Had a great time at Darcy's Drum Making Workshop at Divine Clarity today! I opted to use an elk skin on my drum, and asked for an 18 inch frame (over the typical 12/14/16 options). The drum turned out great, and the experience of making one was so incredibly fun that I think i'll be taking the workshop again to make another. All I need to do now is weave some softer leather/fabric through the back strings so that it is easier on my hands while holding it.
The core steps of making the drum were:
- Tools: puck, hole punch, two needle nose pliers, rubber mallet, scissors, spray bottle of water
- Cut skin to approximate shape, about 2 inches bigger than wooden circle
- Soak strings, middle “cord”, and drum skin over night
- Always keep your skins, strings wet!
- Stretch your middle cord, punch a hole in it (test strength), twist it, and thread/knot it so it is about 2/3-1/2 of the drum circumference.
- Stretch your skin (pulling at edges), fold skin in half, hold your finger knuckle at 45 degrees on the corner, and punch a hole through the hide on both sides. Keep repeating this pattern (using the fresh holes you made to keep lining up your skin) until you have 32 holes around the skin.
- Punch a hole (test strength) in your long string (three to four arm lengths?) and thread/knot it through one of your holes coming up and over the wood, looping under the middle hoop, back towards the wood, down into the next hole (counter clockwise), up through the next… rinse/repeat until you come back up through the starting hole.
- Now you keep going around the drum tightening the string as you go. May take three or more passes until you get a good tension, keep your string lined up nicely (no real twists), ensure you are happy with your centering, and stop once you have some solid tension on your middle cord.
- Punch hole in four more strings, thread/knot one on the middle string, twist it, and triple knot it on the opposite side (best with two people and one person pinching the string/knot as the other puts in each knot. Multiply this three more time, but add looping the twisted string at the centre before knotting it on the opposite side.
- Using a soft leather, weave a pattern around crossed strings (in the middle) as a cushion for your hands.
- Trim the strings around the drum to about three inches, let it dry a day and cut them down to 1.5 inches, then after a couple more days, trim them down fairly close.
We made a mallet by:
- Find a stick and cut it off at both ends
- Cut a 1 inch strip of cloth, hot glue it to the end of the stick, roll stick to wrap the rest of the cloth around it, and make sure to push the cloth past the sticks edge to soften them.
- Tie some twine around the cloth
- Put hot glue on the end of the stick and push that into the middle of a square soft leather piece.
- Wrap the leather up and around
- Tie it with twine, then with a string of soft leather
- Decorate soft leather with beads, and even stick some feathers under the twine