Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Trip To America Part 5 - Apprentice to Guillermo

I had, since embarking on my flute making journey some years ago, decided that it would be great to spend time with Native makers as well as non Native makers. Earlier this year I met a Native American Man Named Dallen, a friend of Guillermo's, and another man at one of my shows in Sydney, Daniel who both recommended Guillermo. I felt Great Spirit was trying to tell me something as this was seeming coincidental. Then when in the states attending the INAFA convention, I mentioned to my friend Anne, who connected me with Guillermo personally. I called him up and mentioned my experience as a flute maker and my vision, he then welcomed me to visit his workshop outside of Orange County in California and asked if I wanted to apprentice as he had a lot of work to get through, as shows he was doing fortnightly were depleting his stock. Well I jumped at the offer.

I arrived to be greeted by Nash who was one of his many previous apprentices and waited a few days for Guillermo and Chris and his two daughters to return from Washington where they had been doing a high level Art Show Spokane.

After helping them unload their veichle, we got right down to work refinishing most of his stock that had been handled. A light sand and a touch up. Then rested for the next day.
Of some blanks that were ready I started turning them on the lathe to Guillermos specs, then we continued by preparing some Hi D flutes as the had nearly sold out and Guillermo likes to gift them to children who want one But who's parents cant part with the cash.

The property was in a valley which was particularly beautiful besides having abundant bird life and a creek running behind the workshop but had recently been burnt in a bush fire.

Guillermo is a Tarnscan Indian and was born in Mexico but has lived in California since he was 1 year old. He is an amazing multi talented craftsman and artist. Guillermo's flute making journey began over 20 years ago as he re-connected with his native Tarnscan heritage and began making flutes of wood and clay. Guillermo was fortunate to apprentice under master flute maker and player, Xavier Quijas Yxayotl, who unlocked the secrets to these Pre-Hispanic, (Pre-Columbus) instruments for him. Xavier Guillermo, Xavier, and other artists lived together on a rural farm turned into an large art studio. He learned to carve there from another teacher who's name I forgotten.

Guillermo's style of flute making is very unique but has many influences form Mayan and Aztec art.

Guillermo has appeared in two PBS documentaries including his latest effort "Cross Roads", with Robert Tree Cody. He has also played his instruments on 2 NAMMY nominated CD's and his flutes have been heard on 15 other artist' releases. He now collaborates with Hiroki Okano of Japan, and Nigel Shaw of England, collectively known as Bamboo Cedar Oak, and have recorded two albums together. Songs Of Our Grandfathers and their first release self titled bamboo cedar Oak.

Nashteveewa, or Nash for short, is a previous apprentice that Guillermo taught to make all the old Pre Hispanic clay flutes that he used to make, before handing the craft on to Nash. Guillermo now focuses on mainly Northern and some Central American style wooden flutes and drums.

Before firing.
Amazing work Nash. thankyou for the connection and look forward to reconnecting soon.

The Kiln after firing. Nashes clay flutes and ocarinas are some of the highest quality and I highly recomend them. He is also a beautiful and gentle soul with amazing energy.
Some C and Low B Flutes I made with wood gifted to me by Guillermo.
Thank You for your gift. You know I have dreamed of using this wood. Canary Wood, Purple Heart, Paduk, Peruvian Walnut, Wenge, Juniper and Figured Maple.

A batch of drum beaters we made together, I did the sticks on the lathe and helped sew up the heads now Guillermo packs them with buffalo hair and then we wrap them together. Not many do it like this. guillermo's Drums and beaters are some of the best in the world.

Some Lod Drones I made at Guillermo's with gifted wood. Thanks again. I loved the great workshop too.

Flutes I made before I left Australia to sell in the States. Two Queensland Maple and a Australian Rosewood in the centre Inlaid with a mixture Malachite, Chrisicola, Azurite and Calcite. The lower one is inlaid with Sacred Pipestone.

A Dm flute I was working on to gift to a freind.

My worn out hands, the colour is from the oils in the timber and the redness from friction burns from sanding on the lathe. I shrared a few tricks with guillermo like, cork sanding blocks for plane sanding on the lathe ( strangely not available in the states so we made our own) and also showed him a new flute mount system for th head stock (drive) end of the lathe. I loved the fact that he was not so rigid, something he says he's learned over the years. So we were able to teach eachother. We are all teachers and students in life.

The workshop, love the carved condor trusses. Climate controlled workshop inside, dusty and dirty tools under the lean to outsude at end of building.

Guillermo working on the lathe.

Another family of flutes birthing. Getting ready to glue.

Me carving a Peruvian walnut flute.

Blanks I made for Guillermo while he was away.

Guillermo proudly showing two Hawk Little John flutes given to him by Hawk.

One of Guillermo's inlaid drones. A silver set stone is set into the timber.

Guillermo's lovely combination drone. A wonderful masterpiece and totally unique in terms of design. Scott August reviews this flute.

Loon Flutes and Drones.

Loon Flutes.

Horse flute at top left. And a few more of mine below.

Guillermo's Dragon Flute, this Dragon came to him in a dream and the next day he started making the flute. He exhibits this in his showroom, which was also my quarters up on a mezanine in the same room.

Me and Guillermo on my last Day. Thanks Guillermo for all you shared with me and for welcoming me with open arms, I loved spending time with you and your family in your worlds.
I am glad I was able to satisfy your high standards which I have been strongly influenced by. I wish you many more successes and happiness in life. Love you Man. Look forward to reconnecting soon.

If anyone wishes to know more about or wants to buy a Guillermo Martinez Flute then See this Link, or contact me via the email on this page and I'll put directly in contact with him.


Todd said...


Mate this is so so SO classic, here I am up in the loft, reading your blog about your time with Guillermo...oh man, looking at your hands all dirty and oily, and now looking at mine...exactly the same! Too classic. Massive day here, Guillermo is away for two weeks and naturally i'm carving up a storm! Can't wait to show you some pics. This is so great! Thanks Matt! I couldn't have been, and still am, such a help to Guillermo if it wasn't for you.

katty said...

This blog is amazing, I must to say that I love the flute, i think this instrument is very notable, i usually feel very relaxed when i listen a flute. Is absolutely wonderful. Actually I want to learn about how to play this instrument.
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javieth said...

This blog is absolutely outstanding. I Think the sound of the flute is so relaxing that I prefer to listen with growing frequency. Becouse I heard that this sound has a restorate power. Actually when by boyfriend had problem in his sexual performance he decided to buy viagra, i remerber that he listened flute music all the night to stay relaxed and from there everything changed.