Friday, February 28, 2014

My Guatemalan Harp

This post dates back to Jan-Feb 2014, but I'm only just getting around to it.

First I must give a little background: February 2013 when I went to San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, I was really missing my harp. As I walked around town that first evening, I could hear beautiful harp music coming from the courtyard of a restaurant. I followed my ears to find a man playing harp, accompanied by a guitar and a gut bucket (washtub bass). We had a chat, and I learned that he is John Kovac, an American harpist with an interesting website as well as many youtube contributions. He visits San Pedro for a few weeks each year, and was returning to the States within a few days of our meeting. He kindly offered to let me use his harp for the month I was there and to leave it with a fellow harpist. 

Now jump to January 2014: First day in San Pedro I heard John playing in the same courtyard, informally with a friend on guitar. I joined in with maracas, and thoroughly enjoyed the shared music. Afterwards, John showed me a lap harp which he had designed, but had instructed a local carpenter and his son to build. The harp is quite light and can be dismantled quite easily for travel. John's hope was to have orders for five harps for the men to build. I decided to order one.

Here is John discussing the plan with Dominic and Samuel, son and father.

Above is Dominic with my harp before painting. 

Next I took the harp to local artist recommended by John. He painted scenes of Lake Atitlan in the typical style with vibrant colours.

Meanwhile I was having a carry bag custom made by a man who specializes in sewing bags. His work is fabulous, and I really enjoyed going through the design process with him. He had the bag ready in a day, and it was even better than I had hoped. He put an inside pocket as I had asked, and did the zipper and straps perfectly.

Here he is with the bag:

And here I am with the harp folded down and packed for going as checked luggage on the plane.

The harp arrived safely home, and when I return from Peru I must mount the tuning pegs and string it!

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