A New Dyeing Process with Sami style Shaman Drums

This post has been waiting for me to write it some time now, but it has literally taken me 2 weeks of process to be able to share my newest spirit drum offerings–I am excited can you tell!

Some time ago I wrote a post on dyeing easter eggs using natural ingredients such as onion skins etc, and I titled it “Dyeing Eggs for the Goddess” which got me to thinking and wondering if I could do the same with my drums. Then I saw another blog post on doing just that, and I thought “ok, lets try this!” What really was the catalyst for my inspiration was the discovery of a local frame artist who makes bent cedar frames for drums in the oval/traditional Sami Shaman style, which I have wanted to get my hands on for ages!

Right away we got in touch, and I ordered four to begin with. This was my process of making these drums along with links to my shop where if you feel called, you can own one.

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The first drum I made was using red pigments which I bought at one of my all time favourite local stores called Maiwa, where they sell a plethora of natural pigments and dyes-it is a haven-honestly! of course every time I went down there I had plans to take photos of the shop and every time I got lost in it’s beauty, but I managed to find a few to share.

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Some of the dyes that I brought home were Lac which makes beautiful shades of red and is a red dye extract from the scale insect Laccifer laccais found throughout India, South East Asia, Nepal, Burma, Bhutan and South China. It is found both in the wild and is cultivated., Cochineal which is also an insect and makes a thousand shades of red and purples but needs to be boiled in a special way first, Indigo which makes a rich blue and  is an extract prepared from cultivated plants of Indigofera Tinctoria. Indigo is the only source of blue in the plant world. Cutch, this powder is an extract prepared from steeping the wood of the Acacia Catechu tree in hot water until a syrupy liquid emerges. This is dried and then ground into powder It is common to most parts of India, Burma, Indonesia and Peru and makes orange and brown tones, Henna and Madder  which both are some of the oldest dyestuffs. Madder is frequently used to produce turkey reds, mulberry, orange-red, terra cotta, and in combination with other dyes and dyeing procedures can yield crimson, purple, rust, browns, and near black and a few others which I can’t recall off the top of my head. You might say it was a dyer’s shopping spree!

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Of course I could not write a blog post without mentioning the weather here in Vancouver–because in all my 15 years of living here we have NEVER had a winter like this one! It has been sunny and cold and all together Amazing. This allowed me to go outside and work as if it were still summertime dyeing my drums on the ground without worry that rain would come and wash it all away, of course after soaking my hides I had to crack ice to get at them, but it was worth the cold hands.


I gathered all sorts of leaves from my garden, using bamboo, Japanese maple, and small flowers. Of course the process was messy and my hands got quite covered, but I learned a lot from this one, including a new technique for getting the leaves to show up more and the dye being less runny.  This drum is available for sale “Here”.

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The second one I made, I wanted to capture the essence of plant spirit medicine, and so the flora I chose for this one included herbs from my garden such as fennel, small pieces of oregano and mint as well as rose hips, one last echinacea flower and dried wild rose petals. I wanted this drum to be green and blue so I used Indigo and other ground pigments known to make shades of green, the outcome was amazing, and I managed to capture a single large birch tree leaf which I love, as birch is one of my favourite of the sacred trees. For the beater I gathered together all of my favourite plant medicine offerings, this is what I bring along with me to the forest when harvesting as an offering, and contains wild dried rose petals, lavender, corn meal and dried calendula petals these were scattered into the wool of the beater and woven into it as an eternal offering to the drum as it is played.

It is available for sale Here“.

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For the third drum I wanted to make it is the traditional Sami style of drum, these are the shamans that live in Siberia and the use of drums in their spiritual practise is well documented. Since the oval shape is classic for this kind of drum I knew that essentially it was the patterning on the front and the beater that would make this drum into something special and sacred.

It is available for sale “Here“.

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The last drum I made in this batch was a large 20″ round reindeer hide drum. The hide was brought to Canada for me by a Tuvan shaman friend of mine from Finland. The dye created the beautiful pattern you see here.

It is available for sale “Here”.

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I am sure that there will be more of these in the upcoming months, as I have ordered some even larger oval frames as well as more of the  17″ ones you see here.

Some of you might be happy to know that I take commissions, so if you would like me to make a special one, send me an e-mail and we can chat about what spirit is calling you to have!

*Please know though that my painting skills are pretty simple so if you are dreaming of an intricate design painted on your drum I am not your woman.*

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