A little background information.....
Arts in the Orchard September 2000
Although I played piano in grade school, I never considered myself musically inclined. But today when I sit on the couch of my home in Capitan and strum a dulcimer, I feel right at home playing what is considered the only true American instrument.
I am also one of a very few female dulcimer builders in the United States.
Glen Rose, Texas, May 2000
Manitou Springs, Colorado, August 2000
I was living in North Carolina in the early 1980's when I went to an art festival in Boone, NC, and noticed an elderly man in a booth playing a dulcimer. I was captivated. The music stole my heart. It was so sweet and beautiful. I wanted to buy one on the spot, but hadn't brought enough money with me. I thought I could buy one in a music store, but none of them carried the instrument. I was then working as a quality control specialist in manufacturing engineering for Northern Telecom in the Research Triangle Park.
With some diligence after moving to Minnesota in 1984, I found a man who sold dulcimers and taught me how to build one. Everyone thought it was so beautiful and the music was so pretty, but I knew that, as my first project, it was really crude. No one else in my community played a dulcimer, but I soon remedied that. I built more dulcimers and made a couple for my friends and taught them how to play. The dulcimer is music by number, and once I got into it, some of the old grade school piano training kicked in. I soon produced six more dulcimers and took them to a show, quickly selling out.
At this point, I started to re-design the patterns to my own liking and came up with my own unique designs. Occasionally, I would trade hours, performing as a strolling musician on the instruments for booth space at shows. I liked the freedom of the lifestyle and decided to try life on the road while continuing to study the dulcimer. By that time, I also was creating custom apparel for historical reenactments I attended, a business that became my mainstay after settling in Santa Fe in 1990. I never felt so free since I was 18 and left home with no obligations, no furniture, no utility bills, no mortgage. I traveled to Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Arizona. For a while I left my tools behind and stopped building the instruments and just concentrated on performing and my sewing machine, which was easier to pack than wood working equipment! I did a show there (in Santa Fe) and fell in love with New Mexico. I stayed three years, but it (Santa Fe) was too big and congested. I wanted a smaller community. I asked for a relocation packet from the Ruidoso Chamber of Commerce and moved to Lincoln County in 1993.
Busking in Ruidoso, New Mexico July, 1999
Jamming with the neighbors,
Capitan, New Mexico, June, 1999
Taking a break in the Hondo Valley,
New Mexico, September, 1999.
My brother and me, near the Woodtick Inn,
Northern Minnesota, September 1998
My custom apparel business expanded into orders from musical performers, including Cher, Brooks and Dunn, Holly Dunn, and others. I sold to stores all over United States, and also in Sweden and France. When the apparel business began to wain, I let it. I was burned out! In 1998, I reassembled my woodworking shop and started building dulcimers again and attending music festivals as the clothing line slowed down. I'm totally self-taught in woodworking and playing the dulcimer, taking no classes and not having any formal institutional training. My dulcimer designs have evolved with the influence of southwest art and culture. That first dulcimer I built back in 1984 didn't come with any music and I was not on the Internet then (the mid-1980s). I discovered a company in California with a couple hundred dulcimer books and teaching tapes. I would order a couple, save my money and order a few more. I tried several different styles of playing before developing my own style.
Through a lot of study, trial, error and experimentation, my dulcimer designs have evolved since 1984 and I now operate The Dulcimer Shop in Capitan, New Mexico.
Riding in the New Mexico mountains.
In memory of my beautiful filly, Apache Gold.
The gang's all here.
Waiting for our cue.
Do I look like Kitty?
Can't shoot unless you load it first!
After the card game.
The gang playing cards.
Going on a casino gig - 2004.
Arts in the Orchard with Mark Remington and
(sitting down) my hubby, Paul Coates - 2004.
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Vintage Spanish Charro Coats
by Riders Through the Century
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As seen in
"100 Years of Western Wear"
by Tyler Beard
FROM THE ORIGINAL DESIGNER
Visual design copyright no. VA669290
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Are you an RVer??!!??
If you are not familiar with the Escapees RV Club, take a peek at "What is a SKP?", which includes their history, purpose and philosophy.