Well, the time has come, so they say.
I have never attempted to stretch a skin head on a banjo before, so I am breaking new ground here. All I know about this is what I have read in the papers. But here goes anyway.
The head is made out of rawhide. It is not tanned. Leather must be tanned if it is to remain supple when it is dry. This head is not supple. In fact, it resembles cardboard more than it does leather. Look here where I am holding the head up by the edge:
I will have to soak it in water for a few minutes to make it supple again. Fortunately it just fits in my kitchen sink.
The flatware is there to keep the head under water. It is not part of a magic incantation to make this work. I do not know how long to soak this skin before mounting it. I have read that soaking it too long will cause it to bloat up and be unusable until it dries out again. The instructions say to soak it for 10 to 20 minutes. After about 10 minutes of soaking, the head is flexible again so I take it out to have a go at it.
Ewww! It looks like something dead and flayed from a monster movie. Hey! It is something dead and flayed!
While it is still wet I put it onto the top of the pot.
Then, I put the flesh hoop down over the skin head to hold it in place.
This was actually a rather tight fit. I think that the flesh hoop is just a tad small. Maybe the head has become a bit thicker when it is wet. I did not take that into account. I did manage to push the hoop down over the skin though so maybe it will be OK.
I put the tension hoop down on top of the flesh hoop. Then, following the kit directions, I lifted up the edge of the tension hoop a bit and tucked the edge of the head back up through the tension hoop.
This is a tight fit, but I seem to be able to walk around the hoop gently pulling the head up through a bit at a time. If it is too easy to pull through then it might not stay put for the stretching. So far so good.
Suddenly something let go! It all got loose and came apart. Looking around the back of the pot this is what I found!
The seam up the back of the tension hoop has come apart. I did not think that I was putting a lot of force on it. I was barely pulling on the edge of the head when it popped. But there it is... busted!
Well, I am out of business on this for a while. The joint looks like it has been butt jointed and soldered, and I have no idea how to use silver solder. So I guess I will have to see about getting this hoop fixed or replaced. Dang!
I only spent about a half hour on this because I broke it pretty fast. I wonder if I did something wrong or if the joint was just weak.