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Percussionist offers a chance to make your own drum
At this year's Art in the Square Sept. 18, Olaf Gradin will present a drumming workshop at which attendees can pay to construct and decorate their own African-style drum to take home.

Art in the Square

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 18
Where: Downtown square, Gainesville
How much: Free

Once again, artists will gather on the square in Gainesville to sell their wares at Art in the Square.

But this year, one artist will give others the chance to try their hand at his craft

Olaf Gradin has been building African-style drums for about three years and playing drums for six or seven years. At Art in the Square, planned for Sept. 18, visitors will have their choice between decorating a kid-sized drum for $35, building a medium-sized drum for $65 or trying their hand at a larger drum.

“The idea is that I provide some shells and the materials necessary to put together your drum,” Gradin said. “And these are like African-style drums, so specifically the ashiko and the djembe.”

The drum shells are made of wood and the drum’s head is made of goat hide, which is soaked and stretched before being attached to the shell.

“It’s kind of a laborious process, but it’s one of love and pain, right — blood, sweat and tears,” he said.

Once the drum is constructed, it can be sanded and then decorated with paint, stain or by wood burning. For the kids-sized drums, they are already constructed and can simply be decorated and taken home.

For those making drums, once the head dries, it will tighten and become a fully playable drum.

It takes a good chunk of time to construct, about three hours, Gradin said, so Art in the Square visitors likely will spend time at the workshop, then look around the festival before heading back to pick up their drum once it is dry.

“My wife gave me the idea,” he said. “Initially I was reticent to do it just because it is a lot of work.”

It’s an ambitious plan, but serves two purposes for Gradin — one, he gets to demonstrate his craft, two, he gets to recruit people for the monthly drum circle he leads.

“There are probably a larger number of people that would be interested in getting into drumming and may be reluctant to do it because they don’t have a drum or have just never experienced it yet,” Gradin said.

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