Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bagpipes for Leonard

Last week after I posted FID Leonard in his Scottish Highlander outfit, one commenter suggested that all he needed was pipes. To tell the truth, bagpipes hadn't occurred to me, but once planted the idea took hold and I couldn't let it go. (Thanks, Mia!😊)

First I looked online to see if I could find suitably sized bagpipes for sale. The musical instruments site where I bought my small bouzouki didn't have any, but I did find some pipes advertised on another site as a Christmas ornament. The size seemed right, the price was decent and yet I didn't buy them. Instead I pulled up lots of images of the real thing, hoping to find a pattern. Although I didn't find one, I learned enough simply by looking that I decided to make my own anyway.
I started by assembling materials. I didn't buy anything. Heaven knows I have enough craft materials on hand to stock a shop as it is. I just went with what I had. Pictured above:
  • an image - I could have printed a diagram from the internet, except I found an image in one of my books: What's What, a Visual Glossary of the Physical World, by David Fisher and Reginald Bragonier Jr. Hammond, 1981. There may be newer editions, but for something as ancient as bagpipes it didn't matter.
  • fiberfill - for stuffing the bag.
  • glue - to hold it all together.
  • round sticks - 2 sizes, for the pipes. (Mine came from the grocery store.) I used a candy apple stick for the bass drone (the tall pipe that is thicker around than the others) and a couple of wooden skewers to cut down for the chanter, the blowpipe and the two tenor drones.
  • paints - I used black and dark brown acrylic craft paints. I painted a coat of dark brown first, then after it dried I painted black over it. I was going to use silver paint for the metal bits, but decided to use craft sheet metal instead (see below).
  • polymer gloss medium - for a bit of shine on the pipes and protection from scratches.
  • 2 paintbrushes - one for paint and a different brush for gloss.
  • wire - The photo shows a small roll of florist wire covered in white thread. This was to have wrapped around the drones to represent the mounts, but I found as I tried to work with it that the thread unraveled. Glue just made a bigger mess, so I discarded it.
  • tartan fabric - to cover the bag. I replaced this with red velvet.
  • ribbon - to connect the tops of the drones. I replaced this with a length of yellow cord (pictured below) with tassels at either end. No idea what it was originally attached to--it's been sitting in a box of notions for years. It was the perfect length so I went with it. So glad I didn't use it for something else!
  • muslin - for the bag itself. Actually the muslin was a test of the paper pattern I drew. It worked, so I used it. Bagpipe bags are usually covered with either a solid fabric or a tartan.
  • ArtEmboss metal sheet. I cut a strip about one-half inch wide. The metal is soft enough to cut with scissors and folds easily. I folded each long edge under by one-eighth inch, so that my final width was one-quarter inch. The folds make it thicker and the edges are smooth so I won't cut my fingers. I cut the long strip into pieces just big enough to wrap around each pipe. Although the metal looks gold in the photo, the color is pewter.
  • fancy braid - to decorate the end of the bag cover. It should be a fringe, but I didn't have any.
  • jump rings - my substitute for the florist wire. I used jewelry making tools (a cheap set acquired for doll projects) to open the rings enough to insert them and them clamp them shut again.
  • miscellaneous - scissors, sandpaper, craft knife, wire cutters, ruler, needle and thread, etc.
The finished pipes. From left to right: tenor drone, tenor drone, bass drone, blowpipe, and on the bottom: chanter. I admit to a somewhat unscientific approach to positioning my pipes. I made the bag, stuffed it, sewed it shut, and then jabbed the pipes into it. When it came to putting the bag cover on, I had no way of transferring the holes to the second fabric so I made new holes where I thought they should go. They didn't line up exactly--if at all. If I make another set I'll mark the placement of each hole on the pattern.
And here are the finished pipes in use. They probably could have been slightly bigger. My bass drone couldn't have been any taller unless I cut it from a dowel, because what you see is the actual length of the candy apple stick, minus about one-quarter inch that's sunk into the bag. I did find measurements for standard size pipes on one website, but when I converted them to doll size the resulting instrument would have been way too big. It is what it is.
In other news, FID Claude arrived yesterday and I'm expecting Raccoon Monica tomorrow. I'll discuss them next week unless there is a doll meet-up next Saturday. Or if there is a doll meet-up and snow, in which case I won't go.


  1. That came out so well! The pipes look especially beautiful. I will need to check out that Art Emboss craft metal--it looks useful for all kinds of projects!

    1. Thanks Fishcake! ArtEmboss is from AMACO, American Art Clay Co. Inc., 4717 W. 16th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222. It's pure metal, made in Spain. I bought it at Michael's years ago to make fantasy armor for dolls, which I never got around to making. It comes in a few different colors. Great stuff!

  2. Great job! They look like the real thing!

    1. Thanks Tam! I wish I had a mini lathe, because the pipes should be turned. The sheet metal only gives the illusion of turned wood pipes connected by metal rods. I'm glad they look good regardless.

  3. I am so happy you felt inspired by the idea (which you would have had without me, I am sure). He looks so complete and authentic with it, this should get some kind of award.

    1. Thanks Mia for both the idea and the comment. I tried to post a couple of pics to Iple's Photography forum but I couldn't figure out how to do it. After filling out the form and adding links to photos, I didn't know what to press to publish it. "Write" didn't do anything while "List" took me back to the list but nothing else. I didn't see any other option.

    2. Write usually does the trick, but maybe the site was too busy to work properly? And if you just add links and don't choose html somewhere in the top half of the form, nothing happens. But you can upload pictures as well, maybe you like to try that. And some sun and warmth to you! We had the first really sunny day today. Time in the garden, yay

    3. I think maybe I didn't check html the first time. I just tried it now and succeeded in posting 2 photos.

      Sunshine sounds so nice. We got close to 30 inches of snow over 2 days. Where is Spring?

  4. Oh my I love it!!! It looks so great!! I think that it look awesome, you are really skilled :D

    And belated congrats on Claude! Did Monica arrive too? Hope you were able to go to the meet-up!

    1. Thanks Musume! I don't know about skilled, but I do have determination, which sometimes makes up for lack of ability. Monica arrived on Monday--she's gorgeous! The meet-up is today but I won't go. We had snow late yesterday and it's so cold that the siding on the house makes booming noises as it contracts. The roads look icy. I am so ready for Spring.