By Christopher J. Miller~
According to Meloddities Custom Musical Instruments owner Mark Clark, every one of his home-crafted instruments has a name and personality.
“They’re not inanimate objects to me,” Mark said of his collection of musical instruments. “I hear them, interact with them, and they’re nicer than some people I know!”
Mark’s passion for music started at the early age of 7, when he took up guitar after seeing The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.
As an adult, he decided to combine his passion for music and woodworking by building instruments. He hunts garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets, even occasionally dumpster-diving to discover treasure material.
Discarded items once consigned to the trash heap — cigar boxes, salad bowls, silverware boxes, old violin cases — Mark reimagines into six-string banjos, guitars, and electric lap steels.
“When I hear a voice in my head say, ‘That doesn’t belong in an instrument,’ I realize that the object is the perfect challenge for me,” he said.
While Mark is not limited in his methods for repurposing found objects, he has one key objective: The instrument must play and sound good. If it doesn’t sound right, he doesn’t sell it.
“I built a hurday-gurdy several years ago,” he said. “It’s a strange instrument but one of the coolest things I ever made.”
A hurdy-gurdy is a musical instrument with a rosined wheel played by turning a handle and pressing keys. Although it’s a beautiful piece of art, Mark was never satisfied with its playability and keeps it on display in his home.
Each of Mark’s creations has an original sound due to the characteristics of the repurposed container.
Mark often fields requests to make certain instruments, like a violin. But unless he plays the instrument, he won’t make the instrument.
“I can’t make what I don’t play,” he said.
Mark continues to work for T-Mobile in its communications and marketing department. But he knows his passion for woodworking will carry into retirement. He loves creating truly individual instruments.
“It’s unstructured play for me,” Mark said. “It’s just ironic that I seem to discover something with form, structure, and purpose.”
If you’re interested in seeing more of Mark’s work or purchasing an instrument, visit www.urbanartistmarket.com or www.meloddities.com. Visit Mark’s YouTube channel to watch him perform with his creations. His channel is found under MWC1053.