Here are four of the artists, standing with me in front of an 80 inch gong which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest handmade gong in the world.
So how do they make these glorious instruments?
1. Paiste outsources the basic material, receiving a round, flat disk made from an alloy called nickel silver, which contains 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. The disks are pictured below in various sizes on the shelf.
2. They “warm” the disks to create the darkened area around the outside of the gong and in the center of the backside. They simply place the disk on the factory floor and use a gas burner to oxidize the metal.
3. Now, the artists turn the rim using a simple wooden block that is carved to allow the perfect rim shape. One person holds the gong and turns it while the other hammers to make the perfectly formed rim. Of course, they both wear ear plugs!
- Wooden stump used for forming the rim and the hammering routine
- 4. Now, they begin the hammering to tune the gong. This involves two ear-plugged artists as well, with one turning and the other hammering. They are very muscular and accurate with the strikes!
5. Finally, the artists fine tune the gong to a master copy. For example, they’ll take the master Earth Gong and compare it to the newly made Earth to see if the tuning is right. They do this by tapping with hammers and measuring with electonic scopes and tuning forks. Below is the final tuning station in the factory.
6. Ok, one more step…add the gut string for hanging and enter the gongs into inventory so people all over the world can purchase and play them for themselves and others while we all feel the bliss of these finely tuned instruments.