Update: The prototype did indeed go to a good home. The new owner called me and he is pleased with his purchase. I hope to get a testimonial from him soon as well as a recording.
To be honest, I thought our first attempt at making a fiberglass serpent would have to go in the trash. Instead, the tremendous amount of planning paid off...almost. When the halves came off the molds they included a large amount of flashing that I both planned for and expected. This flashing however must be removed after the two halves are bonded together with epoxy to yield a perfectly round shape. In the case of the prototype some of the inner edges were not well enough defined to allow me to take all of the flashing off. In some places my release agent (PVA) went on a little thick and caused a fillet that didn't give me a clean center-line edge. I also had trouble with wrapping the serpent. I planned on building up the over-all thickness of the instrument using epoxy impregnated muslin and wrapping it like a mummy. Well, I didn't cut my fabric on the bias and so I had a lot of unraveling threads. After the wrap cured my prototype looked like a big pin cushion. After a bit of sanding and several top coats of epoxy the outside is not completely smooth but it is not rough either. The overall effect of the carbon laced epoxy makes this serpent look like it is made of obsidian. On the next serpent I will use a wrap of fiberglass tape that has bonded edges to prevent fraying. Live and learn.
The good news is the prototype plays very well. I hope it finds a good home. When I started this project I decided that as quickly as possible I would make it pay for itself. I am ready to start the next prototype and I plan on the sale of this first Serpent to finance the materials for the next.
Above: Serial Number One! That isn't tape on the outside, its muslin, epoxy, and carbon.
The sexy back side
Red enamel inside the bell to give it that traditional look!
Above: I made the receiver, bocal, and mouthpiece. The bocal is tapered brass.
Above: If you look hard, you can see the holes in this photo.
Above: Hand turned serpent mouthpiece in walnut uses a narrow rim and a shallow cup while the inner cup diameter is
close to a small tuba mouthpiece. The critical dimensions but not the outer contour are taken from an original.
Above: This is a good photo to show the outer texture of the prototype. The inner bore is smooth and round
but the flashing that was left before wrapping formed a small ridge on the serpent's center line in
Above: Another view of the business end. There is no paint on the outside, you are looking at the color of the epoxy resin.