Handcrafted Ceramic Djembes, Doumbeks, Shamanic Hoop Drums, and Percussion Bottles by Hawkdancing
Not all drums are wooden! I began making these clay drums 30 years ago, hand thrown and sculpted of high fire stoneware. The finest materials, hides, and techniques are used in their assembly. Pottery drums have the full range of sound: booming base, sharp slaps, and rich full tones. Ceramic drums are exceptionally responsive with the lightest of touches. With the care provided any fine instrument (yes, you can break them!), they offer years of the best percussion! All of these ceramic drums can be made custom with your preference for shape, size, hide type, and decorative imagery.
Djembe is one of the instruments of West African music. My non traditional djembes are made of stoneware. They range from 11-14" in diameter and have the booming sound these drums are known for! Their construction includes; wrapped steel rings, low stretch rope, and choice of hide. Available is African goat hair on, hair off, and Pakistani tie dyed. I often play these with an adjustable conga stand, They can also be worn and played standing in a traditional manner. They are as light or lighter than comparable wooden drums! The sound is comparable with a wooden drum but with the sounds exaggerated. The base is more pronounced, the slaps are very sharp and the tones have a slight ring to them.
Doumbeks come in four main sizes from mini (5" head) to large (9"head). Heads are glued in a press with water resistant glue, trimmed and covered on the edge with a ribbon or cloth strip. Pictured is my 7" plain goat skin, ash glazed doumbek. It is the most popular drum I make and it is the perfect entry into the world of hand drumming! Available heads are plain Goat skin or tie dyed. These drums can be sculpted or decorated and have the classic compressed goblet shape with flaring trumpet for the sharpest cracks and good bass. All include a clay strap attachment at the balance point for adding a cloth strap.
The hoop drums are laced on a stoneware ring shaped like a wheel rim. The shape increases its strength as well as providing a groove for adding an extra tightening lace at the circumference of the drum. They are laced similar to a native drum in ten, twelve, or sixteen hole patterns with polyester rope, and a unique lacing system (below)! They sound more like a bodhran than a native drum. They can be played with hand, single, or double beater. The lacing technique used (tightening laced off center, pulling to a central circle, and then tightening at the perimeter) creates an exceptionally tight hoop drum that remains playable under most conditions and is tunable!! I make many of these with a tie dyed skin.
Percussion bottles are designed after classic African and South American ceramic shapes. They are played by slapping the holes with the palms and tapping fingers on the shell and hole edges. They are a subtle instrument , a 3/8 " microphone hole is provided for amplification. They are very decorative and provide a broad range of sounds. The classic bottle "doink" sound is heard often in contemporary percussion.
While doing a repair on an antique East Indian battle drum, I learned this technique of roping to the edge of a thin skin. It is similar to lacing a dun dun head on with out the use of metal rings.
Folded under the flap of skin on the edge is a length of rope. The pulling ropes puncture through both layers at each rope lope, catching the circumference rope between the skin. *Note: I no longer add this : A light weight skin lacing sews the circumference rope in place using the same holes (plus one hole in between each pair of pulling ropes).
What this means is the ability to grab a thin skin and pull it tightly without tearing! The use of rope allows you to retension the head should it stretch. It may seem simple but it makes a hand laced goat skin hoop drum practical and tunable.
Try the sound of our Stoneware Ceramic Hoop drums for hand playing and you'll never go back to wood! This makes my hoop drums a bit more time consuming to build, but the results are worth it!