The Toilet Shekere

So, you've got that old copper toilet float sitting in the trash parts bin. You could make an ocarina out of it. (Click here to get an idea.) But copper can be hard to work. Instead, get some string,  some cheap beads and get ready to tie a million knots.


The beads I used were cheap plastic ones from a craft store. I used some yellow nylon twine that was in the junk pile. The pattern of knots and beads was copied (by memory) from a real African shekere. It seems that it's better to weave the beads rather loosely than tight. Being loose allows you to play it in a greater variety of ways.

The end of the copper float has a theaded insert, so I epoxied a well fitted bolt to the end of a wide wooden dowel. It was then screwed onto the threaded insert and secured around the joint with Goop to form a handle.

It's simple to play. You can shake it like a maraca, tap the float against your palm, or slide the beads around the float for a ratcheting sound. If you've ever seen a good percussionist play a shekere, you can get a sense of how versatile a rhythm instrument it can be.

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