Thank you, John Millen of Thunderheart Drums..
A quarter of a century ago, feeling a strong affiliation with everything Native American (I still do), I sought out a master drum maker and found him living in a geodesic dome home in the forests on the edge of Baltimore, Maryland. I offered my services as an apprentice if he would teach me/help me make my own drum. He agreed on the condition that I give him 8 Saturdays, 8 hours each day.
While I helped him make other drums, he would help me make mine.
From scratch, each step a week apart: sawing the wood and letting it dry; soaking and shaping the wood; cutting, soaking, and stretching the hide; puncturing the hide in order to sew it; sewing the hide (with more hide) around the wooden frame. Oiling all of it. During each session I would first work on John’s drums, then work on mine. It was an unforgettable and richly rewarding experience. Fifteen years later I painted my drum, following a visit to Taos, New Mexico where I saw in a drum store a few painted drums. These many years later I now live in New Mexico.
When my drum was ready to be played, I solo camped for 3 days and 3 nights on Dragon’s Tooth in the Blue Ridge Mts. of Virginia. For two days and two nights I had the mountaintop all to myself, even though the mountain peak is part of the Appalachian Trail. However, on my third afternoon, while sitting in what I call the eagles aerie, a cupped crag large enough to hold a human, I heard voices rising through the forest canopy. Little did I know those voices were carrying a lesson for me.