THE PIANO PROJECT
The Piano Project is a personal project of ours that is very near and dear to our hearts. What happens to a beloved piano when you no longer have room for it in your home, but you just can’t bear to let it go? You create wall art from it!
This piano was gifted to Steve from his grandmother, who got it from her church in the early 90s. When Steve and I were just starting to date, one of the things that really impressed upon me was how well he played the piano. I remember he played “The Little Mermaid” when we were over at a friend’s party, and I was smitten. Later when we were married, it became a permanent fixture in our home. The keys were broken, and he didn’t play it much because of this, but I loved the history of it, the chippy, antiqued finish … and the bold red color. This little piano traveled with us through a couple of moves to our current home, and we always made a place for it.
A couple of years ago, however, I decided to buy Steve a new piano … a Yamaha electric keyboard with the look of a traditional piano. Complete with a full set of keys and a place to plug in headphones so he could play well into the night without making too much noise. This posed a problem … what would we do with the little red piano? The two pianos lived almost side by side for awhile, until we moved it into our bedroom, but this quickly made the bedroom too crowded. We asked family if they wanted it …. nope. Really, who wants an old piano nowadays? You can’t sell them with all the new modern piano keyboards out there, and they are so heavy, nobody really wants to deal with them. I was heartbroken that it seemed that it was time to say goodbye to this sweet little piano.
Then one day, I was watching Home Town on HGTV, and the light bulb went off. Earlier in that season of the show, there was an old piano left behind in the home. The show’s designers, Ben and Erin, took out the guts of the piano, and converted the piano “shell” into a drafting desk for the homeowners. But it wasn’t that episode that had me inspired. It was a later one where he had saved the internal “action” of the piano, and then created a piece of wall art for another homeowner’s music room. So I showed the episode to Steve and asked him if he would be willing to do the same, and he was completely on board with it. Yay!
So we took the piano apart piece by piece. There are actually step by step process directions of this on the internet. I guess when you move one of these pianos, you are actually supposed to take it apart to move it. Nobody ever does that. We never did! Anyway, these instructions were really helpful with us in this process!
THE PIANO KEYS
As we were taking the parts of the piano apart, we had an idea for another piece of wall art, aside from the original idea of the action … the keys themselves. We LOVED the way the keys looked with the back half exposed. The numbers written in by the original piano maker was so cool! So we started with this part of the project. We gathered up all the pieces we needed – the black keys, the white keys, and the base support they were installed on.
We decided to honor the “red” of the piano by using some of the original red wooden parts to frame out the keys. There was already the red strip that was originally located at the base of the keys, and we used this as a guide for the rest of the frame. To make the rest of the frame, we used our table saw to rip boards from other parts of the piano’s exterior into the same width. We did have to purchase a 1×2 piece of wood from the store to support the backside of the keys, and were so pleased that this fit perfectly!
After the frame was built, it was just placing the keys in place onto their pegs … kinda like a puzzle. Oh how thankful we were for the original piano maker’s numbers for this part!
Each key had holes predrilled on the other ends of them, so we were able to drill screws through these holes and into the base support. We were afraid of damaging this part, so we started with the drill, and then finished hand screwing them down to tighten.
And here is the final! We were pleased to have that gap appear after so many keys … we think it really gives the piece even more character than it already has!
THE PIANO ACTION
The action part was a VERY simple build. It consisted of 1×4 Select Pine boards, simply framed around the action connected with wood glue and our nail gun. The action itself had holes where it screwed into the original piano, and we simply screwed these into the framing we built.
Here are some close ups of the action. It really is a cool piece of art, with all the hammers and parts involved.
I’m so happy to still have this piano represented in our home! I’m so sentimental about these things … I mean … how many thousands of times Steve’s fingers made music hitting those keys … not to mention memories of our daughter playing on it when she was a little girl … and to not have had to throw that away, these memories are forever preserved in this way! Now we want to pick up all the abandoned pianos and make more of these! If you have a piano that is sentimental in this way, and you are heart-broken at the idea of having to let it go …we can do this for you!
Thanks for reading!