How to make pow wow drum sticks

Written by ian burns
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How to make pow wow drum sticks
The drum beat gives the feet the pulse. The drum stick gives the drum the beat. (powwow, 9 image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com)

Native American drummers are the pulse of any powwow or ritual; dancers move to their beats and theirs alone. The Cheyenne Sioux believe their drummers play to the rhythm of the Earth. Traditionally, no two drum sticks are the same, but the Northern and Southern styles of drum stick are two common designs that drummers can customise using their own materials.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Contact cement
  • 47.5 cm (19 inch) tapered rod
  • 60 cm (24 inch) tapered rod
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • 2 pieces of leather, 7.5 by 12.5 cm (3 by 5 inches)
  • Beeswax
  • Glovers needle
  • Nylon thread
  • Fur

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Instructions

    Drum handle

  1. 1

    Spread contact cement over about four inches of the thick end of a tapered rod. Let the cement "dry to tacky," as Loren Woerpel writes in "Making Drumsticks." Use a 47.5 cm (19 inch) rod for Northern style and a 60 cm (24 inch) rod for Southern style.

  2. 2

    Wind yarn over the cement until you have an even covering.

  3. 3

    Spread contact cement over the yarn and let it dry slightly before adding another layer of yarn.

  4. 4

    Repeat this process until the handle is your preferred shape.

  5. 5

    Cut and tie the yarn before applying a final layer of contact cement,

  6. 6

    Cut a handle shape out of a 7.5 by 12.5 cm (3 by 5 inch) piece of leather. The shape should resemble a long cut-out heart with a flat base instead of a point. The cover should fit tightly around the handle.

  7. 7

    Cover the inside of the leather cover with contact cement, let it dry briefly, then fit it over the layers of yarn like you would a hot dog bun. The rounded edge of the leather will be the butt of the beater.

  8. 8

    Wax the nylon thread and use it to tie the cover. Sew a cricket ball stitch using a glovers needle and nylon thread. Start stitching from the bottom of the handle.

    Northern style head

  1. 1

    Wrap the head of the rod with yarn in the same manner as the handle. Start wrapping from the top of the rod. The head wrap should be about 13.7 cm (5 1/2 inches) long and 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter.

  2. 2

    Cut out a head covering made of fur. The pattern of the head covering should look similar to the handle.

  3. 3

    Coat the inside of the covering with contact cement, let it dry briefly, then fit it over the head area.

  4. 4

    Tie the head using a cricket ball stitch. Start stitching from the top of the rod.

    Southern style head

  1. 1

    Wrap the head of the rod with yarn in the same manner as the handle. The head should be about 15 cm (6 inches) long and between 2.5 cm and 3 cm (1 inch and 1 1/4) inches in diameter. Start wrapping from the top of the rod.

  2. 2

    Cut out a head covering made of leather. The head covering should look similar if not identical to the handle covering.

  3. 3

    Fit and tie the head covering in the same manner you would a Northern style drum head.

Tips and warnings

  • When cutting out the shape of your handle, it's best to start bigger than the dimensions of your handle and trim down.

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