Guitar Retrospective #2: “Black Floral”

My 2nd guitar project began, unusually, with a quilt! My mother is an amazing quilter, and her first quilt for me was also her first queen-sized quilt, so this was like, special. Though I trusted my Mom completely, I wanted to have a small say in how the quilt might look, at least color or print-wise. So after a mother-son shopping trip to the fabric store, we came up with a cool color scheme, based around a floral print with a black background. It had some greens, white, khaki, and pink accents in the flowers! Needless to say the quilt turned out AMAZING, I completely loved it, and for years hung it on the wall of my bedroom so it was always on display, it was perfect for me.

Ibanez RG470L

A year or two later, sometime in the fall/winter of 2004, I had an idea. I wanted to take another shot at refinishing a guitar, only this time, I wanted to do something completely unique. In my mind, it had never been done before. I had never seen it before at least. I soon came to find out that it had in fact been done before, and even found a rough tutorial of the basic steps on how to do what is known as a material finish. I asked my mom if she had any of that fabric left over from my quilt, which she did, obviously wondering what I was going to do with it. I told her I was going to put it on a guitar. “Whaaaat??? How are you going to do that??” I simply said, “glue” and headed home with my fabric. Working from that tutorial, I set to work on my second custom guitar finish. This time I decided to refinish a guitar I already had instead of doing another kit. I started with an Ibanez Rg470, left handed, in boooooringblack. 🙂

As with any new thing you try, you don’t really know if what you’re doing is correct. I was going through a fairly involved process with the attitude of “just do it and see how it turns out, don’t worry too much about it, do what makes the most sense right now, and you’ll learn a lot and improve on the next one.” I had an outline of the basic process to follow, but I ended up having a lot of questions regarding what kind of materials and tools to buy. (As I later came to find out, I hadn’t even scratched the surface yet in regards to proper finishing techniques.) I was almost clueless. But, I finished it with what little I knew. I think it took me probably 4-6 weeks or so, and what I ended up with was something definitely cooler than what I started with.

It had its flaws to be sure, but that was to be expected, and I was very pleased with it. Everyone I showed it to couldn’t believe it was fabric underneath, it looked like it had been painted. (Kinda the idea.) For awhile many thought I had a hidden talent of being some genius painter, and the reason I hadn’t produced any paintings of any kind up to this point was because I had simply not found my canvas of choice yet. Sadly that’s not the case.

The experience gained from attempting something like this has proven to be invaluable, as it lead me to new resources and knowledge that would shape the rest of my projects to come. And the difference in quality between this guitar and the next, was staggering.

I’ve contemplated re-doing this guitar over the years, as I still have some of the original fabric left, but I kinda like what it represents. It reminds me that you have to start somewhere, and there’s no shame in that. That nothing great ever starts out perfect (except for babies ;-)). It reminds me of the mistakes I made, the reason I use a certain product over another, and that the reason for doing something isn’t necessarily to create the most perfect thing. I did this to flex a creative muscle that was just beginning to grow. I did it because I had an idea come to me out of nowhere, and because it’s important to pursue your ideas and practice making them a reality. I did it to create a bond, between something my mother created and something completely different that I created using the same cloth, literally, which of course created a bond between mother and son. We now have a reason to continue fabric shopping together.

And for all those reasons, despite the poor paint job, despite the bumpy, orange-peeled finish, despite the fact that it’s yellowing because I used the wrong product  — this guitar is exactly perfect.

Guitar with matching quilt.

j.

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