Our Story

December 12th, 2010
2009 Hawai'i Craftsmen's 42nd Annual Juried Exhibition (Ipulele)

2009 Hawai'i Craftsmen's 42nd Annual Juried Exhibition (Ipulele)

–  John (Colly) Norman was born in the late 40’s and grew up in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida.  “When I was 18, hanging around as a teenager in Miami, I had a friend named Skip Ruck whose brother was always in their parents’ garage building guitars.   Though I never met the brother, the idea of building a musical instrument intrigued me throughout the next thirty five years of construction, custom woodworking, aviation, and other creative endeavors.”

Years went by and life happened and eventually Colly moved to Maui in ’93.  In 2002, he saw an ad for an adult education class in ‘ukulele building.  Finally he was ready.  “Wow, I could build a ‘little guitar’!  I was instantly in love with the process and built two ‘ukuleles during the class.  I kept on learning from the internet, books, and any local luthiers who would talk to me.”

One evening Colly was showing one of his ‘ukuleles to Kevin, a musician at the Four Seasons Hotel, who mentioned a world-renowned luthier living at that time on Kauai named Robert Ruck.  “I was dumbstruck! This was Skip’s older brother from forty years ago!  Even though I have never met or spoken to Robert, who is now in Oregon, he has been a great influence and tremendous inspiration to me for over forty years.”

“Five years ago (in 2006) I was lucky enough to be introduced to another well known luthier on Maui, Michael Cone.  Because of his generous mentoring and constructive criticism my ‘ukuleles improved greatly and are now bringing pleasure to musicians, artists, craftsmen, collectors, family and friends.

Mango/Ebony 'ukuleleMahalo nui loa, Michael.”  –

Curly Mango/Ebony ‘Ukulele

Art maui 2011

Schaefer International Gallery

Maui Arts & Cultural Center