Tuesday, January 3, 2012

DIY outdoor percussion instrument

My latest project on the footprint farm is to make Butterfly a "Secret Garden"!  I was going to plant her a "sunflower cubby house" but with the amount of snakes here, I thought it safer to go grander and have more space between walking area and garden :)

This is the view of the garden from the front (obviously the plants are all still very young as they were just planted!) The idea is that the plants will act as "walls" for the garden.  We have planted a green grape vine and a purple grape vine either side of the archway for a delicious living arch!

This is the view fron the other side... we scored the old square bathtub from our neighbour, it will be turned into a pond for frogs to breed in :) (you can get solar powered fountains for ponds!  Eee!) Those logs up the back are also from our neighbour, old bridge sleepers we are making a bench seat out of.

I bought a green and a red bowl from an antique store to make bird baths from (my MIL is a nurse and has witnessed a toddler who was crushed to death by a stone birdbath that the child pulled onto itself... a rare event but enough to warrant me searching for other options!)

In the photo above you may notice an old trampoline frame on its side... that is the frame for our outdoor percussion instrument!  I saw the idea here

To make your own percussion instrument like ours you will need:

An old trampoline frame
All weather rope (its no use if it deteriorates in the sun!)
A bunch of old pots, pans, metal cups, whatever you can find!  Ask your friends and neighbours or raid your local opshop (I just about cleaned mine out!)
Metal spoons for banging
Star pickets
Scissors or secateurs (to cut rope)
Food colouring
Freddo frog
(those last four are for entertaining your toddler while you work!)

First, we lay the tramp on its side...its surprisingly stable as is but we then hammered some star pickets into the ground and secured them to the frame, just to make sure it doesn't fall down on the children!

I lay out my pots and pans in the position I think I will hang them in while Butterfly investigates the flour packet!

Bang bang BANG! I strung the pots and pans in rows, starting from the bottom. 

I got hubby to drill the old spring holes right through so I could tie the rope through them.  I am no good at knots, don't ask me what "type" of knot this is!  Notice the vine, I planted a passionfruit vine in the hopes it will grow and cover the frame to make it look more purrrty!

I tied each item onto the rope so they don't slide around

Viola!  Upcycled percussion instrument! 
I intentionally made it a little "skew iff" to match my personality!  I don't like things to be inch perfect, thats no fun :) 

I tied ropes vertically to support the horizontal ropes holding the "instruments"

After I took this picture I used the leftover rope to tie onto the sides of the trampoline to give the passionfruit vine more places to climb.


This is NOISY!  I'd be wary of putting one in a suburban backyard.  If you do, be considerate of the times your children bash on it (I'd even ask neighbours if they have babies/work night shifts and need quiet at weird hours)

Try to hang your pots and pans in such a way that they won't blow in the wind and hit each other or the tramp frame... unfortunately this was an afterthought for me!  We have WICKED strong wind here and I don't think the neighbours would appreciate incessant banging in a storm :S So I may have to tweak this!

Make the rope as tight as you can, and make sure the "holes" are large... you want to eliminate any risk of strangulation

Try to pick up some coloured items to create an interesting look, and vary the "types" of kitchen implements you find!  This varies the look and sound of each "instrument".  Coloured tin cups would look amazing!  Why not also hang some metal spoons? 

Construction hazards:

Beware sharp metal peices at the back where you drill through!  (Yes you get the benefit of ME bleeding up a storm to let you know these things!)

Rope burn.  Just... owww

Do not construct in the middle of a scorching day.  You DUNCE!

Beware the toddler who is tired of playing with flour and water alone and is creeping up behind you with sticky, goopy hands...

Just let your imagination run wild!  A friend of mine has a round tramp frame and I'm so keen to see how that one turns out! 

(but no quiet!)


  1. ah what are u doing putting that green bowl outside i would have that in my house its awesome. gah bring it here

  2. Ooohh, I love it!!! Fantastic work, you are so creative. Now you have inspired me to do something!!! I want to make a fairy garden too!!!!