In early 2016, we began exploring a third material and forming method. Along with fully hammer shaped shells formed in our shop and rolled shells fabricated by the late Jim Dusin of Pantheon Steel, we began building limited edition Saraz on deep drawn shells fabricated by Shellopan in France. We were perhaps the 15th or 20th Handpan / Pantam drum builder to make instruments on these shells with most other builders that use them currently residing in Europe. We have tremendous respect and gratitude for Shellopan making these shells available to other builders. Along with the spread of knowledge about how to use these shells, it has become much easier for many more people to make handpan drums with a tiny fraction of the amount of time and effort that it took earlier builders to learn this knowledge on their own. We couldn’t be happier to see so many new handpan builders getting started because they are helping to satiate a bit more of the extensive international demand for handpan drums as well as co-creatively pushing the evolution of the artform forward faster than ever before.
The Shellopan deep drawn shell has been an interesting material that has revealed to us a few new insights into the internal structure of the steel. While perhaps the shell’s greatest virtue is eliminating the need to sink a shell, we have found yet again how the initial forming process can dramatically change the nature of the material as well as the tone and timbre of the instrument. The shell offers a bit more inherent ceramic or “Pantam” tone and timbre relative to a fully hammer shaped shell or a rolled shell. The stretch and thickness profile is very appropriate for the traditional handpan layout while the overall shape is nearly perfect. On the Shellopan website Fablab page, they discuss many of the characteristics of the shell as well as compare it to other forming methods such as hammered, spun, rolled, and hydro formed shells while discussing some of the pros and cons of each.
We have a few more Shellopan deep drawn shells in stock and will continue to build limited edition Saraz on them well into 2017 and 2018. Most of those instruments will likely be flash sales on our website.
The following video links are a few of the Saraz that we have made with Shellopan shells in 2016. Big thanks again to Delphine and Matthieu for sharing their developments with the world!