Ilana E. Strauss writes: The handpan may look like a Stone Age relic, but it was actually invented about a decade ago by Swiss artists Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer. The two were steelpan makers, and they came up with a new instrument, which they christened the “Hang” meaning “hand” in Bernese German.
Rohner and Schärer formed their company, PANArt, to sell their creations in 2000. Requests started pouring in, and soon they couldn’t meet demand. They received thousands of inquiries annually, but they only made a few hundred instruments each year.
The artists didn’t want to mass-produce their handpans, so they did something novel: They required prospective customers to write hand-written letters. A chosen few were then invited to the PANArt workshop in Switzerland (they had to furnish their own travel expenses), where they bought their instruments in person. While there, buyers learned about the history and use of the Hang, as well as how to care for it. [Continue reading…]