Always keen to dive deeper into the singing bowl experience I was intrigued to find a workshop advertised where you spent a long weekend making your own new brass bowl. The people putting on the workshops had many years under their belts both playing and using singing bowls. They even claimed to be able to “fine tune” Tibetan singing bowls for better sound.
Photo 1: Medieval tools that we used in the workshop for shaping the bell metal. Photo 2: Medieval anvil circa 1500, solid metal (iron?) about two feet tall. Photos 3 & 4: My singing bowl partially finished with the sheet metal the original blank was cut from – top and bottom view. Notice the hammer marks. When finished my singing bowl was 3 inches tall by 8 inches in diameter – a good sized Manipuri.
How I made my first (and last) new singing bowl
So off to Hawkwood College in the very progressive old town of Stroud in the English West country I went. The workshop featured an impressive collection of medieval European hand tools and a supply of modern “bell quality” brass sheeting. The photos below on the right are of my singing bowl in process. You can see all the hammer marks, especially on the inside. I was able to work those out some with more hammering and using finer hammers. The sheet of metal is the flat from which I cut a square of bell metal, the upside down photo shows the relationship of my finished rounded shape to the original flat cut.
What I can tell you about the experience was that it really hurt my hands and gave me a tremendous appreciation for the ancient singing bowl makers. I also came away with a nicely shaped singing bowl with a sound I could charitably characterize as interesting. It was fun being with a group of people working away at making a special creation. The workshop leader, Ton Akkermans of the Netherlands does these workshops in various parts of Europe (not that the English consider themselves in Europe, mind you). You have to go there because he is not too keen to schlep that 500 pound anvil here to the US.