Category Archives: Events

Bold plan to breathe new life into SW timber industry

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SW? As in south west Western Australia!

Just like the rest of Australia the logging of public native forests in south west Western Australia has been a battle ground for decades, with the forest industry now on its last legs needing continuous Government support.

The local forest conservation group the Western Australian Forest Alliance has come up with a plan to rebuild the forest industry and create jobs. The Plan is called Forests for Life.

http://forestsforlife.org.au/the-plan/

Normally I would be a bit sceptical of any industry plan developed by environmentalists, and from my reading the FFL plan certainly has some weaknesses.

What I do like though is that the broader community are getting behind the Plan, including the local Augusta/Margaret River Council.

http://www.amrshire.wa.gov.au/news/media-releases/1005/bold-plan-to-breathe-new-life-into-sw-timber-industry/

Here at last is the community taking the lead, showing initiative, adopting a positive attitude and working together.

This I like!!

The question now is will the forest industry and the WA State government get behind and support the Plan. The Western Australian Farmers Federation also needs to be brought on board to help give the Plan some economic credibility and community support.

I’ve already seen the potential for growing Tasmanian blackwood in SW Western Australia:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2015/11/11/blackwood-in-western-australia/

Imagine this happening here in Tasmania?

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Stringfest 2015 Review

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The Deloraine Stringfest is over for another year. Being a stallholder at Stringfest gives you a restricted view of the festival since so much happens at other venues around the town and in the main street.

The Community Hall where the luthiers, tonewood merchants and others such as myself hang out can seem a lonely place at times. That was my impression on Saturday, the main day of the Festival, with far fewer people than last year. A common comment was that there are too many other events on that weekend. The crowds picked up Sunday morning and I met a few interesting people, picked up some useful information and perhaps even some new blackwood growers.

I love the busking and the random spontaneous music making. I think that is also a special feature of Stringfest. It’s almost a BYO instrument event!

Clearly it will take Stringfest some years to get established and create a unique identity and following. It will take a big commitment and effort by the Deloraine community to make it a success. But it will be worth the effort!

Stringfest is a unique vision.

The focus on the musical performers is great, but Stringfest will never compete with the other established music festivals. The key to success for Stringfest I believe will be attracting a broader audience with the performers as well as the luthiers, tonewood merchants and tonewood growers.

In 2014 there were 4 tonewood merchants at Stringfest. None of those merchants returned this year, being replaced instead by 2 new tonewood merchants. I’m not sure how many tonewood merchants Tasmania can support but I suspect it is less than the current number if anyone is to have a hope of making a decent living from it.

But keeping tonewood merchants at Stringfest will be difficult. Whilst not many of us can afford a custom made guitar, at least the luthiers have merchandise that will sell, and it certainly attracts plenty of interest. Tonewood merchants however occupy a very restricted market, so Stringfest offers them little in the way of financial reward, unless we get to the point where bigger guitar companies start coming to Stringfest. While that’s not beyond the realms of possibility it is still a few years away.

So we need new ideas on how to make the non-performing side of Stringfest more useful and engaging for both the participants and the audience.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Field trips to a blackwood plantation;
  • Presentations on growing blackwood (and other tonewoods);
  • Tonewood merchants are both a) selling tonewood, and b) looking to buy logs from farmers/landowners. What are some things that tonewood merchants can do to attract both types of customers?
  • A tonewood auction.
  • A farm-grown log auction.
  • A log-sawing demonstration;
  • Luthier talks and demonstrations? Eg. the effect of tonewood on tone; how to refret a guitar; different soundboard bracing patterns; etc..
  • A restringing booth! Bring your guitar/instrument in for a health check and restring (byo or buy strings);
  • Craft-made guitar straps – these could be leather or other material;

I think the luthiers, merchants and growers themselves need to take ownership of their participation at Stringfest and be more creative.

How can we better link the performing and non-performing sides of Stringfest? Artists/luthiers on stage road testing a range of local guitars of different designs, sizes, shapes and tonewoods?

Finally my thanks and appreciation to the organisers and volunteers, and the Deloraine community, who make Stringfest happen. I think it is a fantastic idea and a great model.

I will be back again in 2016 to give the Festival my fullest support.

Plant a guitar!

Deloraine Stringfest is for farmers

Stringfest Logo

The 2015 Deloraine Stringfest will be on the 20-22 March.

The new Deloraine Stringfest website is now online.

http://www.stringfest.com.au/

This website will be updated as the program for the 2015 festival develops over the coming months. Check it out!

Stringfest is for sawmillers, foresters, luthiers, wood merchants, retailers, artists and people who just appreciate beauty, craft and music; and that’s a mighty big audience!

But I believe it will be Tasmanian farmers who eventually become the real heroes of the Deloraine Stringfest.

The men and women who make the 30+ year commitment and investment, who have the interest and passion, to plant and grow the trees that eventually become the tonewoods and the instruments.

Without these people Stringfest (and the tonewood/luthier industry) has an uncertain future.

Sell your existing trees

At this year’s Stringfest there were tonewood merchants displaying and selling their timber. But they were also buying! They were getting offers of trees and logs from quite a few people.

So if you have trees that you think may have value as tonewood come along to Stringfest and talk to the tonewood merchants. Even some planted exotic trees may be of value. For example the tonewood industry is looking for redwoods and any of the true (Atlas/Lebanon/Deodara) cedars. Good quality blackwood is always in demand.

Learn how to grow blackwood

Blackwood is Australia’s premier tonewood. Come to Stringfest and find out how to grow blackwood in plantation, or turn that patch of degraded remnant blackwood forest into something of real commercial value.

There is great potential for growing commercial blackwood in northern Tasmania. Help secure Stringfest’s future. Plant a tree (or 2)!

Come to Stringfest and find out more.

I’ll be there to answer questions about growing commercial blackwood.

There will be a portable sawmilling demonstration on how to identify/select a tonewood log, and the issues involved with sawing these logs into tonewood billets.

There will also be a ½ day field visit to a successful private blackwood plantation. Places for this field visit are limited so contact me soon to reserve you place.

See you at the 2015 Deloraine Stringfest!

Deloraine Stringfest 2015

Planning is underway to include a visit to a successful private blackwood plantation as part of the Deloraine Stringfest in March 2015. Transport will be by bus so places will be limited. Your chance to see and learn the art of growing commercial blackwood. Details to follow.

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