I began building musical instruments in the late 1970’s as my interest in wood crafting and folklore grew. At the time I was a graphic artist, but also an aspiring musician, and wished to build my own instruments on which to play.
A big influence on my early instrument making was Dennis Waring. (Ph.D. Ethnomusicology) who was writing a book on making folk instruments when I first met him in 1977. He kindly let me look over his shoulder, help out with his projects and unselfishly shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for folklore and folk instruments with myself and all who came to him for instruction. Here's Dennis' website: http://www.WaringMusic.com
The recession of 1982 left me with time on my hands, and I opened a woodworking shop called the Prairie Woodworks Group with several other talented craftsmen, and began making instruments in earnest, crafting such things as Appalachian and hammer dulcimers, citterns, Irish bouzoukis, bodhrans, French-Canadian wooden spoons, harps and ‘Kits for Kids’ for my Artists-in-the-Schools workshops.
By the early 2000s it became obvious to me that harps were my main interest, so I re-organised the business as ‘Fisher Harps’, and began exhibiting my work at various festivals throughout North America, exposing my instruments to a wide array of harpers, and learning much about their tastes and needs regarding a functional, beautiful instrument.
In 2005 I completely revamped my harp line, switched to the Savarez Alliance 'carbon' strings and precision Camac levers, and began experimenting with double profiled, master-grade cedar soundboards and round-backed soundboxes. As well, I changed how the neck and pillar were constructed, and worked to lower the weight of the harp. From the Autumm of 2004 until the Autumn of 2007, Rick Kemper, of Silver Spring, Maryland, gave me a great deal of assistance in making the round-back harp body shells for my harps. Rick has his own website, and an excellent on-line instruction manual called 'Building the Lever Harp'. http://www.sligoharps.com/
Out of the new line of harps I developed in 2005 the one model that has generated an astonishing amount of interest is the Éireann, especially from players in Ireland. With many top performers and teachers now owning and espousing this harp, I am devoting increasing resources to it's development and manufacture.