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Doumbek Hand Drum

Brandt Womack sculpts clay into a ceramic doumbek hand drum.

Brandt Womack creates a middle-eastern style ceramic hand drum called a doumbek. Doumbek's are commonly heard in belly-dancing music. He combines his ceramic skills with his love of music to make this unique instrument.

Materials and Tools:

potter's wheel
15 pounds of stoneware clay
wooden potters rib
steel turning tool
steel potter's knife
mustard squeeze bottle or pastry bag
slip applicator (rubber bulb with needle tip)
glazes
paintbrushes
air compressor
spray gun for paint
kiln
plastic dry cleaning bags
2 pieces of 3/4" plywood
jigsaw with wood cutting blade
goat hide or leather
carpet tacks
flexible carpenters glue (Gorilla Glue, E6000 craft glue)
10" long 3/4" bolts with washers and nuts
razor blade/utility knife
plastic bag
safety glasses
respirator

Steps:

1. Center seven pounds of clay on the potter's wheel and form a large bowl shape with 1/2-inch thick walls. Cut bowl off the wheel and set aside to dry for one day.

2. Center seven pounds of clay on the potter's wheel and form a cylinder that flares out like a trumpet bell at the top. Cut cylinder off the wheel and set aside to dry for one day.

3. Center the leather-hard cylinder upside down on the wheel and stick to the wheel head with lumps of clay. Use steel turning tools to clean up excess clay and to form the final shape.

4. Center leather-hard bowl upside down on the wheel head and adhere with lumps of clay. Turn excess clay with steel tool. Mark the diameter of the cylinder opening on the bottom of the bowl. Using the steel knife cut out the drum's sound hole while turning the wheel to assure symmetry.

5. Using clay slip (a mixture of clay and water to the consistency of pudding), join the bell (cylinder) of the drum onto the upside down head (bowl shape). Use the wheel to help center the bell onto the drumhead. Let dry for several hours under a plastic bag.

6. Draw a raised tree design with slip applicator for thin lines. Tip: Insert clay slip into a mustard bottle or pastry bag to form thick lines.

7. Let dry slowly under a plastic bag until completely dry, and then fire in kiln to 1800 degrees.

8. Apply glazes using a spray gun or paintbrushes. Let dry over night, and then fire to 2260 degrees.

9. Cut a hole in one piece of plywood slightly larger in diameter than the widest part of drum using the jig saw. Cut a smaller hole in a second piece of plywood large enough to pass over the bell end of the drum stem. Drill four corresponding 3/4-inch holes in the plywood to line up the 10-inch bolts.

10. Soak the goat hide for several hours in warm water until it becomes soft. Nail it to the first piece of plywood using carpet tacks spaced about 1/4 inch apart.

11. Stretch the hide over the top of the drum and attach the bottom piece of plywood to the top one with bolts making sure of the fit. Remove the top piece and spread glue around the rim of drum where you want drumhead to attach. Make sure at least 2-1/2 inches of hide will be glued all the way around.

12. Re-attach the stretching frame over the rim with glue. Slowly tighten bolts one at a time until the hide is tight. Let dry for several days.

13. Remove bolts and cut the head off the frame with a utility knife. Clean up excess glue with a razor blade.

E-mail: brandt@pseudopots.com

Website: www.pseudopots.com

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