Hidden away in the mazes of Mellwood Art Center is a nifty studio where an artist recycles items into working musical instruments. The studio is littered with power tools and rifle shells amongst other piles of things like cigar boxes and hand tools. The mind behind these metamorphoses belongs to Tate Chmielewski, who is also an indie filmmaker and photographer.
The instruments are made from coffins, boxes, gas cans, and skulls: items other might consider junk. His
studio shows off banjos made from gourds, a stand-up bass made from a coffin, and cigar box ukeleles. There's also an instrument made from an animal skull. He was happy to play a four-string electric guitar made from a WWII ammunition box, complete with rifle shell knob. The amp he was hooked up to was his own creation as well, recycling an old wooden box. Chmielewski began exploring with cigar box instruments about seven years ago after seeing some that he thought he could improve upon.He's been making instruments for seven years now.
The artist's other creative works also deliver a polished experience. His digital creative media spans graphic design, photography, video, and 3D CGI animation. His web site is full of samples of his work, including music videos, featured web sites, and other videos. His short films have garnered him awards like "Best experimental film" at regional film festivals. He is currently working on a web series called "River City Slayer" and seems to have a penchant for horror. His work has also included commercial art, providing design elements for corporate projects like a Starbucks' ad campaign.
You can find Stera Instruments in studio A - 128 at Mellwood Art Center. You can also check out his web site at www.sterainstruments.com or shop his etsy page.