djembe zoom

Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
djembefeeling wrote:O.k. guys, now I am interested! What is it that deteriorates the skin after long soaking?

The one instance that was worst in my case, the skin deteriorated so badly that there were some inch wide holes in it. I used to put my skins in a big tub in the garden that was full of rain water, often also had some leaves and stuff in it, just the stuff that gets into a tub in a garden. It wasn't any problem to soak the skins for 3-6 hours, but those 24 hours, yuck.

D.T., what kind of skins require 24 hours of soaking? Are you talking about goat? Because I had thick goat skin, but never required more than 5 hours of soaking.

If the cellular stucture of the skins does not crack, I don't know what really is there that feels so slimy and stinks so bad. My first time of mounting a dunun set it took me three days to get all three duns done. The first overnight skin was fine, the sangban after the second day was uncomfortable, but those two for the duns after three days of soaking were really nasty. They felt slimy and stank so bad that I had the biggest flies I saw in my whole life accompanying my work.

I think a skin can loose a bit of it's fat in water, the warmer the more. And you can see a little film of fat on the water after soaking a skin. But I doubt it's growing after soaking for a longer period of time. Fat and oil don't usually interact with water that much. And how can proteins be set free from the skin if cellular stucture doesn't crack? The proteins are within the cells.

The slimy feeling and the stink, I guess now this is because bacteria settled the skin in big numbers and start to diggest its surface. That would explain all of the experience we collectively had with oversoaking, also that it is useful to change the water once in a while and use clean water to beginn with. I remember the water being heavily chorinated in the US so that might help against bacteria.
That would also explain why prestretching does not result in any of those experiences.

In response to bata: interesting treatment. I learned not to put fat and oils onto a skin, rather play it regularly to put the fat of my hands onto it. When a skin has gotten that dry in the first place, I tend to think it's time has come to be replaced. That improves the sound more effectively, I'd guess.
I look at soaking in the very simple way. Water loosens and softens the skin during first few hours, but after some more time it starts to work as a mild natural solvent and actually starts to destroy and decay the skin. Unless if I would be in some kind of forenzic research team, I don't see any good argument or reason for soaking the skins for prolonged time like few days or even weeks. Few hours to max. a day of soaking will do it's job in most cases.
This is the light brown result after scrubbing off the dried paste. I like this gecko better than the other one because it's smaller and more in proportion with the skin. They actually come in two sizes, and the smaller one is even more decent, but the risk of the color paste blurring under the gauge is bigger since the gaps are smaller.

I am thinking about just drawing the lines with a pencil and then to apply the paste with a small brush.
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I tried another one of the smallest, this time using the gauge or stencil or whatever you call it just to draw the line and fill it with Henna afterwards. This time it looks defined, not blurred. I think I finally found my style, with this rather small and decent tattoo.
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That's a great Gecko pattern Djembefeeling, thanks for sharing those with us. It has a pleasant vibrancy, it stands out and yet blends in as well.
I agree with you, the most recent one is standout, the size suits the drum and the pattern very nicely.
I think the pattern pops more in the small size, and somehow the shapes fool the eye more easily.
Looks good near the rim too, gives form/composition to the drumhead. The round lines suit the circular drumhead.
Nice job carving it into the Ngoni gourd. It really picks it up. The round lines suit the spherical shape of the gourd and curved lines of circular tacks.
Thanks for the kind words. Today was my last day of vacation, and as it appears also the last day of summer here. My embellishment experiments outside on the street come to an end, but today amazon delivered a couple of other Henna colors and I had to try all on this one djembe for better comparison: added to the light brown are indigo blue, red, and yellow. As you can see, yellow is a fail. All colors could be brighter. Perhaps one has to repeat the procedure a couple of times for a more satisfying outcome. But on this djembe you can at least see what you can get.
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On the cow skin of my cheap kora red made a much better impact:
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Wow, those look great! I see what you mean about the yellow, but in a way it's nice, like a shadow.
I think the subtle colors look good.
I like what you did with repeating the gecko, making a pattern around the rim, it's sort of hypnotic.
The orange does show up more on the Kora. I wonder if you did the same proceedure, so the cow skin is more absorbant?
I like the warmth of the pigment, and how being more rich it looks almost alive (when I see it indirectly).

[BTW: It might be helpful clarify that in my last post I used a phrase "stand(s) out" in two different ways, so that might be confusing since German is your first language? (and in this case it's also inelegant writing, but that's another issue)
In the first instance, I meant it in a figurative/metaphorical sense, as in the gecko pattern "stands out" visually from it's background. It's visibly prominent because it's made of individual parts which have contrasting background between them.
In the second instance, referring to how you did the pattern smaller, and near the rim, I meant it in a different sense, because the phrase "stand out" means something unusually good. As in "that's stand out". It can mean other things, but that's how I was using it. Perhaps there's similar phrase in German?
Thanks for pointing that out. I can usually tell the different meanings from the context the words are used in. It's only sometimes that I miss subtleties of the language and get confused.

My procedure for the kora wasn't any different from that on the djembe. But I always mix the Henna with slightly different amounts of water, I think. I still try to find out what works best. Might be the mixture on the kora was more effective, might be that the skin structure better absorbed the colors.
I had my first order of a djembe skin tattoo - yeah! With henna red the coloration needs to be done several times before it is bright enough, though.
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Did some engraving on my favorite djembe, too. Like it :D
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