A HOBBY has grown into a business for members of a Celtic folk band who have started handcrafting traditional drums.
Alan Collinson and Mark Harmsworth, who are members of Conwy county based The Wee Bag Band, are behind an innovative project to make bodhráns and other frame drums in Tal-y-Bont.
The bodhrán (byddar in Welsh) is the Celtic folk drum of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. And although they use traditional materials they are also using up to date laser technology.
“Mark is a teacher of craft design technology so he has the skills necessary to make the drums, and I’m the drummer in the band so I bring the practical side of how the drums sound to the table,” explained Alan.
And within a few months of the company starting up, it’s received a number of prestigious commissions from some of the world’s leading percussionists and musicians.
“We recently designed and produced special drums for Dame Evelyn Glennie, the world famous deaf percussionist, and in the process constructed what is probably the largest bodhrán in the world,” said Alan.
A self-employed cartographer, his map-making business was hit by the recession so the drum-making has seen a hobby turn into an enterprise.
“I started teaching drumming at corporate gigs and with 200 to 300 people attending we didn’t have enough drums for everyone.
“That’s where we got the idea of making them.
“Last year we went to a few music festivals and sold them there, and that encouraged us to go into business as Dragon Drums and it’s just starting to take off,” explained Alan.
The drums are made in a barn at a farm near Tal-y-Bont and are distinctive because, by laser etching the wooden shell before it is formed, the company can decorate them with a variety of Celtic, Welsh and custom designs.
“It’s customising them which makes them a bit different and because we’re musicians ourselves we work had to make sure they sound good as well,” added Alan.
Conwy Valley firm makes drums for world famous musicians - North Wales Weekly News