The Highlight of the Month program at The Indian Craft Shop focuses on a particular craft area, region or artist family/group. Our aim is to illustrate the diversity of tribal groups and the wide variety of artistic expressions and traditions in the country today.
Bob Wabnimkee Bellows began making flutes in 1993, after purchasing one and enjoying it so much that he decided he wanted to make one. He began to research how they were made in the past, as well as how they are being made today. After corresponding with noted flute collector, archivist and performer Betty Hensley and other flute players and makers, Bob began to experiment by making his own. After a year of making flutes, he attended a concert of noted flutist R. Carlos Nakai, who tried out one of Bob's flutes during intermission and called it "Nice." This was all Bob needed to begin making flutes in earnest. Bob learned to make his flutes by trial and error. He first started making them from bamboo so his mistakes would not be so expensive. As he mastered his craft, he began using woods that are traditionally used by Native Americans, such as cedar, sycamore, cottonwood and poplar. He has made them in all different sizes and pitches. If he sees an old Native American flute that intrigues him, Bob will do research and experiment until he is able to replicate it. Bob is a full time elementary school teacher and part time flute maker. He sees flute making as an important part of his spiritual and creative life needs. As Bob has nurtured his talent for making flutes, he has also discovered his gift for playing them. He can pick up anything he hears, and delights in playing music that comes to him as he is playing. Bob particularly enjoys performing for and with children, who he inspires to join in with drums and rattles and create their own music. This demonstrates Bob's belief that everyone has their own music and there is no "wrong" way to play.
©The Indian Craft Shop 1999