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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Making a felted drumstick

This photo album will show how I make a felted drumstick for my shamanic frame drums. Unwashed wool that has lots of lanolin works best.  This wool is from the Falkland Islands and some of the best I have used.  Maybe it is because the sheep protect themselves from the cold with lots of oil.

 First I card the wool and peel off each section, setting these aside until I have 6-7 lengths with which to form the head.

Next the wool sections are laid over a hardwood dowel that has its ends rounded and is sanded along its length,  At this stage everything looks quite fragile.

As more and more pieces of wool are added and the wool is pressed with my hands, the shape begins to resemble a drumstick, but of something I would like for a special dinner.

Once the wool is shaped, and I can feel that the thickness on the tip and sides is about the same density, I gather a boiling kettle of water, a stone, dish soap, and the drumstick on a old broiler pan.

This is the scary part!.  It seems that all my hard work to shape the wool has disappeared into soap and water. In fact, this is the scary part.  If the wool wraps around itself and folds over, it will felt to itself instead of into the shape I want--making creases and lines in the finished felt.

As soon as I can tolerate the heat, I use my fingers instead of the stone to push the wool into the stick. The hot water causes the wool to shrink, and the liquid soap causes the fibres to slip past each other.

At some point I cut off the bottom length of wool that stretches down the stick as I squeeze.

A nice shape begins to emerge in the soapy hot water.  Getting to this stage takes me about 1 hour and one full kettle of water. 

The last step is rinsing out the soap with cold water and lots of squeezing, not twisting.  As the soap leaves the felt becomes more and more compressed and tightly fitted to the stick.  

The felt and the stick dry for about two days before I use a felting needle to tighten the fibre even more.  I'll make another photo album of how I use leather and sailor's knot patterns to wrap and decorate the center section of the drumstick.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Drum with wolf painting

This new painted shamanic drum from the Journey Oracle has always been called Old Sister, even before I saw who Old Sister was.  A wolf.  So why is a wolf the Old Sister?  What is the symbolic meaning of wolves?

 I understand that wolves are our oldest companions and teachers.  They symbolize the essence of a wild un-tamed spirit. Wolves are highly intelligent, will avoid aggression if possible, and take care of each other with devoted loyalty.  They are a symbol of an intact wholesome relationship with the wild.

So this is our old sister, singing us back to the mystery of our earliest memories, when humans and creatures sang together.

The interlacement pattern on the back of the drum is also an "old sister."  The Pentacle is the most revered of all esoteric symbols,  and in ancient times meant "life" or "health."  The Earth Mother herself gives us the sign of the pentacle in a transversely cut apple core.

This pattern of sailor's whipping combines French hitching with a sinnet design to create a practical and artful way of holding the interwoven stars.  The smoke-tanned leather brings back ancient memories of campfires in the deep woods.

In the voice of this drum Shamanism and the Old Religion are combined to help us find the way back to our wild and spiritual family.

14" frame drum
blacktail deer hide, spruce wood
cedar fittings, smoke tanned leather


shipping additional

If this is your Old Sister, visit my Web Store at or contact Kristen at

Listen to this drum being played with a felted drumstick by clicking on this link: