The journey drum is art-full; an object whose beauty is a reflection of the goodness of fit of every part, and every part between the parts. The wood, skin and pigments of my deer hide drums are also beautiful because they have spiritual significance. You see that something is going on in the subtlety of the painting with earth pigments, in the pattern and number of thongs, in the details of construction, besides the design and number and pattern. It is this opening into Mystery that touches you; like learning from native elders that because every thing is connected—all the parts matter.
I have drawn from many sacred stories when learning to be a frame drum maker, especially those telling of the women’s drumming traditions in old European goddess cultures. My experience watching First Nations drummers assemble pow wow drums, and hearing Layne Redmond play frame drums, led me into a slow process of detective work to re-member from the ashes of white history, the legacy of women as drum makers and players.
The images on my painted frame drums come from gazing, while in a light trance, at the surface of the frame drum until creatures and beings appear. You see in these paintings on deer hide that I am bringing their images from another reality into this one. My skill is in being true to the appearance they show me, and not to my fine art training.
I build my drum beaters with the same skill and care that I bring to my shaman drums. I gather driftwood from the beach, and create felted drum beaters on these weather-sanded forms. The handle wrapping and trim of deer and elk smoke tan leather will feel old and strong in your hand and you will hear the forces of nature—of storm, fire and snow—giving their voices to the song of your shamanic drumming.
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