Handmade Uillean Bagpipes, Mar 06 | Tim Britton Fashions "The Most Difficult of Instruments"

Tim Britton (right) and Mark Stimson craft fine uillean bagpipes in their Fairfield, Iowa, studio.

Strollers walking past 406 W. Depot Avenue in Fairfield, Iowa,may well have peeked into the large north-facing windows and wondered at thegaggle of half-made pipes standing at attention in the afternoon sun. PipemakersTim Britton and Mark Stimson have been as busy as Santa’selves filling orders for Irish uillean pipes.

Tim Britton has been internationally acclaimed as a player and maker of theuillean pipes for 30 years. Three years ago artist/woodworker Stimson apprenticedto Britton in pursuit of this “most difficult of instruments.”The last two years have been supported by two Traditional Arts ApprenticeshipProgram grants from the Iowa Arts Council.

There are many processes involved in manufacturing a set of bagpipes fromscratch, including woodturning, metalsmithing, reedmaking, leatherworking,and other arcane skills. Check out their informative website at www.uilleanpipes.com.