10. Mahogony

And so Nick begins to work the wood for the Carolan Guitar …

Carolan Guitar

At last it’s time to begin building. Infused with the spirit of sustainability, Nick has sourced a piece of reclaimed mahogany for the neck of our guitar. We only wish that we could know it’s full story. Was it a wardrobe? Or perhaps part of a boat?


Whatever it’s previous history, it is now going to become a guitar, so it’s to the workshop to cut it down to size and begin to plane it down to form the neck …

seCicqWb91n49oEN-bQjcha_oPCXOEnd-gkaC2HF-CUNick then prepares a template for the back and sides …


And marks up our flamed maple ready for cutting, bookmatching and gluing …


As Nick begins to work the actual wood, the prospect of the Carolan guitar suddenly seems so much more real. Mind you, there is still a long way to go and now it is the turn of  our software team to get on with the process of testing the patterns that will decorate this wood once it is…

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9. Mapping

Carolan guitar latest: it turns out to be a complex challenge to map between the physical form of our guitar, its interactive patterns and various digital services. I suspect that there are wider lessons here for the Internet of Things.

Carolan Guitar

Our next challenge is to explore how we might decorate the Carolan guitar with interactive patterns. Where should we place them and how should we best map them to various ways of accessing its digital footprint? After some to-ing and fro-ing, we home in on a design that attempts to balance an appreciation of the form and structure of the instrument with an anticipation of the kinds of people that will encounter it, where such encounters might take place, and what they might subsequently do with it.

Design sketch of how we plan to map decorative patterns on various parts of our guitar to interactions with its digital footprint Design sketch of how we plan to map decorative patterns on various parts of our guitar to interactions with its digital footprint

The headstock of a guitar traditionally features a maker’s logo, and so we chose to place a discrete aestheticode at this location that will link to a digital version of our maker’s label, giving its name,  presenting the concept and acknowledging the team.

We decide that the front soundboard of the guitar will tell its…

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A Dread-ful day at the Carolan guitar factory …

Carolan Guitar

Enough of the digital talk. For this post, it’s time to get back to some serious guitar talk instead.

Guided by Nick, we’ve now come up with a design for the Carolan guitar. The body shape is broadly based on the popular Dreadnought (or ‘Dread’) style, a versatile style first created by C. F Martin and Company nearly one hundred years ago and named after the modern battleships of the time. In our case, we’ve extended both upper and lower bouts to make some extra space for aesthteticode patterning, leading to a slightly asymmetric shape.

We’ve also opted for a small cutaway, both for the traditional musical reason of providing easier access to the upper reaches of the fretboard, but also to provide an extra hidden nook for decoration (don’t tell anyone else about this secret code location though!) .

Perhaps the most distinctive features of our design are the sound holes. Inspired by our earlier…

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The digital footprint of guitars

Carolan Guitar

So far, we have focused on the physical aspects of the Carolan guitar. What kind of guitar might it be? What kinds of patterns should decorate it? And how could these be embedded into its wood?

We also need to consider its digital characteristics. Our aim is to create a guitar that tells its own lifestory. But what might this include? Or more technically, what information should appear in our guitar’s ‘digital footprint’?

An obvious starting point is the story of its creation; the many details of how and why it was designed and built that we are capturing in this blog. This reaches far beyond the standard provenance information that comes with any guitar – the maker, model and serial number that are often found on the maker’s label inside the sound hole – to include a rich documentation of this individual guitar being made.

An example of a maker’s label inside…

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Get Knotted

Liz Jeal has designed some lovely prototype celtic knots for decorating our ‘Carolan’ interactive acoustic guitar.

Carolan Guitar

Liz’s early sketches

Inspired by our celtic muse, Liz begins prototyping some celtic knotwork designs as a first step as towards exploring how we might decorate our Carolan guitar. So it’s out with the sketch pad and time to start drawing. Early ideas soon take shape and lead to a series of initial aestheticode celtic knot motifs.

Liz notes that the repeated but varied toplogical patterns of celtic knots make them an excellent, if somewhat challenging, puzzle for an asthetheticode designer. So we are challenging you to figure out the artful ways in which Liz has managed to embed different codes within her knot designs. Major kudos (but not a free guitar) to the first person who can post a comment telling us which codes are embedded into the above (hint: you might figure it out by eye or perhaps more simply download the Aestheticodes app and scan them from the screen).

Exhibit A: Celtic Knot by…

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