Musician and carpenter, Jonathan Martin has been designing tongue drums, lamps and lampshades for a year by recycling gas cylinders and fire extinguishers. A unique concept, source of a very original creative universe.
It’s not always easy to do the job of your dreams, even when you have a specific idea in mind. Jonathan Martin wanted to become a luthier. “From college”, he specifies. But when he arrived in high school, he quickly understood that such an orientation would be impossible for him: it would ultimately be a BEP in wood and carpentry, even if Jonathan would also learn the guitar and then the clarinet. “I have always been quite self-taught, both in manual work and in music”, he says. Music and manual work: two facets of his life which now come together in an activity that Jonathan, faithful to himself, has tailor-made for himself.
Before that, this thirty-something said he had a lot “wandered”, exercising various “odd jobs”. “But after a while, I really wanted to do something for myself.” Music had its place there, without Jonathan giving up the pleasure of creating with his own hands. This is where the tongue drum makes its entry. “It is a percussion instrument emitting a very relaxing sound, widely used in music therapy or in yoga classes. I had seen tongue drums at various parties… and I searched the internet for how to make them. “
The first that Jonathan conceives, he gives to his young son. “It really interested him, then I realized that there was demand. Six months later, I was self-employed.” The JM Instruments company thus saw the light of day a year ago, distinguishing itself from the outset by an asserted singularity.
“I make my tongue drums from gas bottles: this recycling aspect suits me totally. I cut the bottle into three but I only keep the top and the bottom, which I weld. It looks like a sort of flying saucer! Then I score the keys on the surface of the instrument. It works by scale, but each tongue drum maker has their own specific note pattern. “ Jonathan evokes “a fairly instinctive instrument, with somewhat hypnotic sounds”, also accessible to “someone who doesn’t know anything about music”. He nevertheless plans, in the future, to add to his tongue drums “a small notebook of first steps”.
But Jonathan does not limit his inventive recycling to the musical sphere alone. Always with gas bottles, to which are added used extinguishers, he also imagines lights and lampshades. “Initially, I set myself a challenge: to make these objects with the scraps of canisters that I did not use for the tongue drums.” Some of his creations were thus assembled from a multitude of slices of different gas cylinders.
“Fire extinguishers are another thing: I can either keep their original shape or hijack them altogether.” Helped by his electrician father, Jonathan also trained in various standards at the chamber of trades. “But a light, in my eyes, is much more than a light bulb that lights up!” The creator is particularly attached to the artistic dimension of his work and it is no coincidence that his Marseillette workshop is readily open to curious visitors. No coincidence either if, since the beginning of the year, its lampshade collections have attracted attention at the Maison des Métiers d’Art de la Cité. “I would like to go even further and participate in fairs or exhibitions, work with other artists …” A way, ultimately, to assert his creations as authentic works of art.