Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityMountain Made: Black Mountain company crafts new instruments right here in WNC | WLOS
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Mountain Made: Black Mountain company crafts new instruments right here in WNC

Photo credit: WLOS Staff
Photo credit: WLOS Staff
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It's hard to imagine the process that goes into creating something so tender and beautiful is quite the opposite.

"There's an incredible irony in how much obnoxious noise goes into making such a serene and ethereal instrument," said Mark Garner.

But tens of thousands of hammer strikes go into making the Saraz Handpan, created by Garner in a warehouse in Black Mountain and tuned at his home.

The Saraz, similar to a steel drum turned upside down, is a musical instrument created by Garner in 2012 after purchasing his first handpan.

When he wanted to purchase another, he found it extremely difficult and decided to make his own.

"I kept looking at it for about a week or two and I finally thought how hard can it be to make one of these things and 7 years into it, I can say it's quite difficult and it took quite a few years to really figure out the fine details of how exactly they do work," he said.

The vast majority of the work takes place at a warehouse in Black Mountain with a handful of people.

"It's complicated," said Steve Garner, who affectionately goes by Papa Steve.

He joined the company shortly after his son created it and his engineering background was put to quick use.

"I've learned to shape it properly ahead of time, so that when I'm pressing the note in the wrinkles go where I want them to," he said.

A few others joined the company making it is what it is today.

Mark Garner says it takes about three to four months just to make one, so the demand is always greater than what they can produce.

They make anywhere between 100 and 150 a year for customers around the globe.

"We feel like we make paintbrushes and each customer is the painter, so it's a collaborative force between the two of us to see what's created," said Garner.

One of the more recent Saraz handpans they've created, went to a customer in Norway.

"I often think about what Papa Steve said when he came on early. As a career landsurveyor he said, no one ever wrote me this heart touching letter for staking our their property line or their highway or their sidewalk. It's amazing to have customers that have that much gratitude," said Garner.

The company also pays it forward, sponsoring organizations that focus on musical education, sustainability and ecological preservation, like the Asheville Percussion Festival.

It just celebrated its 7th year.

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"We don't want to just make musical instruments. We want to create inspiration on this planet," said Garner.

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