Students turn old pianos into new furniture
Construction students have transformed two antique pianos into a drinks cabinet and a combined coat rail and boot store.
One was an Allison piano, owned by Dr Stephen Bullamore, director of music and master of the Song School at Newark Parish Church.
The piano is thought to date from the 1930s and it was in possession of the Bullamore family since the 1980s.
“With the passage of time the piano was in need of an overhaul. Such a restoration would have cost more to do than the piano would have been worth and could only have been pursued for sentimental reasons,” said Dr Bullamore.
The piano’s transformation first started before the pandemic, when wood occupations technician at West Nottinghamshire College, Ian Bradford, tasked a group of students to bring new life to the instrument as a project.
Jack Bond, Kane Swain, Yestin Price, Branan Brown and Maddie Esswood turned an old Jokisch & Hahn upright piano and the vintage Allison small grand piano into bespoke furniture.
Wood occupation technician Ian Bradford said: “Although the pianos were in pretty poor condition, we immediately recognised their potential.
“The students worked extremely hard to dismantle them without causing damage, sympathetically removing the parts that were no longer needed, before carefully re-assembling them and applying the new finishes to create two truly unique, beautiful pieces of furniture.
“They’ve used the skills gained at college to completely re-imagine two proud, old instruments that have their own history and story while retaining their individual character. They should feel very proud of what they’ve achieved.”
The students collaborated with different skills to the project.
Kane, Jack and Yestin, carpentry and joinery students, dismantled the instruments before the radical transformation and customising.
The stylish coat rail and boot store was built with brass hooks, a storage compartment and umbrella-holder.
To add the final touches, painting and decorating students Branan and Maddie painted the upright piano in shades of green, grey and yellow and the grand piano was turned into a drinks cabinet.
In and out of lockdowns, the group had to be taught online, therefore a hand-picked group from this year’s class had to take over the project, with the help of Ian and colleagues Reece Pridmore, Jordan Harrison and Dave Cope.
“Thanks to these talented students, working under the watchful eye of Ian, the piano has now been given a new lease of life in a different form,” said Dr Bullamore.
Jack, who studies the Intermediate Certificate in Site Carpentry, said: “It’s very rewarding to see the pianos go from looking past their best to looking as lovely as they do now. I like making stuff, that’s why I chose to get involved in these projects.
“Knowing the owners will appreciate them brings an extra level of satisfaction.”
Months later, the department had a new project in hand, to transform a small grand-piano that they had worked before into a drinks cabinet.
The piano reconstruction projects started in 2018 within the college construction department, so that students could put in practice their creativity and learnt skills.
Maddie, a Level 2 Diploma in Property Maintenance student who works as an apprentice technician at the college, said: “It’s been amazing to do this and I’ve learnt so much, not just about restoring the pianos but finding out more about the stories behind them. We’re doing more than just learning things in lessons, we’re getting involved in community projects, which is fantastic.”
Anyone who is interested in purchasing the Jokisch & Hahn piano should contact Ian Bradford by email at: Ian.Bradford@wnc.ac.uk or call 01623 900262.
“We wanted to give students who are ahead in their lessons, and who show a particular interest in their craft, a special project to work on outside of class.
“It’s about turning old things into something new while preserving their original identity.
“Above all, it gets students thinking outside the box, helps them gain transferrable skills and gives them extra motivation to achieve their qualifications.” concluded Ian.