Everyone at The Holtkamp Organ Company was very welcoming and accommodating. The owner, Chris Holtkamp, gave us a long and detailed tour around the entire factory for about an hour. Although the building seemed old, and it was not a fancy facility, they had all up-to-date tools and the latest technology and equipment; whatever they need to do the work that they do. Holtkamp does not get a whole lot of visitors, but they took our visit in stride.
You can tell how much pride Chris has for his company and his workers are like one big family. We met all the workers that were there that day—12 craftsmen, metal workers and voicers. Everyone was very nice and answered all our questions. We were really impressed with their craftsmanship. They are very good at what they do and it is amazing how they keep track of all the wood and metal and different parts of the organ. At the time of our visit, they were only working on Shepherd of the Valley’s organ. This really gives you a scope for the magnitude of the project, as there were parts of our organ all across the facility. Simultaneously, they were constructing the wind chest and the blower, refurbishing existing pipes, building new pipes by hand, and doing the voicing [making sure the pipes will acoustically sound right for our sanctuary]one pipe at a time.
|That’s Danny in the plaid shirt working on our console.|
|The stacks of wood that look like bookshelfs are parts of the wind chest, made of poplar wood.|
|These are shiny, brand new pipes. The pointy parts on top are all hand soldering.|
|More pipes for our organ. Everywhere you look there’s pipes- they’re all labeled- some 3,000 pipes. It's amazing that they keep track of them all!|
|Chris, the owner, in front of crucible- working with molten zinc, tin and lead to make the metal sheets.|
|The tin that’s rolled and stacked are brand new metal sheets of tin made in the crucible shown in the other picture. After they’re made, they let them sit and age so they’re easier to work with.|
|Super tall pipes- the largest pipes from the Macalester organ- are waiting to be cut down to fit for our organ.|
|Joe is working on the blower that creates the wind for the organ.|
|Sean, one of the voicers, working on a wooden pipe to make sure it fits- and tuning it so it sounds the way it is supposed to.|
|Michael is the designer- he visited SOTV last week to work with the contractors doing construction in the Sacristy area.|