Thursday, June 7, 2018

Preparing a drum making workshop

In drum making, much depends on preparation.  Long before the participants begin to work,  the workshop materials are coming together.

Hides are stirred twice daily for 7 days in a hydrated lime and water bath. 

Frame drum hoops are made weeks in advance as each one is composed of 4 laminated strips of either ash or spruce wood. To allow for proper drying only one strip is glued into place each day. This workshop of eight drums required 32 days for gluing up hoops, not counting the filling and sanding after the hoops were laminated. 

Tools are a big category of preparation.  Scissors, ulus and buck knives, hole punches, and awls are sharpened and gathered.  Rubber gloves, old towels, and aprons are also a high priority.

Creating work stations for removing the hair and flesh from the deerskin involves solving logistical puzzles of space and sturdiness.

This system of sawhorses and PVC half-pipes held in place with wooden brackets makes a successful  "deer hide train" that is ready to for the work to begin.

And once the work begins, so does the excitement of having a new adventure.

Drum making is also hard physical work, with lots of messy moments.

But the payoff is the creation of a beautiful frame drum, made with careful attention to each detail.

The learning goes beyond the physical experience, and becomes a total immersion in quiet concentration.

Thanks to Donna Williams and the Experiential Program at St. Michael's University School in Victoria BC, and to the Gorge Harbour Marina Resort on Cortes Island, for saying Yes to these remarkable six days of traditional drum making in early June.