Mark Wendell Clark began playing a $5 Sears Silvertone guitar at age 7 after a brief encounter with The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Later, a love of antique restoration, wood working, garage sales and dumpster diving produced other trashed treasures such as furniture, wall art, and various sculptures.

 

Also a writer and photographer, Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Graphic Arts from East Texas State University in 1980. After being in awe of a fellow artist/musician friend who began building his own instruments, Mark came across a cigar box at a garage sale. From that one dollar purchase, he began designing, building and playing his own creations.

 

Mark’s manifesto is simple. “Though I want my pieces to be visually compelling and unique, each instrument has to sound good and be relatively easy to play. I won’t make something that looks cool but doesn’t produce good sound or is difficult to play. They are musical instruments. You have to play them, not just hang them on the wall.”

Mark Wendell Clark began playing a $5 Sears Silvertone guitar at age 7 after a brief encounter with The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Later, a love of antique restoration, wood working, garage sales and dumpster diving produced other trashed treasures such as furniture, wall art, and various sculptures.

 

Also a writer and photographer, Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Graphic Arts from East Texas State University in 1980. After being in awe of a fellow artist/musician friend who began building his own instruments, Mark came across a cigar box at a garage sale. From that one dollar purchase, he began designing, building and playing his own creations.

Mark’s manifesto is simple. “Though I want my pieces to be visually compelling and unique, each instrument has to sound good and be relatively easy to play. I won’t make something that looks cool but doesn’t produce good sound or is difficult to play. They are musical instruments. You have to play them, not just hang them on the wall.”

Box-style instruments date back to the mid-1800s. The Great Depression of the 1930s saw a resurgence of homemade musical instruments. Times were hard in the American South, and sitting on the front porch singing away the blues was a popular pastime. Musical instruments were beyond the means of most people, but with an old cigar box, a piece of broom handle and a couple of wires from the screen door, a guitar was born.1

 1 Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigar_box_guitar

Many early players and makers of homemade instruments were musically illiterate with no training or knowledge of music theory, but a knack for innovation, craftsmanship and the ability to play by ear. Lack of formal exposure to music actually enhanced the creativity and unique style of the instruments and their sound. Since makers/players didn’t know the rules, there were no set rules. A single-string “diddly bo” can translate the blues as effectively as a six-string guitar-type. There are literally dozens of tunings and playing styles. These are usually played finger style like a guitar, or with a slide made from an empty whiskey bottle or spark plug socket.

Mark makes his own slides, straps and accessories. He also offers a line of amplifiers made from old clocks, radios and drive-in movie speakers.

 

For more information, visit Cigarboxnation.com