Tips on Decoration and making a 'Fair Organ' Front

by Ken Rawlings

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Making a Fair Organ Front
I decided to build a fair organ type of facade for my John Smith Senior organ as I have had interests and connections in that direction since I was a boy. The front is based on the 46 key Chiappa organs and is 30" wide by 24" high.
The backboard is sawn from 6mm ply, and the scrollwork is bandsawn from 10, 12, and 15mm MDF and carved to shape and section. The scrollwork is glued to the backboard and painted using left-over household paint. The floral designs with cherubs, etc. were handpainted by me (I was an art school pupil). The lettering was fretsawn from 1/16" ply, glued in place, and goldleafed with 24 carat leaf.
The bandmaster was carved from MDF and other woods, and based on a full-size one I carved nearly 40 years ago. It was painted and gilded. He beats time and moves his head.

The organ plays very nicely using rolls cut by me from Melvyn Wright's masters, and was displayed on John Smith's stand at the 2000 Great Dorset Steam Fair.

Busker Organ Casework
This is a photo of the first organ I built, which is to the John Smith Busker design. The case has some inlay work in it. The big front scrolls were fretsawn from pine, and carved and painted. The corner spandrels were fretsawn from 1/4" thick mahogony and carved to give some life to them. The lifting handles are intended for use on 'Magnet' kitchen cupboards.

The operating handle was sawn from 1/8" brass sheet to a graceful swan-neck profile, and the mahogony turned knob is about 250 years old, and was originally the winding knob for a long case clock! A smaller version was made for the rewind handle.

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