After relocating to Portland, Oregon, I found myself living in an old farmhouse that was in the first phase of becoming the main house of a small Eco-community of artists, healers, and teachers. I was thinking about learning wire wrap techniques, but jewelry making isn’t a cheap trade to get into. The house had dream catchers made of used bike parts hanging in the living room and while changing the strings on my guitar, I decided to try something a little more complicated than just the round cable I had done so many times before.
Using the E, A, and D strings (the thickest gauge strings), I made a ring about three inches in diameter and twisted the ends so it would hold. I then took the G, B, and high E strings and twisted a bent, chaotic pattern into the middle of the ring. Looking at it, I thought I might be able to make more, but I only changed my strings once every few weeks. Satisfied with what I had created, I hung it over the front steps of the house.
Just a few hours later, my friend returned from class and asked if I had made the guitar string dream catcher thing on the front porch. When I said yes, he told me with firm sincerity, “That’s it! Never mind wire wrap, make more of those!” How could I deny such encouragement? I played my guitar more often to justify changing the strings more frequently and in just a few weeks I made four more, each one vastly different from the previous.
I couldn’t afford to change my strings every few days, so I went in to the shop where I was purchasing my strings and asked what they do with the used strings they get from replacing strings for customers. I was told that just like the other shops they just toss strings in the dumpster. I asked them to put a box at their guitar tech’s work space for used strings and I’d be back. That was in late 2012 and in the two years following, we prevented over 100lbs of string waste from their trash.
Once I had an abundant source of strings, I was able to bring each piece further and explore the behavior of the strings more. Some pieces came together easily while others were more difficult or failures all together, but I kept experimenting, and I kept receiving (and believing) compliments and encouragement.