Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The art of making a drum beater

I recently finished making a new drum beater, while at the same time beginning a new book by Stephen Harrod Buhner titled Ensouling Language. At first thought one might not expect a connection between making a drum beater and writing nonfiction, but art is art in its essence, no matter what its final form. Buhner writes how all craft must first enter a territory of spirit and lived experience, from which all else will come. The initial design comes from a conversation of feeling with the material, with its invisible essence, and all technique must flow from this core if the piece is to become inhabited by presence.
These drum beaters have presence. My opening conversation is with driftwood, and the essence of driftwood is that it has lost its skin to the sea. All my choices of covering and technique are a response to this essence, to give the wood a skin of art.

Some of my drum beaters are felted with wool from Cortes Island sheep, and fitted onto sticks polished by wind and tide and left along the ocean shore. The lacing and wrappings are made of traditional brain-tanned and smoked elk or deer leather. I name the forces of nature within each beater as I make them, asking that they bring the voices of grass and rain and smoke to join your drum song. The sound bursts from the drum at their glad striking, happy to be wearing such beautiful new skin.

felted drum beater...$80.00
with St Mary's hitching

doeskin beater ...$60.00
with French hitching

contact Kristen at for more information.