Ornate flute maker of the week

John Lunn’s art tells a story

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John Lunn crafts ornate flutes in his Newport studio.
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“The Dryad’s Muse,” by John Lunn.

John Lunn's ornate flute, "The Dryad's Kiss," is the centerpiece of the "Music From Our Hands" exhibit. We caught up with Lunn and asked him a few questions about his craft.

There can't be many ornate flutemakers out there. How did you get into the field?

There are no other flutemakers that make them like I do. Perhaps there never were.

I apprenticed as a flutemaker 35 years ago and have been developing the flute as an artform ever since. I started making my own flutes in 1989 and wanted to make the flute look like an organic leafy naturally flowering work in silver and have been evolving the concept ever since.

Twenty years later, I perfected that design in "the Dryad's Touch," an 18k green gold flute. So, I moved on to trying to tell stories on the flute. I imagine the flute as the ultimate fulfilled work of art encompassing story telling, music and sculpture all in one.

Which of the materials is the most difficult to work with and why?

Silver is wonderful to work with. It molds and bends and gives. Gold is harder and requires more work, but the results are equally rewarding. They are both great to see the results in. I'm blessed to work in such special materials all my life.

Ever been commissioned to make a custom flute that tells an interesting story (aside from those already in your repertoire)?

I have chosen all the stories that my flutes tell. The Choctaw Indian legend of the Wind Horse is a great story that I retold last year. So is the history of jazz. I'm fascinated by particle physics and string theory and wonder if there is any way to explain the universe in a flute. Right now I'm working on the story of Cassiopeia and Andromeda and the Medusa's head.

You're also an author. What's your favorite way to tell a story: book or flute?

Stories are made for words. Telling them in pictures is difficult. As a novelist, I can share deep characters, complex plot and ideas. The Lunn flute is a sculpture, and telling a story in sculplture creates much room for interpretation if there is no description to go with it.

Any other outlets for your creativity?

I make stop-motion animation, do live online author visits to students all over the world, make pet and human cameo jewelry images in silver. You can find the scope of the stuff I do on my website at johnlunn.com.

Related

‘Music From Our Hands’

The Insider visited the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen gallery and took in its current exhibit of handmade musical instruments. Come along with us! 0

February 21, 2012

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