I met Maestro Manuel Rufino, an elder from the Taino tradition, in 2008.  I became one of his students shortly after and have studied astrology, yoga and other spiritual practices from cultures from around the world with him ever since.

In 2012, I took a drum making workshop that Maestro Manuel was leading.  I had already made a drum at this point but I wanted to get better at tying drums.  He told us how drums can be used to bring the heart into balance and to clear blocked energy.  "The drum is a pharmacy" he told us.  All that we need to heal ourselves is in the drum.  Instead of holding our negative emotions or directing them at someone else, we can release and transform them through the drum.  People through out the ages have used the drum to enter into deep states of meditation. We also talked about how the energy and thoughts that you have while making a drum stay with it.  We learned about the sacred connection between a person and their drum and how it is good not to let others touch it so that connection is not interrupted.

My first drum painting.

My first drum painting.

While people were already done with their drums I was still painting my frame.  Maestro Manuel came to me and saw what I had painting and suggested that I start creating drums for other people.  I was very involved in my freelance design work at the time and couldn't imagine just making drums for people.  I didn't take his advice and stayed with my design work.


In 2015, I created a painting of a blue deer that came to me in a vision.  Maestro Manuel saw it and reminded me of the advice that he had given me years before.  The deer seemed to be calling me into the desert and into the mountains behind it.  I now see that it has been calling me back to my love of painting and telling me to follow and trust the spirit.  When it came time to name this project, Blue Deer Drums made a lot of sense. 

I am very grateful for the blessing of Maestro Manuel to do this work.  It is a joy to make and paint drums knowing that I am creating something that has the power to heal others.