I finally got the chance to make my first drum. My hands are sore, my fingers are cut and nicked, rubbed raw and I smell of wet leather, hemp, and rawhide.
I had cut leather and soaked it, and added into the soaking bowl a rawhide dog toy. I thought the rawhide could be cut into strips and used to lace the drum. After 2 days of waiting, I got the chance to put everything together sitting on the kitchen floor, with my supplies on a pirate towel and my 3 month old in her bouncy seat. I sang to her as I worked, welcoming my drum into life with music, even though she got cranky part way through and needed Daddy cuddles.
I started by wringing out the leather circle, stretching it in my hands in every direction, massaging it, warming it to be ready for my work. I then used scissors to cut apart the rawhide. I tried to thread the rawhide through the holes I had punched into the circumference of the leather, but each strip was too wide/thick, their length was barely long enough to stretch across the drum frame too.
So I set aside the strips, and asked my husband to get me my hemp rope spool.
I soaked a long piece in the bowl of warm water, and tried threading it through a large metal embroidery needle. It didn’t work. I tried slicing the lacing holes bigger with my tools, and was able to start lacing up the skin onto the frame.
I started with the pattern indicated by the online tutorials, but I quickly learned that not all the holes could be used. So I just laced using my intuition, and soon a vague spiderweb pattern emerged. I kept knotting and weaving in more lengths of soaked hemp rope until I reached the end of the holes I could reach. I used some of the rawhide strips to secure the crisscrossed strands in the middle, and created a round handle by knotting and twisting the rawhide.
After using 3 strips of rawhide I called it quits, and hung the drum up on a loop of hemp. I softly touched my drum one last time, and left it to rest and dry. My next step is using a white sage smudge stick to cleanse and bless it, painting the skin, hanging charms on the lacing or frame, and consecrating the drum before I play it for the first time. When I play it for the first time, then I will find out its name.
I also found out that my scissors are remarkably good at slicing into my fingertips, but I didn’t notice that I had spilled blood until I was done. But the sacrifice of these injuries are worth it, knowing that I created my own musical instrument through hard work and following my intuition. Adding my blood to it has only bonded the drum to me more. While I wait for it to dry, I will continue to work on sewing together the bag for my collection and working out what They are saying to me. I also want to make a bag for my drum, but I don’t know exactly how that will look just yet.