An Idaho artist will be featured Friday on the cable program “Handcrafted America” on the INSP network.
In his Coeur d’Alene workshop, Michael Norris is so busy that even while he chats on the phone, he’s hand sanding a music stand that will end up in Chicago. The soft “scrape, scrape” sound punctuates his conversation as he easily laughs and jokes about his work.
Norris, known as “Mister Standman,” has been making handcrafted wooden music stands since 1988. Norris made the first stand for his wife, who played the harp. The business grew and now he ships all over the world.
He uses over 100 different designs, and each stand is custom built and handmade. Norris says they can be made out of anything, from alder to maple to walnut to cherry or any kind of wood.
Norris is a musician. “I play a million different instruments,” he jokes. But his full-time job is making stands.
“Everybody always asks me that,” he laughs. “I make a damn good living making music stands, we produce well over 350 a year,” says Norris.
He says there’s a big demand for custom built music stands. He has a waiting list of eight to 24 weeks because he’s building each one by himself, by hand.
“Everything that goes out the door is pretty top notch,” he says.
People are willing to wait for Norris’ creations because they’re handmade, and he laughs, because he’s the only manufacturer of wooden music stands in the U.S.
“One guy,” Norris says, “everything else is made in China, so if you want custom stuff or stuff to match certain furniture, I’m it, I’m the only one.”
Some stands feature intricate scrollwork, some have carved initials or objects like trees or the musical instruments his customers play. The deep brown, red and golden colors of the wood shine through on each custom piece.
He says he was surprised when he got the call from “Handcrafted America.” He’ll be featured Friday at 6:30 p.m. MT on the family-friendly network INSP, along with two other craftsmen. The show goes behind-the-scenes to see how the products are created.
Then Norris jokes that his waiting list can’t wait and he’s got to get back to work.
“I better get my pocket knife out and start whittling again,” he laughs, as he signs off the call.
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
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