Disinfecting Your Wood Flute May 25, 2016 12:14
At the Tree Of Life Designs booth at events, as well as at flute circles, we always disinfect our flutes throughout the day. We use a solution that we developed specifically for this purpose. It worked so well and the feedback was so positive, that we decided to offer it to customers. We have available two different combinations of tea tree essential oil, and lavender essential oil in an almond oil carrier base, as well as tea tree essential oil, cedarwood atlas essential oil, and clary sage essential oil in an almond oil carrier base. These are less than 10% essential oil dilutions and have more than enough antimicrobial power to kill even the toughest microbes, as well as fungal growth. They also work wonderfully as skin healers, and we have bottles of these to use on cuts and scrapes as well. If one decides to use an antimicrobial natural essential oil such as tea tree or lavender (eucalyptus is another great antimicrobial e.o.), one MUST always dilute in a carrier oil, which include, but are not limited to almond, grapeseed, jojoba, olive, hemp, coconut, etc. We choose almond oil because it has a long shelf life compared to some oils, and also has the added bonus of being a wonderful wood conditioner. All essential oils are powerful medicine, and must ALWAYS be used diluted in a carrier oil, never straight or "neat"! Purchase our Flute Life Oil HERE http://treeoflifedesigns.com/collections/flute-care-products
To disinfect a flute, we will place a few drops on a soft cloth, wipe the mouth pieces with the oil solution, as well as wipe the flute down to eliminate germs from fingers. This is usually sufficient to clean and disinfect a flute. Occasionally, it is recommended not only to take off the block to air dry, especially at outdoor events where there is a bit of humidity, but one can also place a couple drops of antimicrobial flute oil into the sound chambers to prevent fungal build-up. Please do not use alcohol or mouthwash on your wooden flute! This can degrade the finish, as well as dry the wood out, and are simply terrible for your flute. Dawn and I will always recommend natural solutions, as these work as well as, if not better than, chemical solutions, especially on natural flute finishes such as the ones I use. Always check with the maker of your flute and do not hesitate to ask what your flute is finished and sealed with. Not all finishes, especially heavy acrylic finishes, are compatible.
Dawn Leith-Dougherty, Tree Of Life Designs
Music, A Tie That Binds December 06, 2015 20:37
Once again, another festival season is over and the holiday season is upon us. We always take this time to reflect on the past year, including the places and events we visited, as well as all of the amazing, wonderful, crazy, talented, quirky, fun, and colorful beings we meet along the way. At the heart of it all is music of some kind. This year, was especially successful, not just financially (although it helps!) but in regard to what we have created and accomplished. It's always fun to turn around and take a look back at the year, reflect on what has happened, as well as where we have room to grow and expand our knowledge and skills. There are always a few mistakes to teach us, as well as things we did just right...many lessons, much food for thought.
First and foremost, the thing we enjoy the absolute most about what we do are the many friends we meet. We are so blessed in that we can go places and meet not just new people, but folks we have met and "friended" online through social networking. It's so joyous to have someone walk up to you and go, "Hey, it's nice to meet you, I'm so-and-so from Facebook." It always ends up being a hug-fest and a nice exchange of high vibe loving energy. We know that many people aren't able to do this, and we make sure to give great gratitude that we can connect on a personal level with YOU! So if we are anywhere near your town, please stop by and introduce yourself, this means so much to us.
Because Ed is an instrument maker, is the reason we are able to go to these great festivals and meet these unique and uber talented people. We do sell other things, like my Apothecary items, however the music is the cornerstone of what we do, and is the reason Ed and I met in the first place. For me personally, music has been a part of my life since I can remember, and my Dad was a drummer (although not professionally). My adult life took a turn away from music and musical friends, until I met the Native American style flute. Long story short, the flute is why Ed and I both are where we are today. Never could either of us foreseen the downright awesome things we have been able to accomplish, and the caliber of utterly amazing people we have the good fortune to call friends. One of these friends, an accomplished musician, songwriter, storyteller, wearer of many hats and traveler of many roads, was the officiant at mine and Ed's wedding earlier this year. It was a simple and beautiful ceremony in nature, in the mountains of New Mexico, which wouldn't have happened if it weren't for...music!
Music is one of the ties that binds humanity together, and sound and frequency can also positively affect other sentient life on this Earth as well. Music, along with food, dancing, and storytelling around ancient campfires, festivals, or living rooms, is about as primal as you can get. It can elevate your vibration, and if you are in a group, ensure that everyone around you is also on the same frequency. If you have ever played/sang a song with others, or danced the same dance as others, you notice this by the almost telepathic way you communicate with those in your group. A song or story can ebb and flow effortlessly for this reason. It doesn't matter what kind of music is your favorite, or if you think you can play an instrument or sing, everyone can play something, even a rattle. That is why the instrument that Ed makes (along with other very talented folks), the Native American style flute, is so compelling to many of us. It is the simplest of instruments to learn, even for those with absolutely zero musical background, and no Western rules need apply (unless you attach them to it). This is one of the few musical instruments, including the drum, that one can simply play from the heart. With them, one can draw from an ancient language of sound and vibration that our ancestors knew and felt inherently, but sadly can be lost in this modern world, unless you make it a point to re-connect yourself to it.
Thank you for being our friends and keeping music alive in your hearts. It is one of the best ways to connect to the collective on a soul level and keep your vibration high, as well as raise the vibrations of those around you. Thank you for your support of Tree Of Life, we are grateful for all of you. Have the happiest of holidays and keep making the music!
Dawn Leith-Dougherty, Tree Of Life Designs
A Word On Finishes September 15, 2015 16:11
As I state in my bio on my 'About' page, nothing speaks to me like wood. It is true, I like wood! I like the look, the feel, and the smell of wood. Most of all I like wood to look like………………….wood!
Browsing the internet and wandering around festivals I see many examples of beautiful wood flutes that have ended up encrusted in plastic. Yes, a thick, shiny petroleum based coating now permanently encasing an otherwise natural product, wood. Some might still find them to be beautiful but they no longer look, feel or smell like the wood that they were made from. So, what alternatives are there?
I have long been a fan of oil finishes in my woodworking endeavors. I love the way a hand rubbed oil finish can bring out the beauty and grain, but not all oils are alike. Most oil finishes also contain some sort of lacquer along with a long list of hazardous chemicals and petroleum byproducts. Even the “contact safe” finishes contain multiple VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) with long names that often begin with poly... Just go to the company's websites and look at the MSDS (material safety data sheet) to read about the hazards. Most of the hazards are to the person using (applying) the product and to the environment. They are contact-safe IF properly applied AND thoroughly dried.
Several years ago I began to research safe alternatives to commercial petroleum based finishes and to find a product that was safer to use, but still gave me the results that I was looking for. I found a small company out of Santa Fe, New Mexico called BioShield Paint Company. Beside clay house paints, they also have a full line of natural oil finishes. I contacted them with a few questions and was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply from the company's owner. He recommended a few products to try and gave me a discount coupon to do so. After some trial and error and a short learning curve I have settled on a couple products to finish the majority of my flutes. They take a bit more work and patience to apply but they look great, have a pleasant smell, are easily renewable. Best of all, I am no longer exposing myself to quite the arsenal of hazardous agents. Here is a statement from the BioShield website:
~The first thing you'll notice about BioShield Penetrating Oils is what you won't notice. That harsh petroleum smell. That's because there isn't any.
Instead of potentially harmful chemicals, our penetrating oils are crafted from natural plant oils, plant derivatives, and other non-toxic ingredients.~
So, if you too appreciate wood, are interested in a wood flute that resembles the wood that it was made from rest assured that all Tree of Life Flutes are now finished in just such a manner. The wood will show it’s natural beauty with a finish that is protective, long lasting, easily renewed and SAFE.
Okay, now I am finished ;)
Ed "Greybeard" Dougherty, Tree Of Life Designs
Festival Time! May 18, 2015 14:19
Spring is ending, and summer is swiftly on the way. Not only does that mean cookouts, ballgames, vacations, and family fun, but it also means festival time! Somewhere near you there are local events, music and craft fairs, community cookouts, art exhibits, etc. happening usually on a weekly basis. Are you taking full advantage of these chances to step out of your comfort zone and get out and about? One doesn't need to incur travel expenses to take some time out of a busy life to immerse yourself in music, fun food, street fairs, and to soak up the sun and fresh air. There are many things in your local nearby towns and cities to do that are fairly inexpensive at the gate/door, and many of them are FREE!
Greybeard and I have been vendors at two local spring festivals already, and they are a lot of work, but also tons of fun in which to participate. Many of these events are completely different from one another, and it is a blast and a challenge to think differently about how our booth is presented at each and every one. We are blessed to be able to be at these events, and hope to find even more local venues to set up our booth and bask in some local flavor, listen to great music at times, and meet people from all walks of life. The two local events we just finished were a perfect example that there is something to offer for everyone. The first one was a fantasy-themed outdoor event, with fantastic costumes and fun music, which we do every year. The second was an indoor event with a holistic lifestyle theme, which will now be a regular part of our festival schedule. We also do a few flute and music themed events, and in these ones, the flutes and musical instruments are at the forefront of the theme of the booth. Greybeard and I genuinely enjoy each and every one of these, for different reasons, but many times for similar ones. At every event, the one common thread we see is the joy of the attendees that have driven there and gone out of their way to consciously participate in an exciting atmosphere of frolic and fun, even at the "serious" convention-type expos. Even at an event that we have to drive across many states to attend, these reach out to the local communities to support, and artists like us have a chance to show our wares to folks that we may never have been able to reach. We have met many new friends because of this, will continue to do so, and love it!
With economic concerns and belt-tightening happening with many families today, the "staycation" has great meaning. Gone are the days when families had the financial means to take a couple nice trips a year and even visit distant family members. Plane fare, hotel, food, fuel, and admission to events and theme parks have skyrocketed, and can be out of the reach of many of us at this point. There are now more and more local fun fairs to choose from with short driving distances, again, many of them at little or no cost at the door. A family could attend a fun local event every other week and not even come close to the expense of just one vacation. When one chooses to patronize an event close to home, the ties to community are strong, and genuinely create prosperity and abundance for local crafters and artists, friends, neighbors, and the communities themselves, instead of filling the already overflowing coffers of big corporate entities. I've just been to a fantastic local farm and craft market, and marveled at the sheer talent some of the local artisans, farmers, and crafters in my community have. Folks, these are the wares you can touch and hold, taste and smell, and just can't find at the mall! The buskers were out belting out homespun tunes and adding even more to the fun atmosphere and camaraderie. It's also fun to bump into people you know, and be able to see them in a new light, such as a coworker you now see in comfy clothes dancing to music and laughing with their families. Even if something seems to have little interest for you, take a chance and grab a friend and GO. I've personally been surprised numerous times at what a great time I have had at something that I felt apprehensive about attending, or felt I didn't have the time or energy but went anyway. You just never know until you go!
Share in the high vibration energy, bask in the glow of sheer fun, and help create prosperity for your community, hit up a local event soon. The rewards are endless, and the abundance will find its way right back to you. At the very least, you will have great memories and hopefully some new friends to cherish!
Dawn Leith-Dougherty, Tree Of Life Designs
Care and Feeding of your Native Style Flutes March 17, 2015 11:46
Flute care is one of those subjects that, for everyone that you ask, you may likely get a different opinion. As a rule, the primary source of information on the subject should be the original maker of the particular instrument. It is always valuable to ask and to know if there are any special considerations, do’s and don’ts, for their finish of choice and method of construction.
Speaking of finishes, be aware that there is not one universal finishing product or technique used in flute-making and will likely vary greatly from one maker to the next. Be advised that what may be beneficial to one type of finish may be harmful to another. For that reason I always find it valuable to know what products were applied to your flute. Secondly, considering that you are putting it directly to your mouth, I feel that you have every right to know. So again, ask the maker and consider him, or her, to be the primary source of care information.
Transporting and storage are important aspects of flute care. A simple bag from a soft, scratch free fabric can go a long way to keeping your flute safe from scratches and dings and can be considered your first line of defense. Many makers will provide bags with their flutes, have them available for purchase or, unless you are handy with a sewing machine, be able to direct you to someone that makes them. Beyond the bag I have seen flutes being transported in many creative ways ranging from 5 gallon Home Depot buckets to gun cases, rolling suitcases, padded instrument cases and so on. With a little bit of research you should be able to find something that suits your needs and gives you peace of mind to take your prized possessions out into the world.
If you have been playing the Native Flute for any time you surely have become aware of the dreaded condition known as “WET OUT”. Caused by the naturally occurring moisture in your breath condensing inside the flute and building up to the point that it “wets out” and impedes play. How quickly this occurs is impacted by several things includes the type of wood and construction, the weather condition and how “wet” a player that you are. The important thing to note is that with your breath there is moisture. Beyond getting in your way of making beautiful notes it can have some detrimental effects on your flute all of which can be easily avoided with basic care. There are several methods you can use to remove the moisture.
First you can BLOW the moisture out by putting the flute to your lips with the block facing down, opposite from the way you would play, and giving a hard blow. This may clear the moisture and allow you to continue play but will not remove it completely.
Second you can hold the flute firmly with the mouth end down and shake. I generally do not recommend this method as flutes have been known to slip from the hand and hit the floor with disastrous results.
Last, you can untie and remove the block, wipe off the flue and bottom of the bird with a soft and absorbent cloth and stand the flute upright (mouthpiece down) allowing the flute to dry out naturally. I realize that some folks, especially new players, are intimidated with the thought of removing the bird but the sooner that you get comfortable with the process, the better.
The unique construction of the Native Style Flute includes a “Slow Air Chamber (SAC),” that is dark and typically damp after playing. This creates an ideal environment for growth of bacteria or mold and can of particular issue if you live in a humid climate. Removing the bird regularly and allowing the chamber to dry thoroughly is your best defense from that happening. It is important to note that this moisture is naturally occurring condensation from your breath and is not saliva.
Should you find something growing inside your flute what should you do after being initially grossed out by your discovery? Again, here is where the type of finish needs to be considered and perhaps your flutemaker consulted. Alcohol, while a great disinfectant, is also a solvent and can degrade the finish and rob the wood of it’s natural oils. Filling the SAC with any liquid can cause a host of issues and should be avoided at all cost. I typically prefer and recommend natural methods to combat the problem.
Air and sunlight can go a long way to help with the problem. Beyond that some essential oils such as Tea Tree and Lavender are known for their antiseptic properties. For most applications these oil should be diluted in a carrier oil selected for its properties and resistance to rancidity. Almond or hemp Oil are both good choices and the 5-10% dilution of essential oils to carrier can be an effective germ killer for the external surfaces but, always do your homework before blending your own. A single drop of pure Tea Tree or Lavender essential oil in the area of growth can be used to effectively combat mold growth inside the SAC. I do not recommend oiling the bores of a wooden flute, bamboo is another subject. If you do choose to do so anyway go easy, use sparingly and remove any excess never leaving a buildup.
IMPORTANT: ALWAYS know what is contained in the product you choose prior to use and always read the labels and warnings. Be aware that some folks have sensitivities to certain oils, natural or otherwise. Pure essential oils can be effective in small amounts and typically not to be applied to the skin in full concentration. Most commercial cleaning and furniture care products contain chemicals and solvents so always read the label prior to use and avoid if possible. You may be surprised that an off the shelf product labeled “Orange Oil” may be comprised mostly of petroleum based solvents and only a small amount of natural oil. A flammability warning on the label is a dead giveaway.
The last area I will touch on is maintaining the exterior finish of your flute. This is another area where a little bit of proper care can go a long way. Remove your flutes from their bags and store in a safe area out of direct sunlight. Besides removing the bird and drying the SAC that we already discussed, always wipe off the mouthpiece with a soft cloth before putting them away. Carefully selected and properly applied, most finishes will last for many years although the contact areas and mouthpiece in particular may tend to show some wear and tear. Here is where a natural wax product can work wonders. Again, I advise to avoid commercial furniture care products and always know what goes into whatever product you choose apply to your flutes and therefore put to your lips.
I prefer to use organic beeswax with the addition of natural oils carefully chosen for their safety and benefits and blended to soft, paste-like consistency. Applied to the surface, the oils, depending on the finish, can be absorbed into the wood nourishing it and leaving a wax coating on the surface that can be buffed to a satin sheen. The wax preparation can be applied with a soft cloth but personally, I like to use my fingers and find that your body heat helps to soften, spread the wax and work it in. I also find it to be therapeutic. Use the polish sparingly working it into the surface paying particular attention to the mouthpiece and other contact points. Be careful not to leave any residue that can interfere with play and avoid applying anything to the flue and to the bottom of the block. While the above is suitable in most cases, again consult with your makers for compatibility with the finish on your flute.
To sum it all up, exercise preventative measures first, consult with your maker, educate yourself on the finish of your flutes and to the ingredients to any product that you choose to apply. With a small and thoughtful amount of care, your flutes will retain their beauty and playability for a lifetime of enjoyment and beyond.
Ed “Greybeard” Dougherty; Flutemaker at Tree of Life Designs.
Handcrafted From The Heart February 03, 2015 14:23
These days, most of us aren't used to holding things in our hands that are handmade, one of a kind, or locally-made. Small businesses in general, like ones in which our grandparents shopped, are fewer and struggle to survive. It has become ingrained in our minds that the places to patronize are the faceless malls or convenient big box store corporate giants, with companion stores and chain restaurants nearby. This is, of course, by design, since these companies have billions of dollars of buying power, cheap labor, warehouses, and clever marketing campaigns to sell to you, the consumer. There is a slow, but growing movement in the last few years to reverse this trend. We have all heard and seen the rallying cries of, "buy local, shop local, eat local" and for many good reasons. These range from helping our friends and neighbors live sustainably and pay the bills, all the way to health issues for us and the planet, human rights abuses by big business, and chemicals and poisons in unsustainable products.
When shopping (or even window shopping) for products that are sold by a local shop or actual craftspeople making a living with their hands and their hearts, one may ask themselves or the artist "How is the cost of this item determined?" "Why is this so expensive, can you give me a discount?" One may also state, "I can buy the same or similar thing cheaper at *insert big box store/website here*." Unfortunately, a frustrated answer to the latter statement by a small business owner or craftsperson such as ourselves may possibly be (and sometimes has been) in the form of another question such as "So why are you here then?" A better, but not always easier, answer would, of course, be "I'm happy to take some time and show you." Of course, many of us know by now that most handcrafted goods are special, unique, and can't possibly be replicated anywhere else.
As a consumer, you must understand what goes into the making of a handcrafted product. In this instance we will use the wooden flute as an example, but you can apply this to any item you wish, e.g. jewelry, food, body care products, etc. To start, the craftsperson needs to purchase a blank of wood. Depending upon the type of wood purchased and the size of the blank (which equates to size/key of flute), the price for this could have an extremely large range. Cedar, maple, and walnut, which can be domestic and fairly easy to obtain, can cost quite a bit less than exotic woods such as ebony or imbuya. A piece of curly or highly figured maple can cost a bit more than plain jane walnut. So here we have a few variables already. Next, comes adornments for the flute, such as stone inlays and alternate woods for blocks (birds, totems, etc.) and end caps. Once again, the prices are variable depending upon what is used, synthetic stone vs. natural stone, etc. Depending upon the maker, all of these items costs have to be at least doubled for the final retail price, sometimes more. Next, we have tools of the trade with which to make this wooden flute. A woodworker's tools can be very expensive, some accumulated over years. Which means much of the price of a sale goes right back into fixing or purchasing new tools, equipment, as well as materials. If an expensive lathe, for example, stops working or dies completely, the woodworker may have to go into some debt in order to obtain another one, simply to carry on the work he/she does.
Last, but certainly not least, the craftsman's valuable time and labor! For the small business brick and mortar store reseller, this equates to employee salary. This unfortunately is hard to calculate for many home-based craftspeople. I have seen many products that I have found to be too inexpensive, and chalked it up to the craftsperson not charging nearly enough (or even anything at all!) for their work involved. This is not acceptable, and undermines others' attempts at putting a genuine value on labor! Of course, there are also those who ridiculously overcharge for their similar items, for no apparent reason. Herein lies one point of this blog, to highlight one of the least understood reasons for the cost of a handmade item. Time, expertise, and years of experience, skills, and knowledge cannot be underestimated. One simply HAS to charge for their time and labor, much like they would if they hired a skilled employee to help them make these products. The craftsperson IS the employee, and is remiss if not taking the hours and days worth of work into account that is involved in a labor-intensive product such as a wooden flute.
Instruments such as the wooden/bamboo flute aren't simply sticks with holes in them. Many of us have heard this comparison and/or the comment "That's easy, I can make that." Sure, you can! But will it play? Are you a woodworker? An artisan? A musician? What do you think it will look/sound like? Some flutes on the market are simply that - "sticks with holes" or souvenirs. Most, however, are so much more than this, to which working musicians and performers can attest. A great flutemaker has not only woodworking skills and genuine talent, which many times cannot be taught but is inherent, but ALSO has an ear for music! I've seen (and owned!) more than my share of pretty wall hanging "flutes" that are out of tune and cannot play a decent note if their wooden lives depended upon it. Folks, these skills can and should be measured in the price tag of a genuinely great looking, and perfectly tuned flute. There are also many great flutemakers out there that make flutes that are tuned to themselves, "grandfather tuning" as some call it. This also takes genuine skill and is a true art form in and of itself, and the flutes are meant to be played in a natural way from the heart, without most Western style instruments. Again, an inherent gift and understanding of sound and music makes all the difference between a decoration or a genuine musical instrument.
As a consumer, asking questions of a craftsperson about a product you are thinking about plunking your hard-earned money down on is definitely important, and usually welcomed by them. Most of us love to talk about ourselves, what we do, and how we do it. When you do, however, be mindful of price comparisons to factory-made goods made in other countries by slave labor, as well as comparisons to their peers. Everyone has their own style, tools, and time invested, and comparing their products to another's can put the artist in defensive mode, and can be insulting. In conclusion, when you purchase any product anywhere, it may be worth taking a moment to understand who made it, where it came from, who is benefitting from the purchase (faceless corporate or the actual artist) and why it has the price tag it does. An artist, craftsperson, or musician deserves to be compensated for not just the materials and time involved in making their art. Blood, sweat, tears, energy, talent, and HEART that is placed into their wares deserves not only compensation, but honor and respect.
Dawn, Tree Of Life Designs
Blessings for the Holiday Season! November 19, 2014 20:23
At this time of rest, relaxation, and holiday merriment, Tree Of Life Designs would like to wish you a very Happy Holidays, Blessed Yule, and Merry Christmas! As we reflect on the passing of yet another year and the slow turning of the wheel, we have come back around again to find ourselves facing a shiny new beginning with the return of the sun at Winter Solstice, as well as a BRAND NEW WEBSITE! A successful festival season has wound down and left us with warm and fuzzy memories of great music, new friends made, old friends celebrated, and gratitude for a life well-lived, but not without leaving us with the realization that we desperately needed a new landing page with a shopping cart, so here it is! Bear with us in the process of designing and a wee bit of tweaking, so that you may find our site easy to navigate and shop with us. We do hope you like the new US!
Cheers and HUZZAH to a new website, a new season, a new year, and a brand spanking new beginning for us all! Thank you for visiting, come back again very soon. Happy New Year and may all be kind and filled with gratitude for the many blessings large and small that give us a reason to smile each and every day. From the rolling hills of our slice of North Carolina, Ed "Greybeard" Dougherty, and Dawn Leith