Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Simple Gourd Rattle

Hold on to your pants, folks... it's a new post!
After a too-long absence from this blog I've got something new to write about.

I was browsing the PaleoPlanet forum recently when I saw a want ad from a fellow I know looking for an NAC-style gourd rattle.
Not knowing what NAC stood for or exactly what a gourd rattle looked like I turned to Google. Results: NAC stands for Native American Church and I found a bunch of pictures of gourd rattles. After contacting Kevan and letting him know that I'd like a chance at making the rattle for him I took a look through our gourd stash to see if we had the right shape. Turns out we did so I went at it with a saw, rasp, scrapers, sandpaper... all the good stuff we use to turn a gourd into something wonderful.
Gourd rattles have a handle that runs through the gourd so I took a wander through our yard to see what I could find. I came up with a cottonwood branch from the firewood pile that was perfect after some work on it.
The rattles inside the gourd comes from small pebbles collected from ant hills in the desert behind our home. It was actually a bit of a challenge finding ant hills as most of them are closed over to get away from the cold this time of year. But I did find a few and collected likely pebbles from them, leaving a bit of corn meal as a thank you to the ants for sharing their work with me.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the rattle as I was making it but I do have some of the finished gourd rattle.

A very small crack was in the end of the cottonwood handle and I decided to turn it into an element of the overall design. I put a bit of natural pigment in some epoxy and filled the crack with it. After it was cured a bit of sanding blended the epoxy to the surface of the wood. I really like the way it turned out.

The gourd rattles are typically ornamented with bead work, pyrography, paint or stain, and horse tail hair. Kevan and I decided that he would take care of the ornamentation and I'd just do the rattle itself. I was certainly fine with that as my bead work leaves a lot to be desired.
This rattle is in the mail headed to Arizona as I write this post. I hope it gives Kevan as much joy to use it as I got making it.
After making this gourd rattle I have ideas for another one that I may put together in the near future. If I do it I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures of the whole process this time so I can post them here.
Thanks for reading!