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.