Visiting Wolfs Robe in His Sedona Flute-Making Workshop

Crafting the Native American Flute

“Hey, I’m thinking of offering a DVD to the people who purchase my “Grandfather” flutes.  Can you help me?”

Wolf knows that I can’t say no to him, so I dutifully went over to Sedona one morning to make some images of him in his workshop.

Wolf fashions the "effigy" for a cedar "grandfather" Native American flute

I am surprised by the amount of work that goes in to the making of one of these. The flutes are measured, cut, halfed, bored, fit with a ‘block,’ glued, shaped, carved, drilled, sanded and finished.

As most every Native American flute player has learned and appreciated, the results of the flute-making process transcend the physical appearance and feel of the flute. Known by many names in the lore, including the ‘love flute’ and the ‘courting flute’ etc., the Native American flute is somehow able to communicate the players’ feelings in the moment — the spectrum of human feelings. In addition, they can bring the sounds reminiscent of nature to life. It is not uncommon to hear a skilled player mimic bird and animal calls.

An Old Trick

For decades, I have been trying to control what would cause my sisters to call me “Bad Billy.”  I don’t think that I have made much progress yet, although sometimes — just sometimes I feel that I may have. But it may only be just a feeling.

Wolf wanted to show one of the  final steps in the flute-making process: blowing off the saw dust after sanding and just prior to applying the clear coat.  He thought it would be neat to blow the dust toward the camera.  (Obviously Wolf is not accustomed to purchasing Canon “L-Series” lenses).  As he lined-up the flute with the lens and prepared to blow a dust cloud into the equipment, I turned the tables on him; I surreptitiously grabbed his compressed air hose and let him have it.

Wolfs Robe Falls for a Cheap Trick

As my late father used to instruct me: “The old jokes are the best … that’s why they are old!”


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