Women’s Red Drum Workshop

A while ago I asked Nikiah of Red Moon Keeper if she would organize a drum making workshop for my witchy girlfriends and I and she happily agreed and set to work on getting it organized and today was the day! I was very excited last night, I even got up early this morning! I went with my lovely friends Holly and Saturn who also happen to be apprenticing with me as well as Merina, a local crafty pagan, artist, and shamaness. When we arrived Nikiah crafted a circle of sacred space for us to work within using her own beautiful red drum. She then gave us a brief history as women as drummers throughout time and cultures (for more info see When Women Were Drummers by Layne Redmond) and then told us a beautiful story after which we got started on our drums. After we each picked an elk hide dyed naturally red, we busily got to work weaving the laces in and out of the hide and around the maple drum frames.

There were a few issues with the fatty laces, but we worked through them and pushed on until each of us had laced, tightened, and tied off the lacings for our drums and finally got to look at the beautiful smooth shiny side we’d be playing. Each one was unique in its colours and patterns – some more raspberry red and some more purple. When held up to the light the red elk hide glows like a red moon… how perfect since we were being taught by the Red Moon Keeper!

After we had all finished we took a break for a potluck lunch of all sorts of yummes – lamb dumplings, three kinds of sandwich buns, homemade couscous salad, a huge fruit platter, corn tortillas and humus, and a yummy cinnamon apple cake thingy that was divine. During the mini feast of women I also snuck into the bathroom to take a picture of the dye bath – I couldn’t resist it looked like we’d murdered someone in there and in hindsight I suppose it was the elk who offered up their skin for our drums. After lunch we all made our beaters with wood we had each brought. Holly and I had Rowan and Saturn and Merina had both brought sticks of Willow. Each one was completely unique and we attached trinkets to the beaters as well. In the end everyone went home with a beautiful finished 16″ red drum. Here we are in the image below standing proudly with our new drums and beaters. If you’re local and salivating, Nikiah said she is planning on hosting another Women’s Red Drum Workshop in June and I do highly recommend it – it was both a spiritual and crafty experience! It was so wonderful to work alongside women who not only see the drum as a musical instrument, but as a sacred tool. Now, to wait for it to dry over the next few days so it can be played!

For those interested in Nikiah’s process and the red dye she makes you can learn more about it from her recent blog post on Red Moon Musings


No Responses to “Women’s Red Drum Workshop”

  1. Pombagira says:

    those are some fine fine witchy women.. and red drums.. hmmmm.. *drools*

    *skips about*

  2. I’m super jealous right now LOL!!!!

  3. kim says:

    I’ve been looking & looking for the right drum & know instinctively that I must make my own.

    What a great idea!! Now I’m thinking of finding a local person & arranging a drum workshop.

    Very cool.


  4. Miaerowyn says:

    I agree with Carolina!!!
    These look spectacular!
    Hmmm… too bad I’m only moving out there in July! Will have to see if she will do more drum making sessions! Woot!

  5. drool indeed… Won’t be able to do this in May most likely but perhaps, if she does one in the fall or next year, definitely want to do this.

  6. Now you’ve got me curious about the story she told you! You must expect folklore junkies like myself to prod you about such things :-P

    Those are gorgeous drums, btw! You should convince Saturn to record y’all playing them for use on her show (or record them for use on your show). I’d love to hear how they sound!


  7. Sarah says:

    Thank you all for your comments! It indeed was awesome! It was very hard to part with our drums and hang them up to dry! :D

    Hiya Cory! Ooo I didn’t think of playing them on the shows! A drum would so amazing with certain tales…hmmm. The story was the descent of Inanna with Nikiah’s own twist ;)


  8. Scylla says:

    I’m curious, what dye was used to get such a rich, livid, color? Or, is it a trade secret?

  9. Sarah says:

    She uses homemade beet and pomegranate juices – you can learn more about it here: http://redmoonmusings.com/?p=893

    • Scylla says:

      Wow! With the underworld/otherworld associations of the Pomegranate, they even have a little bit of wortcunning woven in!