Making a Drum

The finished drum

Making a drum had been coming alive in me for nearly a year and I was grateful to be introduced to Ros Simons who runs drum making workshops for complete beginners like me.
Each animal and each skin has a different quality and energy and I was touched by how Ros listened and tuned into the spirit of the drum I felt was calling to be created. From this resonance we carefully chose the skin and the work began.

The Reindeer Skin

The skin came from a reindeer and I felt very reverential as I cut out the circle for the drum and then an unbroken length of lacing before soaking them both overnight.

Skin before soaking

Shown here with the birch frame and the iron ring that will be bound with suede leather. The frame I stained to a soft grey on the inside and on the outside I wrote some words of gratitude that rose in me as I worked. This felt appropriate to the spirit of the making.

Soaking skin

The skin after being soaked overnight in the water enriched with flowers and herbs had plumped up and had become much thicker and looked not unlike overcooked pasta!

The soaked skin

Securing the iron ring

Securing the iron ring so that it stayed high on the frame was harder than it looked and I was grateful for Ros’s patience and expertise.

Punching holes in the wet skin

Punching holes at regular intervals around the edge of the skin for the lacing to go through was the kind of precision work I love.

Lacing the skin to the frame

Twisting the skin lacing as I thread through the punched holes, whilst keeping the tension even as I work my way around. This is at the heart of ‘getting it right’ and the concentration needed to simultaneously keep the skin central to the iron hoop and the wooden frame was both exciting and challenging!.

Almost finished

The drum almost complete, just the central cross that is a hand hold remains to be put in place and this I can embellish further at a later time.

Now to dry

Now the difficult part, waiting for her to dry for at least 7 days. The importance here is to manage the rate of drying; if she dries too fast the skin may not release its full sound potential. And being a hot week I spray water twice a day to try and slow the process. My fingers are itching to play but I just stroke her daily instead. I notice how attached I am to this new drum that now lives in my home,


Now dry

Finally dry and we can play, the sound that fills the barn where I live is deep, powerful and resonant. I have great joy in my heart as she talks for the first time and the knowing that this is the first of many drums waiting to be birthed.

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