Learn how to make a dumbek or conga drum with materials from your garden shed.
By Andrea Mulder-Slater
Who would have thought that by taking a stroll,
back to the garden shed, by the flag pole,
you would find flower pots all in a pile.
Just looking them over brings on a smile.
For you know, like we know, that all you require
Are carpet tubes and an old rubber tire.
Now you can make your own African drum
Making objects from junk can be oh so much fun. A conga is an African drum traditionally made of hardwood and a cow-skin drum head. A dumbek is a goblet shaped drum from the Middle East. True dumbeks are made from a variety of materials, especially clay and metal – copper, bronze, aluminum. The dumbek has a variety of names, depending on where it is made. In Turkey, a dumbek is called a darbuka, while in Egypt, a dumbek is a tabula. You have most of the materials necessary to make a dumbek or conga drum, right in your own backyard.
What You Need:
- The basics are a carpet tube and a plastic flower pot.
- Cardboard carpet tube (3″ to 4″ in diameter). You can find these at any carpet and flooring store. If you ask, the stores will be happy to give you the tubes that they would otherwise throw away.
- Plastic flower pot. The bottom of the pot should be the same in diameter as the cardboard tube so that when you set the pot on the tube, it fits without overlapping. If your tube is 4″in diameter, the bottom of the pot should also be 4″ in diameter. Generally, a standard 6″ flower pot tapers down to 4″.
- A two-piece plastic embroidery hoop. The hoop should be the same in diameter as the top of your plastic pot so that when you set the hoop on the pot it fits without too much overlapping. If the top of your pot is 6″ in diameter, the hoop should be approximately 6″ in diameter.
- An old inflatable pool toy or heavy gauge plastic. Basically what you need is some sort of material that is strong and flexible. A balloon is too thin. An old beach ball works great. An old rubber tire will work in a pinch.
- One to two inch wide packing or masking tape.
- Paint, paper or fabric to decorate the drum.
What You Do:
- The first step is to cut a tube approximately 12″ long.
- Cut a piece of your beach ball or plastic to size making sure to leave a couple of inches excess for overlapping later.
- Take the embroidery hoop apart, place the cut beach ball over the inner hoop and while stretching (you may need another pair of hands to help you) place the outer hoop over the plastic and inner hoop. This will become your drum head.
- Next, place the “drum head” on top of the plastic flower pot and using packing tape, secure in place.
- Set the plastic flower pot on top of one end of the tube and using packing tape, attach the flower pot to the cardboard tube.
- Finally, decorate your drum using paint, paper or fabric. You might wish to cover up the areas where you used tape by wrapping yarn or jute around your drum.
Photos of a Drum made by reader Stephanie Gore
This is the drum I made from your online instructions. I had to make a few changes; most significantly, I did not use a needlepoint hoop in order to simplify and child-proof it for use by my 2-year old daughter. I attached the beach ball section with rubber bands, then wrapped it with black felt and black macrame cord. I was very excited when I found black felt with sticky backing! I added a little embellishment to the interior of the flower pot with a black felt tip pen and a gold pen. I also used an indelible black ink pen to color over the pink and blue edges of the beach ball that I couldn’t stretch out of sight. The drum took me a little over two hours to make. I had to make a drum for my daughter’s Kindermusik® class and knew I had to try your drum when I saw your adorable sample online. Thank you!