By Jesse Drake
Combine some thrift store xylophones with months designing in Adobe Illustrator and online gear templates, laser-cutting, gluing, testing, tinkering, a bit of cursing, and what do you get? Six incredibly detailed, programmable glockenspiels.
The interactive music-makers earned Beth Sallay, IT systems administrator and president of Make Salt Lake, a runner-up winner award in a national Maker Share competition, and a featured spot in volume 64 of its Mission to Make magazine.
"I've been making stuff since I was a kid so this kind of attention is new," Sallay said.
The contest win is the latest accolade for Sallay, who was invited to the White House in August 2016 to represent Make Salt Lake at Nation of Makers, part of a federal initiative launched in 2014 to give students, entrepreneurs, and citizens greater access to creative technologies.
The glockenspiels premiered at the Salt Lake City Mini Maker Faire on April 14, where they were fine-tuned for exhibition at the Utah Arts Festival (UAF) on June 21-24. As part of the lead up to the UAF, Sallay was interviewed in The Utah Review about the project.
"There's a lot of delayed gratification in these UAF projects. It can take months to get from the idea to adapting it all the way to a finished product," Sallay said. "But that's a huge part of the fun."
Sallay created the cylindrical drum by slot-fitting and gluing 16 wood strips onto three main gears. Each wood strip has a series of notches, where colorful acrylic tabs can be placed. Knowing that curious kids would want to explore the instruments, she filled in gaps to keep tiny fingers from getting pinched. The drum rotates by way of a hand crank/rod assembly. When turned, individual tabs to strike notes on the xylophone.
Below are photos of Sallay's creative process [credit: Beth Sallay].
Below is a video of one of the Glockenspiels in action [credit: Beth Sallay].