Jacob's Musical Chimes from United States
is the artisan in the spotlight this week
Jacob Sokoloff's wind chimes have been striking a soothing chord with enthusiastic customers for 27 years. After gaining expertise as a maker of gourd harps and wooden flutes in the 1980s, he tackled a new challenge: musical chimes. Working with wood and steel, he created a piece he called the "Waterfall." To his amazement, this first design became a phenomenon at the local flea market. Intrigued, he called on his sister Fern to help with marketing and distribution and set about making chimes in earnest.
The overriding emphasis of Jacob's work is the musical quality of the chime: the pitch of the pipe, the relative tuning of the whole, and the "sweetness" (purity) of each tone. He carefully evaluates each new batch of raw pipe, adjusting for differences in seam and alloy composition which can affect pitch and create discordant sounds, and hand tunes each chime before it is sold.
Fern Sokoloff's marketing and design ability contributed to the company's explosive growth throughout the 1990's. She began designing new products and took the company to the wholesale market while Jacob continued to craft his signature chimes. Her own line of miniature chimes, the "Cantabell," features whimsical images and small, solid aluminum pipes. Groundbreaking and affordable, the Cantabell chimes were the first in a line of miniature, magnetic, and plant stake chimes, along with many others. "Each chime contains a little bit of the magic of that first Waterfall wind chime," Fern says. "It feels great to be able to offer such a magical product that everyone can afford."
In 2001 the pair took a break from the wholesale market to focus on retail, and Fern opened a fair-trade artisan gift shop called Fern's Garden in her home town of Long Beach, California. Now in its ninth year, the store is a fixture in Long Beach's trendy Belmont Shore neighborhood.