Recently I had the opportunity to pop out to abc Pianos in Montrose and meet the owner, Eddie Tichelar, who has donated a whole piano to the Kitty jewellery project! In due course we’ll be dismantling it to use the walnut panels, ivory keyboards and various strings, hammers and fitting to make decorative arts.
I had a lovely afternoon with Eddie, and discovered that repurposing dead pianos for jewellery isn’t the only use for the instruments he picks up.
Naturally, he restores and reconditions a lot of pianos – the ones that are salvagable at any rate. Others that can’t really be made servicable again get stripped for parts, like an old car! Ivory keys, brass fittings and especially the matching stools get used to match with pianos of the same vintage and wear to bring that back into shape.
But of course, many pianos have been left too long without tuning or care. With the strings not maintained at the correct tension, and the pianos sometimes stored where temperatures vary too greatly, the wood warps and the instrument becomes irretrievably out of tune. There’s nothing much to be done with the oldest and most out-of-tune pianos except toss them. Eddie only has so much room to store pianos for parts.
Some pianos get a second life as props. They might be emptied of metal frame, strings and all and sit on theatre or film sets, or in museums, looking the part without needing to be played.
Yet others can be made into something non-musical yet creative. Eddie’s own home features a few pianos that have been turned into display cases, and he tells me that FEral Arts Studio turns piano parts into art. He showed me pictures of piano frames used as headboards, garden beds and other decorative items as well.
When I asked Eddie if he had any ‘haunted piano’ stories, he laughed and took me to his store room. As we walked in, an ordinary piano (as opposed to the kind that have music rolls) began to play. There was a trick to it, which you can see here, but it was a wonderfully creepy moment.
So: if you have a piano that needs tuning; if you want to rent a piano so you can learn to play; if you want to talk to Eddie about parts and art or renting a dummy piano for a production, get in touch with abc Pianos in Montrose!
Interested in donating to or being part of the Kitty Jewellery Project? Visit the project page and stay tuned for details.