An unexpected love

The shekere (shay-ke-ray) is a traditional shaker from West Africa made by using a dried, hollowed out gourd, or calabash, and adding the beaded netting on the outside. I started making them in 2016 as a result of helping a percussionist friend and former bandmate in the group Loopin’, Shamou, move from Maine to North Carolina. I had one of his shekeres to return and we got talking about them and how to make them. I thought it would be fun to teach myself how to do the beaded netting. He ended up giving me a half dozen gourds that were ready for beading as he wasn’t going to pack them up and take them to his new home. And the fun began.

I was unexpectedly surprised at how much I enjoy creating these percussion instruments. Each one is different. Even if I start out with a basic plan, it has always changed by the time the shekere is finished.

Beads of all different materials are used: wood, ceramic, glass, seeds, plastic & resin, bone, metal, etc. It all depends on what I find, how soft or loud a sound I’m looking for and the shape and size of the gourd. Sometimes the results are surprising – both positive and negative! They range in size from about 3″ to about 10″.

The photo gallery shows a sampling. Some of these are available for sale. If you see one you like, please inquire through my email. If the one you like has already been taken I can create one that is similar. Prices range generally from $50 to $200 or so. The purchase button is not active yet so please email me.

About 7″. Glass beads
10″ with big wooden beads.
Two views.
Top edge has a burned design
Small 4″ shekere in need of repair
New cord, same seeds