Recycled Cup Darbuka {Tutorial}

While traveling this summer in Morocco, we heard a darbuka at the wedding we attended, and saw hundreds while walking through the Fes el Bali.


A darbuka is a drum with a goblet shaped body that is used in various parts of MENA (Middle East and North Africa). The origin comes from the Arabic word “darab” (“to strike”).

They are made from clay or sometimes metal and are played either under the arm or resting on the player’s leg.


We have a miniature clay darbuka at home from other MENA travels and decided to use it as inspiration for a hand made play drum out of cups we had left over from a party.


We had recently been sent this leather studio acrylic paint from Plaid Crafts (as my role as Plaid Ambassador) and couldn’t wait to use it to give our hand made darbuka a weathered look. It’s actually an acrylic paint that you can use on leather or vinyl, which is something I’d never seen before, so we can’t wait to try it on a future project with those platforms.


Today, let’s see how it looks on a darbuka!



Paper cups
Sharpie (fine and ultra fine)
Leather Studio Acrylic Paint
Masking tape
Paper towel

We placed our cups bottom to bottom and taped them together to create a goblet look. (To make this with teens, you can first have them cut off the bottoms with an xacto, then super glue the bottom edges togehter. This gives the drum a deeper sound, but please be careful with those tools and children.)

To make our rounded edge top, we added tape around one end, going lengthwise to cover it completely.

Next we started taping around the cups, starting from the top to cover up all the uneven tape edges left over. Try to stay as even as possible to make the next step easier.

After we had covered both cups, we used the smaller Sharpie to draw lines, following the lines created by the tape.

Using our clay darbuka as inspiration (you can find images online or use ours) my daughter filled designs all over her new musical instrument.

To give it a more weathered look, we gave it a paint wash. First painting it then wiped it off quickly with the paper towel. Now it’s ready for some finger drumming!

To learn more about Arabic musical instruments and their names, check out:

Do you live in Washington state and would like me to come to your elementary school to show kids how to make darbukas, while teaching them about MENA?  Contact me here.


If you enjoyed making this drum, try making an Eid rattle drum. Or stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest for more tutorials that teach about the Arab world.



I am a Libyan American who creates art to promote a positive image of Arab and Islamic culture.