I have just completed a commission for Cheltenham Jazz Festival to design and build 250 handmade musical instruments. Each one needed to fit inside a vending machines capsule, for purchase at the festival. Yes, it was as epic a task as it sounds; not least because I was responsible for the concept, management and delivery…as well as checking and maintaining the machines on site.

I developed six different musical instrument designs. It was quite a challenge, given how small they had to be, but the results were pretty playable little things, as demonstrated in the How To video I produced for anyone unsure of what to do with their Ear Candy.

There were three sonic vending machines installed at the festival. One in the VIP lounge, one in the Box Office and this larger one in the public bar area.

As ever, if anything, I over delivered. I even ended up doing the sign-writing for the machines…but despite literally dotting the “i”s, one issue slightly scuppered sales. Somebody decided to issue a new £1 coin. I flagged this early on and took advice on the roll-out schedule but these old machines only provided the option for old or new coins; not both. Sometimes you just have to take a punt…and that aside, things went swimmingly. I received a number of excited tweets and snippets from people enjoying playing the instruments. NICE!

I’d like to give a big shout-out to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival organisers – especially Emily – for sterling project management, assistance and artist care. Top drawer! It really was a lot of fun and I hope it brought joy to those who bought and played them!

Lastly, here is a daft little promo video I did showing me playing four of the instruments together…

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