Nature Poem Drum





May 2012
See my current artwork on Etsy

I cut the head and lacing by hand from a whole horse raw hide to create this 13″ drum, using a handmade (not by me) yellow cedar hoop. I then painted it in acrylics with some very special imagery. When I first moved to Portland, I was immediately drawn to the Columbia River Gorge, a place of steep cliffs and evergreens flanking the great Columbia River. It’s a place that has taught me a lot, not the least of which being sacred poetry. So I painted this drum with the first poem I wrote in those woods, years ago:

“I am a creature of conifers, ferns, and thick green moss
Where the red bones of trees stain the earth like ochre
Where they stand like sentinels, and the ravens quork
Teasing the sun with beaks and eyes,
Where the river dragons leap down the mountainside,
Laughing and splashing and leaving life in their wake.”

A stream, like so many of those splashing down to the river, flows down one side of the drum; a downed tree crosses it, and sword ferns grow near the moss-covered rocks. Moss also carpets the ground at the roots of the Douglas fir tree painted on the right side of the drum. Across the top are two raven feathers painted in black, with a bit of white accenting, and deep purple representing their iridescence, and the sun overhead. The painting has been sealed with several coats of sealant. The pictures do NOT do the painting and the detail justice!

The beater is made from a piece of Douglas fir branch from the Gorge; it has been heat-treated to kill any remaining bugs. To give the most natural appearance I have left the bark on but have not shellacked it; it may shed a tiny bit over time, but the bark is firm overall. The padded head has been wrapped in deerskin and creates an absolutely lovely tone.

Sadly, this drum was stolen along with over $1000 worth of art and books in NE Portland on July 2012 while I was offloading for an art show. While the chances of my recovering it are slim to none, should it ever reappear unscathed I will be incredibly grateful.