Marta Hansen’s journey from being a public school music educator to innovative small business owner is quite the story. She received her degree from UW Madison in music education and taught elementary and middle school students outside of Dallas, Texas for many years. Upon returning to her native Wisconsin Marta began teaching herself the disappearing craft of tuning pianos. She perfected her trade by shadowing retiring tuners, self-study, and endless practice. The Piano Gal began receiving old unsalvageable pianos and parts from various clients. Not knowing what to do with her accumulated pieces, suddenly it all became clear with a Pinterest post of a piano-turned-desk. This crafty lady got straight to work, turning her garage into a thriving workshop and thus began the journey of saving pianos from landfills, one at a time.
Her new shop nestled on the cozy Main Street in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin opened in November and boasts pitch-perfect pianos, sheet music and a beautiful array of repurposed pieces. In The Piano Gal Shop, keys splay out as vast clocks, teardrop hammers dangle from necklaces, and a hollowed harpsichord hangs on the wall as a stunning bookcase. Her self-driven nature manifested into high quality craftsmanship as seen in the many items in her shop. Sitting at a gorgeous harpsichord coffee table she passionately tells me her favorite pieces to create are the vanities, bookshelves, and other larger furniture because she gets to break out the power tools and innovate. She adds that clocks seem to be her current obsession and I know I would love to have her latest work with gold hands pointing to circling hammers. While touring her workshop in the back of her store she explained that the treble strings, wooden action parts, and pedals seem to be the hardest parts to use, but that does not seem to slow her down. I was also introduced to Betty her 1931 McPhail baby grand piano that she is in the process of restoring to bring it back to its original glory. Surrounding Betty were keys, hammers, and piano skeletons that even had me itching to create.
Marta’s main goal is to harvest the piano, as her husband puts it. Her plethora of pieces show she is not having trouble coming up with something for every part. When she hits a snag she calls on local artist and good friend, Carrie Castree, to come up with something new like her sheet music roses made with stems from those tricky action parts. Through a mix of donated and thrifted sheet music, vintage A-tude magazines, all those piano parts and plenty of ingenuity, these artists are creating some remarkable pieces.
Marta’s first goal is to save any piano for its original form to be enjoyed in the living room for decades to come. However, if you come see her face light up as she talks about the store’s items it is apparent that she gets great satisfaction seeing each piece become something new and circumventing the trash pile. Craftsladies like these are a great asset to any neighborhood and we are happy to have her in town. If you cannot visit her brick and mortar shop check out her Etsy and help her save the pianos!
Contact info: Marta Hansen
395 E. Main Street Sun Prairie, WI 53590