The Life Cycle of a TerraPan

AKA : Why placing an order is an exercise in patience.

Above: Photographed in 2013, this is one of the earliest and largest batches of completed pans we ever collected. They are lined up outside Mannette Musical Instruments in West Virginia.

Each individual pan begins as two flat sheets of steel. The sheets are then prepped and hammered by hand into bowl-like shapes northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Next, the notes are sculpted into place. When multiple pans have reached the sculpting stage of the process, they will be driven about six hours southwest to Alabama, where they are placed within a nitriding chamber. After a week or so there, we will return to Alabama and then drive the nitrided shells to Mannette Musical instruments in West Virginia.

Once the nitrided shells arrive in West Virginia, they are ready to be rough tuned—a time-intensive process which varies according to the other work Mannette’s has planned, as well as according to the life circumstances of the tuners themselves.

After being rough-tuned, the shells then return to TerraTonz’s care. They must be adhered and heated for about a month. At this point, they are given back to the tuners for final blending, another time-intensive process which varies tremendously from batch-to-batch. In many cases, final blending is the final step. However, in some cases, the shells must be re-adhered or the steel breaks—meaning we have to start over at the beginning and/or shift the assignment of our pans.

This process has always been inefficient, costly and frustrating—for us and our clients alike. We have considered and attempted many plans which would allow us to focus on selling only completed inventory. However, our experience has been that these work much better in theory than in practice—for a variety of reasons. While TerraTonz has nonetheless managed to complete and deliver over 400 instruments to artists and healers worldwide, no new pans will enter production. My personal goal is to make sure that all pans in production are completed and paired with their owners, as well as that any client seeking a refund is compensated. More information about these steps follows.