Monday, February 27, 2017

Design the back of a frame drum

When I first started making drums, I designed the back of my frame drums using a ring with an open center.  Then I discovered the creative possibilities for filling in the open center from a book by Barbara Walker titled The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects.  I discovered interlacement patterns.

An interlacement pattern is a "gateless" design.  This means that the thong that makes the pattern is all one piece, so there are no knots upon which negative energies can stick. Here is a visual journey to the interlacement patterns I use in the back of my frame drums.

The Pentacle, or 5 pointed star, is made by wrapping every other point of the star as the thong  moves around the design.  I then double the pattern but keep the same thong going by including the wooden ring in the second wrapping.

The Hexagram, or Star of David, is not a true gateless design because two separate thongs are needed to form the triangles.

A solution to this possible loss of magical power is solved in the Magic Hexagram which can be drawn with one line.

The Star of the Seven Sisters was a design used as protection against others penetrating one's secrets.

The Mystic Star looks more complicated to weave than it actually is.   The basic 7 pointed star pattern skips two points to wrap around the third.  This pattern is then repeated on the inside with a separate thong in order to pull the design in toward the center so the outer spaces are easier for the fingers to fit within.

Although I use two designs based on 8, both have their origin in the Octagram.  This motif is unusual because the figure has an even number of points, yet when  the thong is wrapped around every third one, an eight pointed star results.

The interlacement pattern called the Eight-fold Path is also based on the Octagram.  Here the design is made by shifting the thongs that come from the rim of the drum skin into four sets.

This destabilizing tension creates a different level of stability and  balance.

Some of my favorite patterns are created with the number 9.  The Ninefold Goddess is a sign that evokes the divine feminine in mythology and folklore.  This pattern is made by wrapping the thong around every fourth point during its construction.

I have only tied this Sacred 9 pattern once, and cannot now quite figure out how I did it.  The more I examine it, the more complex it becomes.  To make it a gateless design with a continuous thong I included the cedar ring in the wrapping, but how?

These designs based on numbers 5 through 9 are like Oracle cards from a distant time.  They bring protection, call on the Sacred, give aid.   Yet all manner of peculiar patterns and objects can be put inside the ring by applying some creative problem solving. This drum back has a small medicine pouch that the drummer can fill with a special token of the sacred.

This delicate design uses a gusset to hold a stone so that the hole in the center is not covered.

A tiny heart-shaped stone is held in a spider web of thongs whose design seemed to originate in the land of Fairy.

And what is this about?  A pattern of 11 points whose wrapping and finishing is so dense that it defies my memory.  Sometimes Spirit just steps in, takes over, and refuses to offer explanation.