Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ugly Stick Workshop - Salt Harbour Joys

I happened to just find this today ... February 25th, 2017 ... it has only been sitting in my 'DRAFTS' file, completely finished since August 2013. It's somewhat handy I found it now as I am planning on having an 'Ugly Stick' Workshop here on the farm in May.

For the sheer fun of it, this summer I held an ‘UGLY STICK’ making workshop
 at our place on Salt Harbour Island in Newfoundland

The Ugly Stick, for those who might think we were making fishing poles,
 is a homemade musical instrument that might be found
 at a traditional Newfoundlandish concert or kitchen party.

Here is the recipe.

1 stick … broomish-mopish style and height.

1 boot  … you only need one so you can share the brother or make another.

70-80 beer caps ... about 5 per nail ...
 this is where having a Bartender Daughter comes in handy.

Other noise stuff ... felt tins, washers, bells - the more the merrier.

2.5-3 inch nails ... a dozen or so.

1 - 18" or so piece of wood for the 'bow'

Tape ... black - red - any colour of smooth electrical type tape

Topper ... anything goes ... here's where the fun and creativity comes in.

Anything goes. 

Now the 'proper ting' to ensure the best noise
 (surely there is a more appropriately musical way to say that)
 is to remove the plastic seal from all the beer caps.

At home, Brian did that for me with his acetylene torch.
 Having neither Brian nor the torch, I had to be independent and creative.
How I did it is NOT recommended.
 I used my usual 'Trial & Error' method - emphasis on the Error.

I carefully arranged caps, seal side up, in a pie tin which I stuck 
very, VERY close under the broiler. 
 Plastic burns - that was the effect that I wanted.
 I didn't plan for or want the flames and black smoke.
  So don't do that.

If you don't have a torch or Brian and can't figure out
 a more intelligent way of getting those pesky seals out,
 just leave them in.
 I expect it's safe to assume that your audience won't have
a finely tuned ugly stick ear quite yet.

The TOP:
 This is where your personal style shines.

Some people are content with an old apple juice tin with the mop coming through the top, 
a marker mouth and glued on googly eyes.
 While perfectly acceptable, that certainly wouldn't cut it with our creative group.

Kim had this toque in Newfoundland and had no
idea that it was invented by two young fellas
in my backyard here - St. Marys.

A number of gals turned the mop itself into unique and cool dudes and dudettes.
 Some created things from scratch and some re-birthed garage sale finds.
 I turned a singing Christmas angel into a mermaid who is saying 
"Oooooh My!  I seem to have a pole up my butt."

Instructions:  Punch holes in your caps.

Thread them & your felt tins or other noise things on a nail or screw.

Drill a hole & insert the loaded nail.

Rasp or saw some teeth in your 'bow' so it is bumpy.  Add 5 nail/cap sets to it.

Screw your boot on the pole - through the bottom & at the top sides.

Stick your Ever-So-Cool Whatever on the top.

Put on some catchy, fun Newfoundland music. 
 We were blessed to have LIVE musician friends.

We were also blessed to have a Professional Ugly Stick Musician
 in our midst who gave us lessons.

And yet another added bonus was the arrival of a Mummer ..
another entertaining Newfoundland custom.

We were apparently SO impressive that we were invited to perform 
at the 'Split Peas' concert that week.
Well, maybe not all that impressive ... but we WERE invited!
 I would hesitate to say that it was the 'music' that we created
 that caused the enthusiastic response and abundance of camera flashes.
 It may have been more the fact that there were so MANY of us 
willing to look a little bit foolish in front of a crowd.

We were having great fun and that, my friends, 
is the entire point 
of the exercise and the anticipated result.