Meet the Cape Breton man who has handcrafted 500 stringed instruments
GOOSE COVE, N.S. -- A Cape Breton man is taking the concept of “making music” to a whole new level.
Otis Tomas has been handcrafting stringed instruments for decades -- many of them carved from wood he finds on his own property.
“It’s more than a hobby. I’ve been making a living at this for the last 30 years,” says Tomas.
He hasn’t kept track of numbers, but Tomas estimates he has crafted at least 500 stringed instruments by hand over the years.
“Pretty much anything with strings. Harps, you know, mandolins, violas, violins.”
Tomas says he once carved an entire set of instruments out of a single tree on his property near St. Ann’s Bay.
“I mean, a violin is made of spruce and maple … Cape Breton is made of spruce and maple, so I started looking around and finding some pretty interesting pieces of wood,” he says.
His instruments have found their way into the hands of countless musicians and have also been exported around the globe.
“England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, France,” lists Tomas. “There’s a couple in Japan, Hong Kong.”
In addition to the peace and quiet inside his backyard workshop in Goose Cove, N.S., Tomas says he enjoys the creativity involved in his work, and the chance to meet musicians from all over the world.
“I haven’t by any means figured it all out, I mean, nobody has,” he says. “It’s the mystery in it that I think I like more than anything.”
Tomas says carving instruments has allowed him to enjoy music on a different level and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“The idea that these instruments will be going on long after I am, and that I’ve created something that people appreciate, and they have a real meaningful relationship with.”