My Shops & Other Places To See

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Thursday

The Music Box Repair Center

Have you ever felt like the luckiest gal in the world? I do! Because right now I'm in California studying with one of the very few specialists left in music box restoration and repair in the Americas, Don Caine. (Hopefully he'll consent to an interview later on too.)

His workshop is home to more tiny tools than you can imagine as well as big industrial gear that is surprising to see being used here, and of course all sorts of clockwork fascinations in various states of trauma, restoration and repair.

There is a small red bird the size of your thumb, that twirls on brass gears in her golden cage and really sings, and a more sullen mottled blue bird in a ruddy red cage that's lost it's voice and just needs some expert mechanical care. Does anyone remember the magical harp in the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, the one that sings? There is one here too and it plays "Music of The Night" with a perfect ethereal harmony.

My mentor is incredibly kind and patient, and for someone who deals in the world of the tiny, the intricate and the precise, he has a big loquacious personality and loves to laugh.

We've taken apart and repaired a Thorens disc player, (which I've never seen in person until now), diagnosed a multiplicity of problems with hissing and clicking and stock-still Romance movements, disassembled and corrected the same, and me, I'm learning first hand the patience and attention to detail absolutely necessary in this work.


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