Drum Birthing

large alpaca rug with Altar in the middle

large alpaca rug with Altar in the middle

On Sunday I spend the day in Avebury. Leaving early by cab (my ride had cancelled!) I spend a good half hour on my own by the beeches before Adam arrived. I love the silent moments before people start to arrive. sitting with the crows (and sometimes sheep too) there is a peace amongst the stones that you can’t find in other places.

The rug in the above picture is the one I have spend restoring for the past month and a half. the leather had dried out so much it was almost parchment resulting in some unpleasant rips and tears! Many nights I had it spread over t he dining room table rubbing leather cream into the back until the pieces felt soft and smooth. then stitch by stitch each rip was carefully sewn up by hand. I unrolled it with mixed feeling on Sunday. Satisfaction for having finished it but also a tinge of sadness as I had enjoyed working on it very much.

We started the day with tea (obviously!) and followed it with a drumming journey. once finished we got to choose our hides, or perhaps I should say we picked up the hide that was meant for each of us.

Hoop and Hide ready for lacing

Hoop and Hide ready for lacing

My hide, a much larger than I anticipated hide, from a Red deer. Usually Adam has what he refers to as “Avebury deer” (known to most people as Roe deer). We cut our circles of hide, punched the holes and set upon cutting the lacing to lace the hide on the frame and tension it. Lace cutting sounds simple but its hard work! hide is tough and you need a long length of lace to build your drum. After cutting lace you get to stretch it. outside with the lace around the tree and the maker using their body into something akin to a trust fall.

Adam cutting more lace

Adam cutting more lace

Lacing the drum and slowly tensioning it,  bit by bit, was next.  Experience helps for this and I handed the last round of tensioning over to Adam who has made many many drums. Once I had laced the drum and before tensioning I had maybe 10 centimetres of lace left over. After tensioning I had several feet. Enough to bind a bulky handle around the cross laces.

Laced hoop

Laced hoop

The drum is hanging up to dry in my utility room, the coldest room in the house, and I can’t wait to take her up somewhere peaceful and play her for the first time. I will update this post with a picture once she is fully dry. The hide was so large that there was enough to build a second drum and a large rattle. Both are in the process of being made still!

I have done several workshops with Adam and as per usual there is the right mix of sacred and silly. Space to be you and relax. He puts you at ease and walks you through the process step by step. If ever you want to build a drum and you are anywhere near Avebury, I can highly recommend going to one of Adams workshops.

He doesn’t have a site (yet!) but can be found on his Facebook group  here.

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