A passion for music poses an interior design dilemma: How to keep a beloved instrument close at hand while complementing a room’s decor.
That was the question Caleb Blake, a Calgary woodworker with an eye for design, set out to answer. “I was raised in a musical family and I play guitar as does my wife,” he says. “Like most music lovers, we regard musical instruments as special, almost works of art, and feel they should be displayed as such.”
However, finding a way to do so for their half-dozen prized instruments proved to be an exercise in frustration. And so, the 26-year-old entrepreneur set out to build a better guitar stand. He drew upon skills learned through a lifelong love of crafting fine woods, further refined while he worked in construction, building timber-framed homes, involving much detailed work by hand.
From his home shop in his two-car garage, he tinkered for close to seven years on original designs. It culminated in 2019 with the launch of Natural Collection Stands, the resulting collection of artisanal stands for guitars and other string instruments, each crafted by hand. The company was the winner of the 2020 Made in Alberta Award in the Furnishings and Home Decor category.
There is a practical aspect to properly showcasing an instrument, as Blake learned the hard way. When his son was two years old, he accidentally destroyed a favourite one left propped against a chair. “Hanging a guitar on the wall not only elevates it to wall art, but keeps it out of harm’s way,” Blake says.
He has designed two versions of wall-mounted solid hardwood brackets just for guitars: one in walnut, the other in maple. Both are available in different sizes to fit ukuleles as well. His innovation calls for inset stainless steel pegs covered with a neck-protecting cushion of handsewn Portuguese cork. An ingenious cleat-mounting system cleverly conceals all screws and is easy to install.
Blake also has designed an artfully curved floor stand for those who prefer a more sculptural approach to displaying a guitar. The original concept was born during a trip to visit family living on Vancouver Island. In the music room stood an extraordinary one-of-a-kind guitar stand, handcrafted by his brother-in-law’s father. Fascinated, Blake set out to recreate the design, learning hardwood-bending techniques to do so. After many years and many revisions, he now provides his own take, available in maple or walnut.
Even with a streamlined process, it now takes between eight and 10 hours to complete each stand. And Blake’s custom-made performing stool requires a full 40 hours or more of painstaking hand work to produce. Made to order, it features a sculpted seat and supports to ensure a musician can play comfortably. There is also a stand to hold the guitar at hand, whether onstage or, as preferred by the customer in Hong Kong who recently purchased one along with a guitar stand, in the living room.
Natural Collection Stands may be purchased online or through the company’s Etsy shop. The craftsman is open to discussing custom projects as well. Eventually, he would like to expand his offerings to include other string instruments, and perhaps some in the brass family. “Mass-produced metal stands do exist for every instrument,” Blake says. “I want to make ones that are unique and beautiful in their own right.” •
Natural Collection Stands