Sunday, December 27, 2015

Make A Drum......Punk

I realized I had intended to post this in the past but had not so i give it to you now.   the original had pictures they are now saved in the archives so i will edit them in later.

So.... make a drum, punk!
A Short Demonstration In Printed Format By Ted Damman

Some people have said that the oldest instrument after the human voice is the drum. The ShiJing mentions drums used for ritual use in China some time around the 10th century BCE. The Rig Veda mentions drums used as military signals in the 1 6th Century BCE. Without doubt the drum is far older than printed record. Do you want to insert yourself into this historical tradition? Then by all means pursue this end. Do try to read this article all the way to the end to get the full grasp of what is important. I will put a materiel list at the end as a way of summary. You will need some experience working with ceramics in order to build this. I will use terms that may seem foreign to the average reader, so if you are unsure what a term means search for it online in order to educate yourself.
I have had a fondness for the idea of making drums from ceramic materiel’s for a while. I appreciate the flexibility of the medium of clay and have learned much in the process.
I have learned so far that the way I work with clay makes for an abrasive bearing edge and a rope tuned system that may work well for a metal or wood bodied hand drum is problematic. I have found that gluing the head on is the most effective solution for me.
I have experimented with a few alternatives to goatskin for drum heads, calfskin was only a slight improvement. This seems to me not worth the additional cost. Strapping tape with the fibre threads running through it is great for teaching children to build drums but is inferior for any serious attempts at drum construction. There is also a certain drum size where the strapping tape is most effective.
Finally I have found after reading up on building udus that low fire adds resonance due to the clay body being more open. in practice I have found that this is not exactly true even with udus. A Orton cone 6 firing is more effective
than any low firing I have tried with an
added benefit of the richness of glazes

I would like to share what I have discovered so far. I would like to try more experiments in the future and write another article but that is dependent on many factors.
First I like to start with a bowl as a mold to add uniformity, it is important to keep in mind that unless the bowl is absorbent the drum in the mold will not dry as quickly as the part outside the bowl. So try to build a form with an exterior opening as it will help the form dry correctly. I like to sand (250-400 grit) the bowl and apply 2-5 coats of slip to the inside of the bowl to prevent clay from sticking. It is important to apply more coats between one drum and the next being made.
Next using coils build up the sides of the bowl being sure to smooth and compress. I aim for 1 cm walls and scrape a good bit off the outside later. Make sure you build up what will later be the rim of the drum so it is thicker when you are ready to fire
When the body of the drum is the shape you desire let it dry to the point where it is at or just beyond leather hard,
whereupon you can then carve and decorate and smooth what is sticking up outside the bowl.

When you are ready to pull the drum from the bowl have the foam block from an couch or chair cushion ready to set the drum on. Spray the now exposed coils with the vinegar and water mix and smooth and scrape till you feel good about it. Try to make both parts feel uniform. Leave the Inside kinda rough this eliminates unwanted high overtones.
Shape the inside of the bearing edge to curve in a bit
Bisque to ^06 or so
Glaze the outside leaving at least 9cm in order to glue the head onto and fire while it is sitting on the rim side. (Do not Glaze any part of the interior that is not visible when assembled.
When you are ready to install the head find a place where you can leave the drum standing to dry for 48 hrs or so. You need a goatskin head at least 9cm larger than the final rim size. I try to construct so the build size is 9cm smaller and make use of shrinkage. My clay shrinks 9% or so your clay will likely differ. You need hose clamps large enough to encircle the rim and the tool needed to tighten, non waterproof white or wood glue preferably the best within reason, a turntable to set the drum on, and a light damp sponge
First place the head in a 5gal bucket of water or tray so the head is fully immersed.
Set the drum on the turntable and try to get the rim level. Set up the hose clamps and test fit them
Put glue around the edges.
Place the head so it overlaps the shell
Place the clamps over the top and apply even pressure pulling wrinkles out of head before

it is tight.
Place sponge in the center and leave the drum be for 48hrs to dry.
By the time you are done letting the glue dry and have removed the sponge you are probably impatient to play it. hold off for a couple more days. What you can do is remove the hose clamps and trim the weird flap of extra drum head off.
What you need here is a very sharp knife. I keep a paring knife for this but you can use an x- acto knife with a utility blade or whatever you can control. see my picture as it shows my technique.
List of tools.
I will assume that clay, glazes, trimming tools, potters ribs, etc. are already familiar to the reader of this article. If you have no idea what I am talking about stop reading this enter 01 33547043 into the search bar on Amazon. The book that corresponds will start you out right. The more unusual things you will need are:
-Hose clamps to fasten end to end until you have a large enough size. (I use these as trimming tools as well)
-A glazing wheel or lazy susan
-Sharp Knife

-Goat skin drum head of the correct size. -Glue
-Foam pad
-Bowl to use as mold

Slainte, I wish you well in your drum building future.

Post Script: if you want to know how to take care of your drum (you know you do) do a quick search online and find what you need. Though i will recommend these pages. 

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