Bear Acker (Executive Director)
I should introduce myself. My name is Alton Bear Acker, and I have been an ASIA member for quite a few years. My family started me working wood when I was about ten years old, my grandfather being a furniture maker, and my father a carpenter. They taught me both crafts and I've done both for many years. In the mid seventies my woodworking entered another phase: stringed instrument making. Among other things, my grandfather had given me music training, and I became a musician outside of woodworking.
Since I play left-handed, and since there's always a lack of left handed instruments, I started making my own. The first one was a five-string banjo, in 1977, and it turned-out OK. I also built a D-size guitar around 1978 that started a period of guitar making, for me, and others. Somewhere along the line I got into Roger Siminoff's F-Model Mandolin plans, and made my first mandolin. I did a few mandolins before being bitten by the violin bug. After a dozen violins mandolins, guitars and banjos, the shop has many patterns, jigs, and memories.
During this time I was teaching cabinetry, carpentry and instrument making, as well as pre-engineering. In pre-engineering I taught AutoCAD and international drafting language; believing that engineers should design as well. I used to talk instrument design using AutoCAD with Jim Rickard. There was a guy. Anyway, I retired from full time education August 2006 and am now in my shop all of the time that I'm not playing music. So, instrument building, music, and now, Director.