My father used to restore old player pianos, or pianolas, when I was a kid. He’d buy them at action and fix them up so they could play and then sell them. I don’t know if he ever made much money at it, but he seemed to enjoy it. He also acquired a huge supply for the scrolls needed to play on the pianos. We had mountains of them.

My dad died nearly 17 years ago and my mum sold the last of the pianos and all the scrolls when she sold the house not long after.

I was walking past a second hand store today and they had a stack of the old scrolls in the window and I couldn’t help buy a few. In a little homage to my father, I’ve tried making a little book out of one. I cut down the slip cover it came in to make the covers of the book, and I cut up the scroll itself for the paper. The paper was harder to work with than I thought it would be. It’s quite tough paper and has a real spring to it, and having been rolled up tight for years, it just won’t lie flat. I wasn’t sure how the paper would take ink, but I did  a little test and was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed.

Ink test

In the end I have a nice little book.

Nice little book
Springy book paper

I have enough material to make a few more out of this batch of scrolls, so I’m sure my technique will improve.

Pianola scrolls