IntroductionAn Ipu Heke is a traditional Hawaiian drum. It is made from a pair of gourds. It is used in hula. I built this ipu at a one day workshop held at the Caning Shop in Berkeley, CA.
The Ipu Making Workshop
The building processing is pretty straightforward. The process is detailed in the book How to Make Hawaiian Instruments (see Resources section below). We started with raw gourds. We cleaned them, cut them, scraped the insides and glued them together. We make a cord out of braided fabric to put around the neck. After I brought it home I put a coat of carnauba wax on it to polish and protect it.
It was a very good class. The teacher was an experience ipu maker who definitely has the Hawaiian spirit and was respectful of the fact that he's part of a long oral tradition of ipu making. Almost everyone had a finished ipu by the end of the day.
Often when you "build-it-yourself" it ends up costing you more than if you just bought the item. However, in this case the cost of the workshop was about the same as what you'd pay to buy an ipu.
- The Caning Shop is an incredible place for all your gourd-related needs . They sell gourds, gourd tools, gourd dyes, gourd books, etc.
- The Caning Shop produced a book called How to Make Hawaiian Instruments. It is excellent. It is well written, well researched and very nicely illustrated with full color photos printed on glossy paper. If you have any interest in Hawaiian instruments you should get the book! One chapter in the book describes how to make an ipu-heke. You can just buy the book and make an ipu yourself without any help. However, it is nice to have an experienced teacher around to make "judgement calls" when performing steps such as scraping the gourds.
- The Caning Shop also publishes Making Gourd Musical Instruments and The Complete Book of Gourd Craft. Like How to Make Hawaiian Instruments, they are very well done, high quality books.
- Here is a website that describes how to make an ipu heke
- The Gourd Connection sells ipus and instructional material
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.
4/18/06 - initial version