PLATTSBURGH — Donald Trask’s commitment to work and hobbies are done.
He’s reached the end of those trails.
The octogenarian is not sure what he will do since he stopped his three-year stint at the Strand Center for the Arts in June.
But he departs in an illuminated blaze with his one-of-a-kind stained-glass, electric-steel guitar, which is on exhibit through July 28 in the Strand’s Members Show 2017.
“It took a little over a year,” said the Beekmantown resident.
He built his first stained-glass guitar when his sons were young.
“They both had guitars,” Trask said. “I told them that they had guitars, I want one also. The only trouble is, I’m going to make mine.
“So, I made a guitar, pretty similar to this. It did not have the electrical components in it.
“I go to the (Akwesasne) casino every Saturday night. They have jam sessions. I go and sing once in a while. That’s when I decided to build another one.”
The first guitar, a regular one, depicted a bald eagle focal point with red-and-white stripes swirling on a blue field.
“The Bellamy Brothers, they came out with a song, ‘Old Hippie,’” Trask said.
“I was down in Florida at this time. I had two guys working for me. I was talking about the guitar and picture and everything.”
One of his employees said he knew someone who drew well.
“So, I gave him an outline of the guitar,” Trask said.
“The ‘Old Hippie’ is the one who drew the picture for my first guitar. But I never met the Old Hippie.”
He sold that guitar years ago when he lived in Florida.
NOTHING BUT A HOUND DOG
This time around, he doodled with two pictures, but they didn’t strike him right.
On the Internet, he found an image of a hound dog playing guitar and ran with it.
On the reverse, he did a glass riff of artist James Earl Fraser’s iconic “The End of the Trail.”
The metaphysical depiction of a Native American on horseback was translated into a monumental version for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
“I always favored that picture,” Trask said.
The mixed-media guitar is made of stained glass, colored and iridescent and comprises copper U channels for reinforcement.
The six-string neck with mother-of-pearl inlay and frets was purchased from Japan.
The guitar components include two volume controls and one toggle switch to control one, two or both pickups.
The finishing touch is 100 LED bulbs that shine through the instrument’s blue glass side and red-and-gold top.
“This is a fully playable guitar, just like any guitar you would buy in a store,” Trask said.
“The whole thing is made out of glass except the neck. This has brass inside because you can’t have a piece of glass without any foundation. So, the inside is all brass.”
Each piece of glass is wrapped with copper foil.
“I put flux on the copper, and the flux is on the copper, and that’s what makes the solder stick,” Trask explained.
“There is an oak piece of wood that goes the length of the bottom. That wood is to secure the neck to it. You have to secure these pickups and the bridge and then also secure these controls.
“This is the only one there is. There is no other stained-glass, electric steel guitar.”
NO LIGHT WEIGHT
The guitar weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. Trask has attached strap fittings to the body and has straps.
“You’re not going to hold that over your shoulder and play too long,” he said.
“It has to be played on a table where you would play it the same way they would play the normal steel guitar.”
He said he will sell it if he gets the amount of money he wants.
The stained-glass guitar is eye and aural candy.
“It has a beautiful sound to it,” Trask said.
“If it didn’t have the sound or anything, there would be no sense in having it here or trying to sell it other than somebody put it on a wall or something like that.”
PACKING IT IN
He taught his children this art form, and once he finished the nameless guitar, he called his daughter, Gloria Dever, in Hagerstown, Md., and his son, Steve, who lives in Lancaster, Pa.
“They came up in a pickup truck, and they took everything I owned,” Trask said.
The Rhode Island native was drafted during the Korean War and learned how to do stained glass when he was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in 1954.
“I was station chief at the Fire Station,” he said.
“I had this young kid working for me. He would come in to work, and he had a cigar box with pieces of glass.
“So, I got watching him doing it. That kid was my start.”
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