Rich Halliburton's Querencia Flutes

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Location: Hermosa Beach, California, United States

After building flutes for a number of years now, I sneeze sawdust, and it scares my cat. That being said, it is however an absolute drop dead, no joke passion for me. When I'm not eating sawdust, I'm searching the entire planet for the most beautiful, exotic/bizarre woods, and gemstones I can find. I plow every dime back into purchasing these items, in addition to a few margarita supplies....... I don't follow, or pretend to understand a lot of the cardinal rules of flutemaking, and the end product seems to indicate I'm better off for it. PLUS, I continue to make great friends on a daily basis, most of whom possess humbling talent. ...Ya won't find that working at a carwash, even if it does pay better.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"The flute calms the spirit and penetrates the ear with such sweet sound that it brings peace and an abeyance of motion unto the soul. And should some sorrow dwell in the mind, a care that wine cannot make us forget and banish, it lulls us to sleep and is balm on account of its sweet and gracious sound, provided that it adheres to modest music and does not excite and inflame the soul with too many notes and passages, which would weaken it and could easily come to grief on account of the wine."

--Meylan, in The Flute, p.11

Well…………..It’s that time of year again….Time to pass along some holiday cheer, if there’s any to be found. I realize the domestic economy has tanked, and has become a sea anchor for the global economy as well. Internationally, we’re engaged in drug wars, wars of pacification, wars of democratization, and wars I suspect are just to try out new toys. I also realize the top five products currently available to U.S. consumers, at bargain prices, are Portland cement, shoe polish, corn tortillas, paper cocktail umbrellas, and my flutes. I think I read that in Forbes.

Now I don’t expect you to pass up the great deals out there on Portland cement, but I will again be lowering the price of my flutes for the month of December. Typically I lower the prices by 10%, but this year will be a little different. I’ll be figuring the cost of materials for each flute, as well as an hourly wage typical of a car wash employee…like the old days. Some flutes will go down in price significantly, some, not so significantly, and some … not at all.

I suspect this holiday shopping season will be completely avoided by most consumers. Everybody is broke, and I understand that. However, if you DO find yourself caught up in the Christmas season, torn between purchasing one of my flutes, or a live pony and little cowpoke outfit for your child, please keep in mind, you don’t have to feed a flute, and you’ll never need a shovel.

The domestic economic downturn has created an interesting set of circumstances for what, 6 months ago, was a marginally thriving middle class. Specifically, food banks across the nation are operating at the lowest inventory levels in their history. With unemployment approaching double digits, as well as nest eggs, investment portfolios, and emergency funds simply vanishing over a period of about 10 weeks, our middle class has been forced to utilize food banks themselves…at unprecedented levels. The food banks are starting to run on empty.

Now I haven’t had an original thought since I was about 6 years old, and today is no exception. However, my wife mentioned a plan that I find to have serious merit. During this season of giving, particularly for colleagues and extended family members, rather than give a fruitcake, or cellophane covered wicker basket full of cheese and soap that you can’t tell apart, make a donation to your local food bank, on behalf of one another. Specifically, make a cash donation for one another, because the food bank people can buy food at lower cost than we can. Everybody wins. Plus, you don’t find yourself in the shower, lathering up with a bar of cheese. Additionally, here at Rancho Relaxo, and the world headquarters of Querencia Woodwinds, for the sake of energy conservation, I will probably tone down the seasonal exterior lighting, and forgo the opportunity to make my home look like a Third World liquor store. I’m hoping I can resume that activity again next year.

In closing, I’m reminded of the phrase “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men,” or all, or something. I don’t know if it came from the Bible, Santa Claus, or Hallmark. In any event, it’s truly my wish for everyone this season. Rich Halliburton/Querencia Woodwinds.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

“If you want to know the meaning of life….Creativity is the low hanging fruit, even if all you create is morning coffee with your special recipe of Folgers, Maxwell House, and a little cinnamon.” Bruce DeBoer.

“Skill without imagination is craftsmanship, but skill with imagination, is art” Home improvement flyer I found in my driveway. Cute.

Notwithstanding a one day flute event at the end of November, my traveling road show is over. Yosemite was great in that I got to hang out with a lot of my favorite artisans, and meet new ones too. One was Dwight Lind, of Quiet Bear flutes. He’s almost as crazy as I am, but …older. He takes over 200 flutes to these events and tries to leave with none. I take 20 and try not to leave with 23. I ended up swapping one of my flutes to Dwight Lind, and since John Kulias (Meadowlark Flutes) was there, I ended up buying yet another of his ceramic flutes, and I’ll tell you why. The group of folks I perform with make a LOT of noise, tough competition for anybody’s wooden flute. John builds a ceramic flute that will take the paint off the side of a house. They’re REALLY LOUD. They’re beautiful too; you can just never drop them.

As with most first year festivals, there was not enough intelligently directed advertising to generate the foot traffic we had hoped for. I volunteered to throw a spike strip across Hwy 41 and try and snag a tour bus headed into Yosemite but the season was about over, and the buses were few and far between, plus I was getting low on spike strips. It is however a great event, and if invited, I’ll be back next year.

The site of my next event, five days after Yosemite, was the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair. Manhattan Beach has the distinction of being a city with some of the most expensive residential real estate in the United States. It is NOT however, the demographic motherlode for NA style flute sales. With over 200 vendors, I found myself competing with embroidered baby dribble bibs, rhinestone dog collars, and wind chimes made from pop bottles. As the only flute vendor, I had folks wandering over, thinking I was selling firearms, or bongs, or both. I had couples coming over asking if I would play a little something to stop their infants from screaming. I could go on and on, and write a whole blog about this event, but I won’t. However, if you EVER see me participating in another generalized “arts and crafts” fair again, don’t come up and say Hi….instead, go back out to your car, root around in your glove box or under your seat, and find your gun. Then come back with it, and shoot me in the head.

I realize that during the two weeks I was on the road peddling flutes, your savings, stocks, and 401k accounts were vanishing into thin air. The economic perfect storm we are experiencing, fueled by greedy and imperfect people, is virtually unprecedented. We are experiencing the lowest level of consumer spending since 1980. I’ll be lowering the prices of flutes yet again for the Christmas season, and at the same time realize a lot of folks don’t need a flute, and won’t care….they need food, firewood, and a prayer. I’ll be doing my best to help out with all three for those folks too.

Switching gears for a moment, I recently built a custom flute for a client, and she requested dished, or slightly cupped finger holes. I had suspended this practice about two years ago, on the advice of a couple of entertainers who play my flutes. They had mentioned the cupping limited their creative latitude in playing the instrument. I don’t even know what that means, but they play these instruments far better than I do. Since that time, I’ve received feedback from a number of folks, particularly those who have collected my flutes over the years, suggesting they miss this feature. Since I sell far more flutes to enthusiasts than performers, some flutes will again have SLIGHTLY indented finger holes, in an effort to strike a happy medium. I’ll indicate both in photos and text which flutes have received this treatment. OK then… hope you had a great Halloween. ….. I don’t believe I’ve ever hoped, or said that before. Ever.