Gourd Banjers & Other Commercial Endeavors



I put this booklet together back in 1979. The cover design is taken from Ananias Davisson’s 1816 shape note hymnal, the Kentucky Harmony (a little inside reference). The back cover was deliberately left blank. I originally planned to send a copy of the book to the Western White House, expecting to get a bland form letter thanking me for my gift, etc. Then, in the style of Don Novello’s Laszlo Toth letters, I could print this on the back cover. I sent the book but received nary a response: end of plan. Perhaps somewhere in the archives of the Nixon Library reposes a copy of this little book. Unless someone took it home. (Out of Print. Limited quantities: $20).


This style of knife originated among Basque tobacco workers in southern France. The blade is the traditional yatagan shape of Mediterranean knives. Decorative studs make it more secure in the hand and the back of the blade has fancy file work. I form these knives on the basic Opinel which was developed in 1890. It has a distinctive collar which turns to lock the blade in place. The wood is beautifully-grained Mediterranean olive. Ask if you want walnut, beech or oak. Each knife is unique, practical and stylish, light yet sturdy, perfect for picnic or everyday use.
Two sizes: (3 1/2″ closed: $35)(4 1/2″ closed: $40)

Bolo Ties

I made a number of bolo ties from antique 19th century belt buckles from Bolivia. They are probably coin silver and definitely one of a kind. I doubt I’ll find any more. I braided the ties from a beautiful brown kangaroo leather with knotted ends. I never had much interest in bolo ties until I made these, now I wear mine everywhere. I have just two left. Ca.2 1/2″ high. ($80)


I make gourd banjers in several styles, all based on my understanding of the earliest integration of African ideas with European techniques. None is patterned after a known instrument but all are within the range of possibilities of the late 18th, early 19th century. Each instrument is unique, taking into account the individual gourd and piece of wood used for the neck. There is no fingerboard. Each gourd is burned with a traditional West African calabash design. ($450-500).

I have prepared another site devoted solely to banjers. To go there click here.