I offer a wide variety of custom instruments built to the client’s specifications. For many years, commissions have been the only way to purchase instruments.
My focus is providing ceremonial tools built with cultural reverence and a sacred perspective. But I do offer functional instruments not used in ceremony too. Replica instruments or ceremonial tools are also a large part of my commissions.
Materials that can be used to make your instrument include; wood, ceramic/clay, stone, bone, and shell. I’ve been working with all of these materials for many years. Depending on the instrument the materials used can vary, a flute may be made with wood, clay, stone or bone, or a variety of these materials, depending on the project.
Using mainly organic & culturally appropriate materials is a goal for all of my projects. For example, I utilize only African built djembe shells, and try to source all djembe (and other African drums) skins from Africa as well. Morally, I believe honoring the sources of those instruments is very important. Though sometimes problem-solving is necessary for alternative materials when required.
- Drums (frame, djembes, udus, doumbeks, tamborines)
- Duct Flutes (ceramic, wood, bone, stone)
- Pan Flutes (ceramic, stone, wood, bamboo)
- Quena Flutes (wood, ceramic)
- Rattles (rawhide, gourd, ceramic)
- Death Whistles (ceramic)
- Whistles (wood, bone, ceramic)
- Mouth Whistles (stone, bone)
- Singing Vessels “huaca silbado” (ceramic)
- Conch Shell Trumpets (various shells can be used)
- Ceramic Trumpets
- Didgeridoo (bamboo, wood, ceramic)
- Bullroarer aka Rhombus (wood, stone, ceramic)
Japanese style Conch Shell Trumpet (Horagai)
This project was commissioned as a minimalist replica of a Japanese Horagai (conch trumpet). For this project I had to source the shell that would fit the species used for a culturally appropriate direction, I also used a longer wood mouthpiece to replicate the stylistic goal.
The video below is a visual study of the process for this specific project. Showing an overview of the hand made process of creating this custom trumpet.
As you can see, the client wasn’t too focused on a total replication, but wanted to achieve a Horagai style without the full replication. So this wouldn’t be an exact replica of any specific Horagai, but a generalized version of this type of trumpet with a minimalistic style goal.
Bamboo Tongue Drum (mayohuacan/Teponaztli)
These were a group of bamboo tongue drums built to replicate the Mesoamerican Aztec Teponaztli drum, this style of drum can be found throughout Central and South American, and the Caribbean, with other variations found throughout most of the world.
Sourcing the bamboo for this series of drums was complicated. Since purchasing bamboo this size was almost impossible, I chose to source locally and heat cured the pieces, then had to wait 6 months before beginning work. Bamboo require curing time or risks the possibility of splitting, like most woods.
Using a hand drill and fire as my tools of choice, I slowly drilled the areas that needed to be removed and then used fire and a hot metal rod to refine and temper the edges of the tongues. I then darkened areas of the drums for aesthetic purposes.
Indigenous North American Frame Drum
Large frame drum with custom henna crow design. This commissioned project utilized a refurbished drum frame (provided by the client) and deer skin, along with a decorative head design with henna. I prefer henna on drums rather than acrylic paint, since the design is stained into the drum head rather than just painted onto the head. Paint tends to crack or flake after some time on drum heads, so using henna there is no worry of that, actually henna usually darkens over time, and rarely fades on drum skins.
The client specified the type of skin and design direction for the drum decoration, I was given artistic freedom for the design itself and methods used. This was a large 18″ drum, and I was inspired by the natural coloring of the skin to bring out this crow design that was finalized and highlighted with the henna. It seemed the skin had a crow like pattern naturally in it’s coloring, so that was a great alignment to finalize this ceremonial drum.
Ceramic Quena (Chincha Style “replica”)
This Chincha culture style quena flute was made from terracotta clay. The Chincha culture flourished in Peru between 900-1400 C.E., and they later became part of the Incan Empire.
This piece isn’t quite an exact replica, since I only used the Chincha style as inspiration for this flute. There are some variations in size, finger placement, and decorative styling that aren’t exactly like the true Chincha quena’s.
I love this style quena, they are easy to play compared to most wood quena, and they have unique tuning capability, since they are officially a vessel style quena. They can achieve extremely low notes and comparatively high notes, without much practice.
Native American Style Flute (Purpleheart with heart design)
This flute was custom-made for a silent auction benefit locally. This flute was hand made out of purpleheart wood, and had a heart carved into the bottom, and light wood burned accents.
It also had a custom cedar stand.
Large group of frame drums created for a group for therapy uses. Custom-made group of drums with skins provided by the client, each frame was made to fit a multitude of skin sizes, 18 drums total.
I also made the exact number of drum mallets for this group of drums. The skins were a bit thinner than I would prefer for frame drums, but the client provided them, so I completed the commission.
Sizes ranged from 8″-22″ with custom cedar frames.
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