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Haiti's Artisan Roots: Steel drum sculptures

Updated on November 8, 2015

'Noah's Ark' - available at the link below from a trusted company


The Beginning of an Artform

In the 1950s, a Haitian blacksmith by the name of Georges Liautaud spent his long, sultry days banging a chisel with his hammer, making steel crosses for the poor souls buried in Croix-des-Banquets cemetery. At the persistent urging of an American named DeWitt Peters, Liautaud agreed to design intricate and elaborate metal sculptures and the Haitian steel drum art form was born.

Haitian Art is Hand made

The village of Croix-des-Banquets is the birthplace and heart of the Haitian recycled steel drum art culture and walking down any street one can hear the rhythmic sounds of the trade as hammers come into contact with steel chisels. The steel drums arrive daily in the capital port, Port-Au-Prince, and are loaded onto beasts of burden or hand-carts and brought to the artist's shop in Croix-des-Banquet. Oftentimes their home and their shop are one and the same, optimizing the space while eliminating costly overhead associated with maintaining a shop or warehouse.

The art passes from father to son

It has become the custom that a master takes on one to two apprentices and teaches them until they are ready. When the apprentice's work has fully matured, he may branch off and create a name for himself. Today many young men study this honorable trade with the hopes of marrying and raising a family with the skills they have learned.

Haitian steel drum art in Tampa theme park

In recent months and years the Haitian steel drum art movement has been publicized, helping to promote the trade and the artisans who create the work. The Busch Gardens Amusement Park in Tampa, Florida has a special display in place in their cultural souvenir shop to showcase some of the most original and artistic designs. As the world sees more and more of the fascinating steel sculptures demand increases and the art lives on. Even in post-earthquake Haiti, art is alive and thriving, filling people that have no reason to be optimistic, with hope for the future.

S.P. Kelly

Birthplace of the Art


Submit a Comment

  • kuttingxedge profile image

    S.P. Kelly 4 years ago from Just outside of international extradition agreements

    I would be flattered to be counted among your backlinks watergeek! Thanks for reading and good luck with your water art piece.

  • kuttingxedge profile image

    S.P. Kelly 4 years ago from Just outside of international extradition agreements

    Thank you Suzie! Sorry took so long to say so!

  • watergeek profile image

    watergeek 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

    Aah! A fellow apprentice (albeit in a different program). Why am I not surprised I like this hub? I'm in the process of writing one about indigenous art at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival this year. I was particularly looking for water art, and the two Haitian booths were filled with it . . . this very art you discuss here! I'm going to include a link to this hub in mine. Hope that's ok with you.

  • Suzie HQ profile image

    Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    Congrats on the Apprenticeship Program! This is lovely artwork and a true craft born from tradition.

  • kuttingxedge profile image

    S.P. Kelly 5 years ago from Just outside of international extradition agreements

    It was my pleasure! The artisans treat the newly formed sculptures with a coating of rust-preventative, giving it the aged patina.

  • Judith Shaw profile image

    Judith Shaw 5 years ago from New Mexico

    Beautiful work - it really captures the spirit in nature.

  • lpanfil profile image

    lpanfil 5 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

    I love the aged look of the metal. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.