Native Drum Instructions
"The drum is the Great Spirit's favorite
instrument. That's why we were all given a heartbeat..."
You will need the following
It is recommended to make a drum with a diameter of less than
12''. The depth of the frame is a variable; for a drum of 14''diameter or
so, a depth of 3'' should be sufficient. For larger drums the frame needs
to be deeper. This is partially for the look of the finished drum, but
also to give the hoop more strength: the stretched dry skin will put quite
a strain on the hoop, and may bend it, or at worse implode it. Because of
this it is recommended the that hoop is made of wood of at least 1/8''
Preparing the Skin
~The skin needs to be soaked until it is soft. Use the
bath for this, filled with cold water. The time for this will vary
depending on the type of skin used. Make sure the skin is totally
Just remember, once you get started with the lacing, you cant
stop. If you find you don't have time, you can leave them in the water to
soak (but no longer than over night) or let them dry in an open air place
and when you go back to work on the Drum, re-soak them.
Putting the drum together
~Begin by placing the circle of soaked skin grain side
down on the ground sheet. Place the hoop over it so that the surplus skin
is evenly distributed all around its edge. The skin can now have the lace
put through its holes. When the skin is laced up, the slack of the lace
must be taken up, and the drum skin tightened. Begin this by working the
lace from one end to the other, gently pulling it as you go. By pulling it
thus, you will take up the slack, and stretch the lace itself. If you are
making a double head drum the lacing is different. Its like lacing a shoe.
Take the 2 ends of the rawhide, lace in opposite holes and criss- cross as
you lace. Remember to tighten and pull up the slack as you go. In the
beginning of the threading, leave a hoop at the top, this will be part of
the handle to carrying the Drum. Once you have pulled and tighten the
slack on the double headed drums as much as you can, take the ends of the
rawhide and wrap it around the hoop you made in the beginning of the
lacing. To finish off the handle, knot the lace on the end of the handle
and tuck into the lace it self (as the leather dries, the leather shrinks,
thus making a tight bond)
~Once the slack has been all worked through, begin the
whole process again, and then again, and again, until it feels like you
cannot get any more slack out of the lace. Do not be afraid to pull quite
hard on the lace, but do be careful not to break it, or the holes in the
drum head; especially be careful if you are pulling on a particularly thin
piece of lace.
~at this point, you are done! Place the Drum in a warm, airy
place. Avoid hot places, it will cause the leather to dry too quick. If
your Drum does not dry out evenly, the frame may warp as it dries, and you
will end up with a twisted drum. If you put enough tension into the wet
rawhide, when it dries out, you will have a wonderful resonant drum; if
you didn't, your drum may sound more like a cardboard box. If your brave
enough and want to, you can take apart your drum and start over. The skin
and hoop will be OK, but you will have to cut more lace.
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