Carving musical instruments out of vegetables is one thing, carving them to play melodies is another thing. The latter was beyond my thinking, until I came across the work of artists, Nan Weidong and Nan Weiping of the Vegetable Orchestra, who work in a narrow apartment in Beijing and make their living by carving instruments from fresh vegetables. As far as eco friendly craft is concerned, we have covered trash art, recycled art and this time we are here with vegetable art. First you carve an instrument, then you play it and finally before it rots, you eat it.
Now, if you think this vegetable art is a child’s play, you are mistaken. This art is as much technical as making real instruments. The most important thing to be considered is the freshness, size and shape of the vegetables to be used. If the water content of the vegetables will be low due to evaporation, then the instrument may even go out of tune. Also, they have to be hard and solid and left over vegetables are of no use.
For obtaining the correct pitch, the depth of the holes is to be cautiously calculated. A deep hole will give you a lower pitch and a shallow one will give a higher pitch. Also different vegetables can be used to suit a particular instrument only. For example, a sweet potato is best for an ocarina, a bamboo shoot for a flute, etc.
If you are wondering how the artist’s have all this knowledge about instruments; then we have a simple answer. Their father was a music teacher, who inculcated the art of playing melodies in them since a young age, and since they dwelled in Central China’s Anhui province, vegetables were available in abundance. They exploited both these to create an all new form of active vegetable art, which has even been fondly covered at various talent shows in China, making them popular.