Instrument Inspiration

Inspiration for Luna’s Tapa Ukulele

The design for Luna’s TAPA ukulele was based on traditional Tapa Cloth of the pacific islands and executed by Alex Morgan, our UK artist in residence.

Tapa cloth (or simply tapa) is a bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) on the islands of the pacific ocean. In Hawaii it is called Kapa. It was originally made from the bark of the Dye-fig (Ficus tinctoria) and other native species until the mulberry was introduced from S.E. asia during early migration voyages.

In the South Pacific, women traditionally scraped out the inner bark of the mulberry tree and patiently spend hours beating the bark to make a beautiful eco-textile called tapa. Paper-like in texture, the fabric is colored with natural dyes and painted with tribal designs and then used as for clothing, room dividers, blankets, wall-hangings, and wedding and ceremonial costumes. Native cultures in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and other Polynesian islands still hand make the cloth and use it in their everyday life, and some designers now are even using the textile to create more traditional clothing.

Tapa can be painted, decorated by rubbing, stamping, stenciling, smoking or dyeing. Natural dyes and paints are made from plants (mangrove, blood tree, candlenut, lipstick tree, turmeric root, banana to name a few). Traditional colors are brown, red and black though brighter colors are also used. The traditional design elements used in decoration are typically plant or animal motifs or other images from island life. The fabric is stiff like paper. Although durable under normal conditions, it loses stability when wet.

Although methods vary amongst islands, here is a Hawaiian video that does a good job of quickly explaining the tedious process of creating tapa/kapa.

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This Tahitian video (with much wilder music!) shows the process in real time which is amazing to behold.
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The photos below are taken from an article on eco-fabrics (www.ecouterre.com) They are meant to give just a glimpse of this complex and amazing tradition.





Instrument Inspiration

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The Henna “Paradise” Guitar

HENPARSPR_shrpnd
The henna design for the Henna Paradise was executed by U.K. Henna artist Alex Morgan especially for Luna Guitars and is based on The Conference of the Birds, one of the great works of world literature by Farid ud-Din Attar. In it, Attar explores the nature of the spiritual path through an allegory of a rich tapestry of birds. They fly like a magic carpet of exuberant color in search of their “king”, a mythical peacock-like bird known as the great Simorgh who has dropped a golden feather.

They travel through the peaks of exultation and the valleys of despair. One by one, different birds drop out of the journey, each unable to endure and offering an excuse.
Eventually only thirty birds remain as they finally arrive in the land of Simorgh — all they see there are each other and the reflection of the thirty birds in a lake — not the mythical Simorgh. The thirty birds seeking the Simorgh realise that Simorgh is nothing more than their own reflection….they are all “Kings”.

The main elements of the story can be found on the front of the Paradise. The Simorgh can be seen on the lower bout of the Paradise guitar.
simorge

One of its dropped feathers grace the headstock while two others can be found beneath the sound hole and tucked under the bridge.
Feather Headstock

bridge feather

The birds on the journey to find the fabled Simorgh are hidden in the henna design…you can see hints of their bodies, heads and wings if you look closely.
Birds

In one of the many folk tales that have sprung around this folk tale, a hero rescues Simurgh’s off-springs by killing a snake that is crawling up the tree to feed upon them and is granted 3 feathers with which to call for help. The snake is an enemy of the Simurg and can be clearly seen on the upper bout of the guitar under the sound hole.
snake

Attar was the predecessor of the great Persian Sufi poet Jalalludin Rumi, who borrowed Attar’s technique of weaving wisdom within entertaining and amusing tales.
Coleman Barks, one of America’s most favorite Rumi translators, has this to say about Attar:

“Attar, along with Chaucer and Dante, is a great genius of community and how that involves the path toward enlightenment. We are these bird-beings searching for the source of what we are together.”
conference_of_the_birds

What a lovely thought!

Peace,

Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

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The Zen Guitar

I was studying Tai Chi and learning a “Bagua” warmup routine when the idea of the Zen guitar came to me. Zen is, by it’s very nature, hard to talk about…..like the proverbial finger pointing beyond itself to the moon. It is a state of no-mind in which thought, emotions, and expectations do not matter.

OCLZEN copy

NECK INSPIRATION

Zen

The calligraphy on the neck was inspired by Zen calligraphy. Truly skillful Zen calligraphy is not the product of intense “practice”; rather, it is best achieved as the product of the “no-mind” state, a high level of spirituality, and a heart free of disturbances. It is based on the principles of Zen Buddhism, which stresses a connection to the spiritual rather than the physical. The characters on the neck symbolize Wisdom, Beauty, Truth, Courage, Grace, Peace and Love. Calligraphy ensconced on the heel cap translates Light.

OCLZEN neck

SOUND HOLE INSPIRATION

Pakua

Even more ancient than Tai Chi, the circle walking techniques of Bagua were developed over four thousand years ago in Taoist monasteries as a health and meditation art. The techniques open up the possibilities of the mind to achieve stillness and clarity; generate a strong, healthly, disease-free body; and, perhaps more importantly, maintain internal balance while either your inner world or the events of the external world of the external world are rapidly changing.

The Bagua, literally “eight symbols”, is a fundamental philosophical concept in ancient China. It is generally represented with an octagonal diagram with one trigram on each side. The concept of Bagua is applied not only to I Ching and Chinese Taoist thought, but is also used in other streams of Chinese culture, such as Feng Shui, martial arts and navigation.

OCLZEN sound hole

I came across a very interesting article on using the Bagua as it relates to the guitar. The first section gives an introduction to the Bagua, and the second launches into some innovative ways to explore the guitar as 8 different instruments based on the system. For those of you so inclined, have fun!

Last, but not least…..someone turned me onto a very cool interactive website on Zen. Definitely worth exploring!!!!! The inscrutable picture below is from the landing page.

monkwfly

Peace,
Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

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Fantasie Series ~ “Lady of Shalott”

The Lady of Shalott by Joh Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse

Luna's Fantasie series "Lady of Shalott"

Luna's Fantasie series "Lady of Shalott"

Few images have captured the mystique of Camelot more brilliantly than John Waterhouse’s Lady of Shalott.

Waterhouse’s art was inspired by a poem of the same name by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892). The poem was particularly popular amongst artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who shared Tennyson’s interest in Arthuriana; several of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood made paintings based on episodes from the poem.

Here are some other artistic interpretations of Tennyson’s poem by Pre-Raphaelite artists.

Lady of Shalott by Daniel Gabriel Rossetti

Lady of Shalott by Daniel Gabriel Rossetti

Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse

Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse

Lady of Shalott by John Grimshaw

Lady of Shalott by John Grimshaw

Lady of Shalott by Sidney Meteyard

Lady of Shalott by Sidney Meteyard

Lady of Shalott by Donato Gianola

Lady of Shalott by Donato Gianola

Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse

Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse

Lady of Shalott by Holman Hunt

Lady of Shalott by Holman Hunt

Lady of Shalott by W.E Britten

Lady of Shalott by W.E Britten

Enjoy Loreena McKennitt’s haunting performance of Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott.

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Peace, Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

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Incendiary Instruments

Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire

In my post of Sept 2, I wrote about Polynesian body ornamentation that was the inspiration for two of our new Luna ukes pictured above. I used this picture to showcase them because of the obvious juxtaposition of body and instrument ornamentation but I mostly used it because of my fascination with fire dancing. Have I mentioned that incendiary is my favorite word?

This post actually has nothing to do with ukes other than a lame attempt to tie in fire dancing. The element of fire has existed as a part of tribal dancing for ages. What we think of as firedancing is largely influenced by the Maori people of New Zealand (called poi) and more recently a Hawaiian tradition where the element of fire was added to a traditional knife dance. These two “fire poi” videos are among my favorites! They make me fantasize about having fireballs at the ends of my braids! Enjoy!

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Peace,
Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

deep play
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Luna’s Ukes & the Art of Polynesian Tattoo


In Luna’s tradition of using body ornamentation, we feature designs inspired by Hawaiian tattoos on our Tattoo ukes…..the Tattoo soprano pineapple, concert and tenor and the Honu soprano. Traditional Hawaiian designs were monochromatic, tattooed in black against brown skin. The patterns and layout were strongly geometric and there were many shapes and symbols which represented the natural island world: stones, waves, fish, sharks, turtles, rain, sun, birds.

The pineapple, concert and tenor TATTOO designs are primarily based on waves and sharks teeth which are also echoed as fret markers. The HONU soprano is based on a stylized Hawaiian turtle (honu), a symbol of longevity and endurance rendered in a Polynesian tattoo style. Fret markers on this instrument are also inspired by sharks teeth.

The traditional technique used to execute these tattoos is amazing! And looks amazingly painful! Well worth watching.

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Although styles vary from island to island, here are a few illustrations of traditional polynesian body ornamentation along with some contemporary interpretations.






peace,
yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

Instrument Inspiration

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Luna Landscapes

We are currently working on a short video that will help to define Luna Guitars as a company. I have taken so much of my inspiration from the earth, and so many diverse players from diverse places play Lunas, that showing them in diverse natural settings seemed fitting. Each landscape has a road or path in it as a metaphor for each player’s personal path and musical journey. This is a preview of images.

Enjoy! Peace, Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

Continue Reading »

Instrument Inspiration

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Subliminal Inspiration

In attempting to re-establish my qigong practice, I was going through the journals I kept during my years of classes. And while refreshing myself on the names of some of the basic exercises, I was amazed to realize how much my practice has subconsciously influenced Luna’s Designs. “Swimming Dragon”. “Lotus Opens its Petals”. “White Crane Spreads its Wings”. “Phoenix & Dragon”

Peace, Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

swimming dragon

swimming dragon

lotus opens its petals

lotus opens its petals

white crane spreads its wings

white crane spreads its wings

phoenix and dragon

phoenix and dragon

It’s humbling to recognize that the answer to the question “What inspires you?” could be anything you’ve ever experienced.

Instrument Inspiration
Sacred Space

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David Cook’s Luna – Personal Symbolism

It is important to me that each Luna instrument, whenever possible, have something that personalizes it for a player. The images I choose to use are archetypal symbols and metaphors that stand for intangible concepts….for example, Lotus as “purity”, Dragonflies as “transformation” Celtic knot work as “interconnection”. (I will be dealing with the symbols of each individual instrument in future posts.)
When Luna was invited to produce a guitar for David Cook, this year’s American Idol winner, we were pleased to be able to produce a totally personal image for him.
David had used his white Gibson Les Paul with the initials AC on it throughout the season.

David Cook's Gibson

As Cook told TV Guide, “I have two brothers, Adam and Andrew. So, because of superstition, I put their initials on everything growing up.” His brother Andrew had been the one to originally audition for Idol. David was there in support and when Andrew didn’t make the cut, producers persuaded Cook to tryout and his rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” won him a place in the lineup. His brother Adam, an attorney, was undergoing chemotherapy for his second diagnosis of brain cancer during the finals and was flown in on a medical jet for the Final 7 performance. So the initials AC took on even more special meaning during this time of David’s life.

Using David’s “AC” talisman, Luna added a few more personal layers. The first was artwork inspired by David’s first CD, “Analog Heart”, that David hand drew. The second was the addition of wings to wish David and his family Godspeed.

Original Artwork for David's Luna

Original Artwork

Art on Guitar

Art on Guitar

We had no guarantee that David would play it on the show. I remember being in my kitchen during the finale when I heard ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man”. I initially ran into the living room because my brother Ray used to sing that song in his band Sage and it has always been a favorite of mine. Then I saw David Cook playing with ZZ Top and thought “Wow…how cool is that?” It did not register immediately that he was playing his Luna! It was amazing to see it on my television set when it was literally a concept and a block of wood at Luna’s USA shop three weeks prior to that.

finale

You can see the making of David’s guitar here.

A lot of folks put a lot of love and attention into that guitar. If energy follows intent, and I believe that it does, David’s guitar is brimming with good wishes from Luna.

PS……..DON’T FORGET TO

Instrument Inspiration

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Henna Series – Original Impulse

The inspiration for the Henna Guitars came as a result of studying laser technology.
Looking at things from outside the industry has been a real advantage to me as I have looked at what has been done with curiosity rather than preconception.

I had seen laser used around the sound hole in very traditional ways, and at first focused solely on the quality of laser burn. I asked myself what it reminded me of, and after incubating the question for a while it came to me in an all-at-once moment. It had the quality of Henna body art.
My next question was….can I color outside the lines? Can I move the use of laser from around the sound hole and consider the entire guitar as a “torso” that I could use Henna ornamentation on?


I spent many hours on The Henna Page which is an invaluable resource on everything you would ever want to know about the subject. After asking questions of our acoustic factory about the feasibility of extending the laser design to the entire front, and possibly back and headstock of the guitar, I contacted Catherine Cartwright -Jones, a world renown Henna scholar, about doing a Henna design for Luna. I had tried my hand at it, but decided that authenticity and integrity was vital in pulling off the concept and therefore wanted a Henna artist that understood the flow and process involved in Henna design. Catherine was very gracious but informed me that she was in the middle of her thesis for her PhD in Henna and gave me Alex Morgan‘s contact information as someone who could possibly help me. The rest is history. In the past three years Alex, a Henna and graphic artist in the UK, has done an immaculate job of translating Henna design onto the Henna Paradise guitar, Henna Oasis guitar, Henna Paradise bass, Paz signature bass, and the Sol Henna electric guitar.

I will feature each guitar separately in future posts, but wanted to share the initial
impulse for the Henna series.

To see a Henna artist at work, click here.

Instrument Inspiration

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