”Stan Ceglinski
“HAVE-A-GO” BUSHCRAFT ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
GYMPIE ROTARY ANCIENT CRAFTS, RARE TRADES EXPO, OCTOBER 30 – 31, 2021
Stan will be bringing 3 shaving horses and sapling timber ready to offer children real hands-on “have-a-go” activities – so bring along your children to have a unique experience with Stan using the shaving horse, drawknife and a 100-year old cross cut saw! They’ll carve a pair of musical clapsticks from specially selected timber species to take home as a treasured memento of their time with Stan.
“I tell life stories, make it a bit of fun and have a bit of fun, but I’m really serious about fostering wood work in children.”
Date: throughout both days of the festival, Saturday October 30 and Sunday October 31, 2021
Age: 4yo and up
Where: See Stan at his stall, or on the arena, in the “Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades” Expo village site opposite the Pavilion, Gympie Showgrounds
Sponsored by Bendigo Bank
Links to previous newsletters:
Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades newsletters (2021):
June Update – www.quiltandcraft.org/update-june-2021/
Quilt Show newsletters (2021):
February Newsletter – www.quiltandcraft.org/newsletter-february-2021/
March Newlsetter – www.quiltandcraft.org/newsletter-march-2021/
April/May Newlsetter – www.quiltandcraft.org/newsletter-april-may-2021/
June/July Newlsetter – www.quiltandcraft.org/newsletter-june-july-2021/
Cheers till next time!