Obsession: an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.

I certainly am.  Maybe not so much with the result, as with an intense puzzling curiosity when trying to figure out how to make a “never before seen thing, ”

This image from Barbara Walker‘s  Women’s Encyclopedia of Symbols and Sacred Objects has fascinated me for years. I have tied many interlacement patterns into the backs of my drums, but I have never figured out how to do this one.  But maybe a good aspect of obsession is that its hard to give up.  And so I don’t.


The whole maze of stars and centre anchor needs to be held firmly, and I know about wooden rings and lacing, so this first step is not too hard.  What makes it hard is that the drum has to dry in this configuration of wide ring and tight loops–so even at the beginning, there is no going back.  I like that.


Kitchen magic is an old Wiccan notion: use the most common and accessible of ingredients, and then serve the potion hidden as a loaf of bread or cup of tea to the witch pricker, as necessary.   So. the kitchen part is a broken freezer lid.


And magic is the result.


I have been reading Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake, and how to get it together has been perhaps the fundamental question for all life since Fungi met Algae and became Lichen.  He did not, however, mention coffee and chocolate, nor binder clips and elastic bands as support staff.


So now comes a great reward, and the next great risk.  Are the central wheel spokes too long?  Is the span required for lacing the stars too wide?  How much tension between the stone ring and the wood ring?  Of course there are no answers.  Only take the next step, and then the next step. and remembering  I agreed to never make a crippled drum, so if it doesn’t work just a little bit–it doesn’t work at all.


The design works.  But as a drum hand-hold not yet.  The thongs feel frail and wiggle against the stone. Nothing is holding the drummer secure and the drum steady.  I wrap the thongs of my drums with sailor’s knotwork.  I love the idea of keeping old hand work alive.  But the half-hitch pattern I typically use is lumpy and ill-fitted to the task.  And then in my knotwork bible: Des Pawson’s Knot Craft, I find the Portuguese sennit.


A truly beautiful solution at its beginning, but what now? I have twenty doeskin ends, and no obvious way to finish.  If you look closely under the raised sennit to the left of the centre one, you may see a knot.  A mistake, I thought.  A knot I tied and then could not undo to try something else. So I have to just go with it.  A mistake that becomes a way forward.


I could not have done this,
except by accepting what I named a mistake.


For me this is the true obsession of art–to understand,
one step at a time–there really are no mistakes.