Across all time and in every culture, persons of power have traveled to alternate realities on the vibrations of a journey drum.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Purchase a Frame Drum

This drum skin is so delicately patterned with a filigree of designs made by the deer himself, that I have not yet been able to add my painting to its perfection. The deer whose skin became this drum grew up on Cortes Island, probably eating apples from the pioneer orchards that dot my neighborhood and browsing on cedar tips and huckleberry buds. I receive my hides from Island hunters that I know, and whose respect and care when hunting I value. I know the man who shot this animal, and know all parts of the deer’s body became food or went to island artists like myself.
The drum skin is stretched on a 14” ash wood frame. I choose ash wood because of the belief in ancient cultures that the essence of humankind originated from the ash tree. It is the inner and outer worlds linked. The tree was regarded as one of the seasonal guises of the Goddess, associated with thunderstorms which water the earth, and with the birthing season of animals. Especially, it is the Great World Tree from which Odin hung himself to receive illumination through contact with the dead. In myth, it contains the power of the sky and sun gods, and yet its magical abilities have to do with the element of water. These are beautiful bones upon which to stretch a voice calling to Spirit. I float my drum skins around hoops of wood, and fasten these energies together with a cedar ring. Cedars are the Grandmothers and Grandfathers of these northern forests, and it is an honor to gather the withies with songs and gifts to these majestic trees.

My drum beaters are felted with wool from island sheep, and fitted onto driftwood polished by wind and tide and left along the ocean shore. The lacings and wrappings are made of traditional smoke tan elk or deer leather. I name my beaters with the forces of nature that bring their voices to join in your drum song to Spirit.

This drum has been sold.

unpainted 14” frame drum…$250.00

shipping additional

felted drum beater: Fire…$70.00

felted drum beater: Smoke…$90.00

sold separately

If this is your drum—email me at

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Journey Drums

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.