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Bookbinding has been an interest since I visited the bindery at Williamsburg VA in the 7th grade. The book above is my attempt at leather binding. It is also my first leather "tooling". The contents are the collective manuals, data sheets and reduced drawings for the last set of machinery we built for a nuclear utility. Yes, that's over a 4" pile of documentation!

Ancient Greek Kitharae were the instrument of the classical Greek poets. I first became interested in this instrument when one of our children were looking for props for a High School Latin dinner. The smaller kithara above was made at that time from pine framing lumber and luan plywood.

kiuthara details

Later I spent over a year researching the construction of musical instruments for a book project. While in libraries all over the country I also researched the Kithara. There is very little known about them and NO extant examples of them or complete examples in sculpture. The one above was designed after studying every available vase painting and the few things written. It was built for a "show and tell" item at an American Musical Instrument Society meeting where I presented it and the book project. It was my luck that this group consisted of museum curators and other authors all looking for project financing too.

Musical Instruments - The Guitar

I found my son Patrick, age 16 making a miniature guitar out of balsa wood and I asked,
"Why don't you build the real thing?"

The reply was an obvious, "I don't know how. . "

And I said, "I'll teach you." And I got one of those "Oh SURE" looks. . .

We started on some research into laying out the frets which turned out to be one of those not very well known things and then designing the guitar. It was Patrick's original design idea to use two overlapping triangles laid out with a compass for the body. His had a triangular sound hole and a trapeze bridge and mine (above) had a round sound hole and fixed bridge.

The guitars were made from local walnut, old ebony supplied by a friend, spruce bought new along with some other materials. The necks were aluminium reinforced and dovetailed into the body with a tapered dovetail. The fixtures for bending and gluing up the bodies were almost as big a project as building the instruments. They were built over a period of two summers between the two kithara above.

Genealogy and Heraldry

Dempsey Family Marshalling of Arms

Genealogy is serious business. It is not something to guess about or fake. I spent a couple years between jobs researching and compiling the most definitive history of our family possible. It took more than just those years, lots of correspondence and many hours in musty records offices decoding the terrible handwriting of court clerks from long ago.

Heraldry I do for fun. Nobody in the US is actually entitled to an English or European coat of arms. The above marshalling of arms is our children's immediate family.

O'Malley Coat of Arms Dempsey Embroidered Coat of Arms When I digitized the Dempsey Arms for embroidery I researched Heraldic lions better and produced the above.

Return to biography of Jock Dempsey

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