Enriching lives through art and craft

Playing (With) Trash: Building a Ukulele from Scratch · Zeke LeonardWood

Workshop at a glance

Learn the techniques needed to build a musical instrument from scratch.


  • Steam-bending
  • Carving
  • Jointery


  • Wood


  • A playable ukulele
  • Understanding processes necessary to build musical instruments

Artist Bio

Zeke Leonard is Associate Director of the Syracuse University School of Design, as well as being the coordinator of the School of Design’s First Year Experience. His research involves the roles that craft practice, social responsibility and environmental stewardship in contextually-relevant design and fabrication practices. Central to his work is the re-purposing of discarded materials and objects in ways that inspire conversation and call communities to action. Zeke regularly partners with community groups and organizations to find ways to put local resources to better use. Zeke holds an MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in Set Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. zekeleonard.com

  • Zeke Leonard
  • Zeke Leonard
  • Zeke Leonard
  • Zeke Leonard

Workshop Description

In this workshop, students will spend a week building their own ukulele! Students will learn to scratch-build musical instruments out of wood that was destined for the landfill. This workshop will explore steam-bending, carving, and traditional jointery techniques while thinking and talking about how we make decisions about what has “value” and about our relationship with and contribution to the waste stream. Students will also make music and have a lot of fun! This workshop is open to all skill levels, so whether you are a beginner who wants to learn their way around a workbench, a seasoned woodworker looking to try something new, or even a musician who is interested in learning more about your own tools of the trade, there is something for everyone.

ART WORKSTENNESSEE ARTS COMMISIONTENNESSEE FOR THE ARTSTennessee Specialty License PlatesEAST TENNESSEE FOUNDATIONWindgate Foundation Arrowmont is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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