The house has become rattle making, crafting, & creating central, and for the last several days the centre of my entire being has been Knucklebone. For some time now, I’ve taken to naming the rattles I make, and this one, as soon as I knew what I was going to do, which I’ve not before, I called it “Knucklebone”. I think things should have names in order to be somehow alive. But I think in future, I will remember to keep the names secret and unspoken. Because this one was a right pain in my joints, and demanded much blood from several knuckles.
Like all things that test you, they tend to teach you, and I learned a few things.
All the rattles I have made to date have been made of a single handle onto which the rattling parts attached. This one, made for someone with a particular bone and taxidermy bent (my sort of people!), I felt needed to be a bit more of a bone statement piece. It consists of two Bennett’s Wallaby leg bones, sunk either end into a piece of Horizontal Scrub (Anodopetalum biglandulosum). I’ve never worked with Horizontal Scrub before, and I can’t wait to do it again. It was setting the bone into the wood that was a new thing for me, and three bones later, I finally got the technique right. Frustrating, yes, but now I’ve designed a rattle in this way, I really want to do it again, and have already cut a Bennett’s Wallaby hip bone to do something even funkier still with Huon Pine.
I love working both bone and wood handles, and have always noticed how alike they are. My rattles have always been a little bit raw, I like to leave a little bark where I can, I never bleach away the natural staining in the bones. Both materials tell a story, they’re strong, and I love how both feel in the hand. Putting them together in this way brought out all the ways they are completely opposite.
What’s particularly fun for me, is that this rattle is made not for ritual purposes, but musical ones, and makes it way tomorrow to NSW as a gift for someone who, besides a bone bent, has a particular talent on the drums. A little bit outside my regular rattlers, which is, as I said, fun, and I can’t wait to hear what he thinks.
Whilst my work bench is out and my tools remain scattered across the room, I’ll be reworking my own two rattles. I’ve had them a fair few years now, and they get quite a workout from me, replacing strings, and as usual, they have always served as a place I try out new things. Well, for the most part. Except when I’m inspired suddenly for a custom make. Which, honestly, is ill advised. That’s really the hard way to go about it. My first rattle, dedicated to my Dísir, is where all this started for me, and it has changed dramatically over the last 3 years, and about to again. My rattle teacher, dedicated to my Spiritual Teachers. I’ve been inspired by some images online that involve a different technique than I’ve used before. The last few times have been much less permanent designs, and after spending a lot of time focusing on ritual tools for others, it’s time I focused on my own before I use them again.
And then of course, back to it! I currently can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny Hobart Sunday.