Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 doll part 1

don't think I have ever really documented my doll making projects other than to send occasional updates to the intended recipients, so this will be an attempt to present the process. I decided to make a doll now rather than the more complex doctor's bag mainly due to a temporary lack of bead supplies and funds; I had doll supplies on hand and enjoy making them...its really a series of many small projects that ultimately come together in a final product. Step 1 is thinking about the whole thing, getting motivated and finally getting started! I wish I could say I plan my projects out carefully; some are but most are not (hopefully I will develop better work habits in the near future). At best I can say I decided to make a male doll; the clothes are less elaborate (and less work) than females...I made a nice woman last year so its time for a new project. I vaguely have someone in mind to receive this one but that doesn't really influence how it turns out.

my dolls are now made entirely from deer hide; initially they were cloth, then cloth body with hide head, and now finally all hide. I had a pattern for cutting the hide, but decided to enlarge it a bit and adjust the arms. My original pattern was similar to one found in Whispering Wind, craft annual #3 (1990). Contemporary soft sculpture dolls are getting larger (18-22 inches) and I'm trying to move in that direction.

The hide is a nice deer hide split, probably in the 2-4 oz. range (although a darker shade than I ordinarily use). It was cut and sewn with Nymo thread using a glover's needle, then stuffed with polyfill. The seams are showing but will be covered by clothes...its just too difficult to turn the hide inside out. He stands about 11" tall (the size of a Barbie or old GI Joe) and has small half feet; hopefully this new feature will improve the way the moccasins fit onto the legs. Positioning the arms at his side appears more natural but it will reduce the visual effect of the shirt fringe. This is one of the very few times I have added beaded eyes & mouth, ordinarily they are "no face" dolls which allows the owner to imagine their features. Without hair, clothes or jewelry he looks a bit odd!

Next are the clothes: his shirt will be made from a buttery soft golden colored hide and I've decided to make black leggings for a dramatic contrast. I'll bead strips for his leggings; found black interfacing at Hobby Lobby so I can make very straight thin strips using lazy/lane stitch and then attach them to the hide. Decided on standard central Plains style fringed hide leggings rather than Southern Plain flap or Northern Plains cloth and will use 13/0 beads (in orange, yellow, green & white) and brass spots. The shirt will also have strips on the chest and arms (Northern Plains style) and fringe, as well as horse hair, on the sleeves.

Monday, December 27, 2010


am anxiously waiting for a new OU Press book on contemporary plains doll sculpture; have it pre-ordered and hope to receive in January but in the meantime I've started a new doll.

Have increased the dimensions just a little (new sculptural dolls seem to be 18-25") but mine are still around 12"...not sure yet of his clothing but shirt will be made of golden deer hide and leggings may be black. I generally make only 1 doll per year so I'm out of practice and my fingers ache already! Plan to send this one to a friend in England; his grandfather had been a missionary to a Canadian First Nations community and Justin's dad was born in Canada. Justin is an amazing musician so I want to thank him for years of entertainment!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Upcoming presentation

I've been asked to give a presentation to the Kankakee Valley Historical Society on Tues Nov 8th; since Nov is Native American month I've chose to talk about bead work...will present on pre-European beads, discuss how contact has changed the art form, look at modern expressions and show regional differences. I have a few things for "show & tell" but will try to make a few others; will also set out some beads and encourage everyone to touch & feel (to me bead work is a tactile environment). May hit some thrift stores in search of wooden salad bowls as they make nice displays when filled with pretty beads!I may also try to make a few things, but its been so long I may have forgotten how, plus my supply cabinet is blocked by too much junk...still I think I'll try to start a small rosette tonight. Not sure what else I need until I get into that cabinet

Saturday, September 18, 2010


hard to believe that I haven't done any beadwork in weeks; finishing Connor's cradle involved sewing the fabric so actual beadtime has been a month or almost 2...partly this is due to getting back into a new semester, my need to do research, a bunch of junk is piled in my office and actually blocks the cabinet where all my beads/fabrics/hides etc are stored, and I've been seriously under the weather after some traveling. I see no end in sight to these impediments...

Even though I do beadwork all year long I really think of it as a winter activity, best done on a Saturday while curled up on the couch watching old western movies. I don't really have any specific projects in mind but should eventually get to my new moccasins, could start a few things for xmas gifts, and really should prepare for a class I may be teaching at a local historical society in November.

Sometimes I look thru other people's blogs...seems everyone does scrapbooking, quilting, knitting etc but have found almost no other beading blogs to follow for inspiration....there are a few but they don't seem to post on a regular basis. I suppose I will eventually feel the urge to clear the path to the cabinet and wonder when that will be.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Connor's cradle

finally finished my cradle just in time to take to mom & dad...they seemed happy with it. Need to make the lizard amulet for his umbilical cord but they just moved from London to New York and its in a box on a cargo ship somewhere on the Atlantic so I have time to get it done

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soft cradle for Connor

need to add the inner lining and then a small band of edge roll beading at the very front...and maybe some more hanging things, but its nearly done.
Just received via inter-library loan Candice Greene's article "Soft Cradles of the Central Plains" published in Plains Anthropology (1992) with a nice discussion of the differences between Cheyenne and Lakota cradles and some details on construction (those would have been very handy but I came close; not bad since I had so little info to work from).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cradle status

making good progress on my soft, newborn cradle...finished beading the hood with the exception of a narrow strip of dark red in the front that will be added along with an inner liner; tab is done except to cut the fringe; calico is attached to the hood except for a small opening in the back where the tab slides in; rawhide stiffner is all cut and shaped and will go between the beaded hood and inner lining; last is to finish out the seams on the calico. I had taken the fabric to a local seamstress so she could make a nice clean seam but I picked it up, thinking I could do it myself...I didn't want to cut too much and sew alot of seams so I simply folded the fabric and will cover it with the inner lining (which may be some green fleece I have on hand or I may dig thru the remnant bin at Hobby Lobby).

wod comes that baby and parents are moving back to the States after living abroad for the past few years; mom says not to ship anything to London as they are living out of suitcases. I will personally deliver when I go to NYC for labor Day weekend. The baby will be almost too big by then (new born cradles were used age 0-4 months) but it was unlikely to be used much anyway. I ordered a wampum button as a special touch; the Dutch set up the colony of New Amsterdam to trade east coast clam shell beads (wampum) for furs that came down from Iroquois country via the Hudson River. Later the British pushed the Dutch out and renamed the colony New York. The European movement of wampum into the woodland interior continued for centuries and became an important aspect of economic, social and political relations. These shells were expensive then and now; a single button cost $15 so the little guy only gets 1. The shells are becoming more scarce due to coastal pollution so are even harder to get...

this new development gives me time to work on the lizard amulet for his umbilical cord; hope to have both ready when I go east.

May try out the cradle on a neighbor's baby just to see how it fits; no doubt this will require some lengthy explanation...

Sunday, July 25, 2010


awhile ago I decided I wanted a new pow wow dress but I don't sew and don't have a sewing machine. A friend offered to make it, but then she had a baby and life got busy (plus she has all her own sewing & beading projects). Still I recently bought the fabric: dark green wool with 3 color bands along the edge (known as 3-band wool broadcloth)...I had hope to get saved list stroud cloth but decided it was just too expensive for now ($89 a meter vs $39 a yard for the broadcloth). Heres the image from the pattern (and in green!). And I have been slowly buying up brass sequins for some decoration. I asked another friend to consider making it for me and am waiting for her reply; she made my lovely green dance fan and sews Caddo clothes. I added a link to her webpage if anyone is needing custom made regalia (see bottom right for her link).

Trade cloth dresses replaced hide ones on the plains later than in other areas, but by the reservation years the buffalo were gone and missionary women were offering sewing instructions. For more on native women's sewing circles see

Today many women dance in cloth; it is more affordable than hide and easier to work. It gets hot out west during pow wow season so many have cotton dresses; I hope wool will be better suited to my new life in the Chicago region. I will eventually make my moccasins, a belt with large brass conchos (silver is more common but I think the brass adds an older look and will go nicely with my green fabric), belt bags and all else. Think I discussed this in one of my earliest postings at this time last I am a year older and still don't have my clothes together; time to refocus!!

PS: my friend Tracy has agreed to take on my dress project, says she has wanted to work with this wool fabric, but had not yet had the opportunity and looks forward to making something other than Caddo clothes (which are very lovely and usually purple). We will work out some trade (which I think is more fun than cash money anyway) and I sent her copies of 2 excellent books: "Identity by Design" and "19th Century Plains Indian Dresses" as both are fantastic reference books.

My neighbor (who has a furniture repair shop and more importantly a pick-up truck) gave me a big sheet of plywood recently so I can stretch the hide for my moccasins....its looking like that may be a good project to finally start!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

ball #1

finished my first ball using one seen at the Cowen's auction site for inspiration (simple design until I better understand this process)...turned out ok, looks like a ball anyway. Should be stuffed a bit more but getting it all closed up was more important for now.

white lusters arrived from Noc Bay so its time to stop playing with this ball project and get back to serious cradle business!!

A post script: sent this ball to Tracy's son Phillip (a handsome young man with a foot in the Kiowa/Caddo and non-Indian worlds) who says he loves it so I feel inspired to make another one soon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beaded Balls

for quite some time I have been wanting to work on beaded balls. Now I have the time while I wait for the back ordered white beads needed to complete my soft cradle cover (an email reply from Noc Bay says they may be in late this week or early next week). So to keep myself busy I decided to begin a small ball project; I had posted a question on the Pow wow craft forum and a reply suggested making the cover in 4 sections, then bead & assemble. I found a 4 section ball pattern on the internet, cut some chamois weight deer hide and sewed pretty well. I have now marked out 2 sections on hide (stretched in an embroidery hoop) and am laying down simple singe needle applique lines of 8/0 pony beads in white, dark blue & light blue and will add a small line of red to cover the seams. It looks a bit klunky; have never used ponies before and they seem so big! May try again with seeds for a tighter look.
A search of the web finds a few balls, mainly in auction websites where they bring $100-200 each. These photos of Lakota balls all appear to be made from seed beads and generally date from the 1880s & 1890's, the late Reservation period that saw an explosion of beadwork production. Generally Lakota girls used them in puberty rites, but other native communities made balls for play toys (Naisha girls played with hide and later rag balls). Presumably newly made ones are for collectors to display rather than children's play or girl's initiation. I hate the idea of my things being placed in a curio cabinet and not fully enjoyed so I'll send my 1st one to a friend who has a son, hopefully he can give me some analysis of its use as a toy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Southern Plains blanket strips

Left: a William Soule photo, simply listed as Kiowa-Apache brave, taken at Ft. Sill sometime in the early 1870s. Note the unusually large rosettes on this blanket strip, probably done in white and dark blue beads on hide with sinew, then sewn onto a wool trade blanket. This art form is usually associate with Lakota, Cheyenne and other northern tribes, although blanket strips are also seen in Kiowa ledger art. I don't know of any museum held pieces that are identified as Kiowa-Apache (Naisha); beadwork done by Southern Plains people at this time tends to be less elaborate than northern forms so these may have been valued trade items or gifts from Cheyenne or Arapaho friends/kin.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bead matching

here is a great site for information about vintage beads:

the European hobby folks seem super obsessed with getting all the right colors etc and this is important for museum restoration work as well. There is always controversy in the museum & collector worlds if some thing should be repaired; as a beader I say yes...someone worked hard to make a nice project; missing beads can easily be added (especially if they can be appropriately matched) and it returns the project back to a state of completeness (which was the craft worker's intent). The photo page at this website has a very interesting read on how some of this restoration work is done. I think this would be a very interesting job!

I like the vintage colors, they seem softer...northern folks (Crow etc) use pastels and because of the Crow/Kiowa kinship we see some of these down in Oklahoma too. I don't do much work with the old colors as they are usually a bit more expensive to buy, but I think they would be good for just the right type of project (perhaps a male doll). I should just add 1 or 2 to each order and slowly develop a little pile, saved for special occasions!

I've been thinking of this more as I plan out Ray's blanket strip...old ones were made with pony beads and some new ones are in seed. I don't see much of a price difference, especially when buying in larger quantity such as a kilo (hank=24 strings, kilo=12 hanks). I'm leaning towards 8/0 pony beads and found a William Soule photo of an unidentified Naisha man with blanket taken at Ft Sill sometime in the early 1870's ...I may adapt his strip design which has a white background and most likely a dark blue for contrast. This piece has unusually large rosettes; hard to determine exact dimensions, but the wide strip appears more than 4 inches and the rosettes must be close to 8! Its a remarkable beading effort...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

cradle tab

now that I have run out of white beads for the cradle project I need to think of what to do next...although I have no real instructions, the Whispering Wind article briefly mentions a rawhide stiffener which probably held the heavy beaded section up off the baby's head...(these were used in the other style of cradles too) so I will need to cut and trim and then soak & shape. I also need to bead the square tab (article says this was made from rawhide but I will make mine from buckskin as its easier to bead). Tabs were apparently decorated in a variety of ways including fringe, bells, beads, thimbles, beads etc so this will be fun to make. Not sure if it needs to be rigid and I don't know if it had a function or was merely decorative.
Once I have all the elements completed it shouldn't take too long to assemble them together. I would however prefer to finish all the bead work before I move on to another aspect but I can work around the time delay...

While I wait for the white beads (that have been back ordered) I can also start a lizard amulet for Connor's umbilical I did before I will stuff it with polyfill & sage, then leave it partially open for mom to fill and finish sewing closed.

So there is plenty more to do but its moving along...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bead Jinx

rats...I need more beads! My 1st order for white beads for the cradle project was declined as they were out of stock, with a several week back order, so I substituted lusters. Obviously 2 hanks is not enough so I reordered and now these have been back much for working almost non-stop on this project to get it done quickly!

Its always interesting to see old pieces where bead colors have been substituted (maybe due to damage but more likely due to shortage). I often wonder if the maker was disappointed or did she just accept it as one of those things...

Getting a different batch of beads can be a problem as colors may not always match up...but I'm hoping that luster white will be less of a concern; fortunately I can start a new band with the fresh ones so the change would be less noticed (except by me). But I don't like mistakes in my work and am a bit disappointed by this temporary delay. Hope the baby doesn't grow too fast in the meantime.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

cradle update

Found another example of a soft cradle at the Cowen's auction site...the yellow beads are an unusual color choice for a Cheyenne beader. But they are sunny so maybe she was just going for something bright & cheery!!

I have about 1/2 of my cradle hood beaded; also found a calico at Hobby Lobby with a dragonfly print. The hood will have a square hide tab at the back with a beaded green & blue dragonfly, so the print design is perfect. The honey color will pick up some of the yellow bead color too. Not entirely sure how to sew it all together; wish I had a machine or that someone with sewing skills could help. May take it to my local seamstress as she helped with the last project but she is usually backed up with work and this needs to move along before the baby gets any bigger; guess I'll have to figure it out for myself.

When I saw the dragonfly calico I knew it was perfect! Dragonflies were an important symbol for men on the plains, said to give them speed and the ability to zig-zag from bullets etc. For more on this topic see Ron McCoy's article "When the Spirits Came: The Dragonfly in Cheyenne and Lakota Belief and Art" in American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn 2007.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Soft cradle

am making progress on baby Connor's cradle cover...placed a small order for some 11/0 white seed beads from Noc Bay; they were out of the matt finish so I substituted lusters. While waiting for the order I reworked the large rosette for the top of the hood; had started it but was unhappy with my triangles. I bought a set of plastic guides from the art section at Michaels and it helped to even the design. I like the rosette: a yellow sun/star in a dark green background with red triangles.
Next I attached the rosette to the canvas. The canvas is stretched in a small (11 x 17) Q-Snap quilting frame; it keeps the fabric taught and I can hold it in my lap. This is nice for now but the design area is 9 x 24, so the ends will have to be finished later. I started beading alternating bands of the white lusters and dark green translucent beads; the first lane was a bit unsteady and is a little too crowded, but the subsequent lanes have settled in and its looking good so far. I am enjoying the work and keeping good thoughts going, important for the baby!
Need to consider making a rawhide stiffner and eventually shop for calico fabric; may have enough fleece for the inner lining. Not entirely sure how the cloth body is sewn together; most of the internet photos focus on the hood rather than the calico...I don't have a sewing machine and don't particularly enjoy hand sewing but in the old days it was done by hand and probably never perfect stitches then! But so far its working out and I hope this will continue

Saturday, June 12, 2010

projects, projects...

have been so busy beading the past few weeks...made a graduation gift for a student (hide bag with flower rosette); finished making 10 small bags (hide & canvas) for the Caddo Youth Camp adult volunteer gift sacks and they are all boxed up and ready to ship! Also made a small hide bag with a rosette for a friend who sent me 2 coloring books for my journal article (read my other blog for details) and just started working on a cradle cover for a friend with a new baby. Am making yet another rosette for the top of the hood and ordered beads for the lazy stitch rows...I had given away my new Noc Bay catalog and needed to place a small order to get another one; they have colored Nymo thread (good for edge work) so I picked up 2 more colors along with the beads & white nymo. I like ordering from NB; they are located in Michigan so items arrive quickly and they have a smaller shipping charge (buth they also have a limited selection). In the event I finish the big rosette before those arrive I may start the lizard amulet for the umbilical cord. Note to self: absolutely no more rosettes for a very long time!!

Next up will be either the doctors bag or a blanket strip for a friend who is retiring. I need some serious amount of beads for the large strip and so it may have to wait until after a payday. Have been looking for examples on the internet & discussion, but there isn't much. Read that the older ones used bigger beads (am guessing small sized pony beads) while new ones use seeds. An old issue of Whispering Wind had an article on strips so I may have to order to get more familiar with the project. My friend is not particular on the colors or patterns but most of the older ones were generally limited to blue & white. Technically it won't be difficult: lazy stitch long rows on a canvas backing, add 4 large rosettes and cover the thread with a hide backing. But they are big: 5-6 feet in length and 4-6" wide so it will take time and I'm a bit unsteady with keeping my lazy rows even & straight. Still its nice to do an old time project, one that has some meaning behind it.

Went to a nearby town this weekend and shopped in a bead store. It was mostly jewelry materials but they had a nice selection of seed and delica beads so I bought a tube of blue/purple and another of lime green. They are nice colors and I look forward to using them somewhere.

Guess my quill work efforts will have to wait a bit longer...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whispering Wind

my order from Whispering Wind arrived...received Craft Annual #6 (1995) and Vol 31 No 6 (2001). The latter was recommended by someone responding to my forum question asking how to make beaded doctor's bags. It has an excellent article called Beaded Satchels that sets out the instructions perfectly! Awhile ago I purchased a small cosmetic bag made in China that has the hinge opening of a doctor's bag but the small size is a good way to test the water and I'm looking forward to starting (one day).
The Annual issue has a good article on making Cheyenne soft cradle covers; I understood the basics but needed some dimensions and an explanation of the square tab behind the hood. It also has suggested bead work designs and says most used alternating bands of white and dark green (how lucky for me that I have plenty of dark green left over from the other cradle). One example, a doll toy, had a rosette on top...mine will have a large rosette with a yellow 8 pointed star outlined in green & red, as well as green & white bands. Just started working on the rosette; it will be bright & colorful. Have some leftover green fleece with a southwest print that can be used as a nice soft inner lining (if I have enough) but may have to go to the fabric store for the outer calico fabric (had hope to do all this with only items already on hand so I may scrounge a bit more).

I would recommend a subscription to Whispering Wind; its a nice magazine and has craft articles as well as historical info, book reviews and plenty of ads for supplies. I prefer the Annuals as they assemble together good craft instructions (but it seems like they are a bit behind in putting the next one out). I purchased Annual #3 when I first started making doll pattern has evolved over the years but someday I'd like to make one from the original (more of a flopsy toy than my current ones) and it would be a good project for kids. See their website for more info...they also carry books, videos & stationary items.

Friday, June 4, 2010


a friend from Kansas just had a baby boy so I've offered to make a soft cradle; just the hood will be beaded so I hope to get it made more quickly than the full sized Kiowa style I made before (that took nearly a year!).
I have plenty of dark green translucent seed beads left over from the other cradle project (bought a full Kilo to get a better price) and the new mom is happy with the color choice! Not sure of the design just yet nor the fabric....hide is nice but its easier & faster to bead on cloth which will be covered by beads and an interior lining. Just bought some 3 band dark green wool broadcloth for a new dress for myself, but won't have enough of that to spare; too bad as that would be lovely. Best guess at the moment is a medium weight off-white denim for the beading surface; a solid color wool or fleece for the bodice; and a pretty calico interior lining with buckskin ties. Also need to make a lizard amulet bag for the umbilical cord, probably in a matching bead color
Think I can figure it all out on my own but just in case I did order an old craft annual from Whispering Wind (also ordered the issue that is supposed to contain instructions on how to bead old doctor's bags, something I've wanted to do for ages). I have a few photos borrowed from various internet sites and a rough idea of the dimensions (in the old days ladies would have just made a good guess, no yard sticks or fancy shears for them!). Many of the photos show a red cover but I wonder if this was preference or just a more available type of fabric...nice to have a wider selection today. Cheyenne style seems to use an angle shape to the hood while Sioux style appears flatter and more in line with the body of the cradle. Should know more when my magazine arrives next week.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

more rosettes

Thought I would make some items to give to the kids at this year's Caddo youth culture camp but they will have craft time and are going to make their own beaded bags...however Tracy says my things can be given to the adults who are volunteering their time so I went back to work, mostly making rosettes and sewing them on small canvas and small hide bags. Here's one that turned out nicely; saw something similar being offered by Dean's Pawn in OKC via their Ebay page. Its a nice pattern and seemed to come together without mistakes (I really like when that happens!). I'm almost tired of doing rosettes but may have one more left in me (inspired by a simple quilled one I found on the internet); have the hide bag already made so it just needs the rosette and edge beading...they look pretty good and would be a nice place to keep some special little treasure.

Have been invited to a college graduation party for one of my students...hope to make something for her this week, maybe a small bag with floral bead work. I'm sure she would appreciate something handmade.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


was poking around the internet looking for pictures of rosettes or medallions for some inspiration and came across a blog where she was sharing all her patterns...they are very nice and I tried one of them; came out pretty good but I had to make some adjustments. She uses 11/0 delica hex beads but I have the regular seed which are often slightly different in width (but I just love the French luster finish). I have some delicas coming next week in a Crazy Crow order so I will try them out...they are said to be more uniform in size & shape so I may eventually shift over to them for rosette work. I will sew them onto small canvas bags from Hobby Lobby as a little gift for the kids who go to Caddo camp. This one is bright and sunny despite our recent gray skies

Friday, May 7, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I got a promotion at work so to celebrate I decided to buy myself something nice, probably a new Pendleton blanket. But instead I bought a turkey feather pow wow fan made by a very gifted Caddo artist (I fell in love with the small green feathers) and I asked her to also bead the handle to match the dress that another friend will make for me from green wool broadcloth. I still need to make the rest: medallion necklace, hair ties, and moccasins but I'll use Tracy's bead work to tie it all together somehow. Think I'll get brass conchos for the belt as they will look better with the green wool and I'll add my beloved brass sequins near the hem too (its starting to sound Northern style).

beading for relaxation

its been a stressful time lately (the end of the semester always is...papers to grade, exams to write, extra credit odds/ends showing up in dribs/drabs) so I turn to bead time for my relaxation. I offered to provide some things to the Caddo nation for their culture camp this summer, some little things to give to the kids or use as prizes etc. I have some things left over from a craft fair to toss into the mix as well. So I've been making small dolls and found some small colored metal rings to attach them to backpacks or whatever; modified the pattern to include a boy doll but its a bit larger in size. After doing a few of these I've shifted to some rosettes just so I don't get bored doing the same thing for too long...I'll come back to those little dolls. I'm told there will be about 50 kids at camp, yikes...don't think I can make enough but maybe the organizers can add my stuff to whatever else they get.
I decided to try something a bit unusual for me, something less traditional but full of color... I have been collecting images from Ebay and Google of various beaded items and keep them organized in folders. A while ago I found a rosette being sold at Dean's Pawn in Oklahoma City; the original looks Crow style and I think it was Kiowa made. I used it for inspiration but changed the colors and tweaked the pattern a bit. Think I'll get a small canvas bag at Hobby Lobby and sew it on then add some edge beading....should look nice for a young girl. I really like how it looks during the day when it gets natural light. Next rosette will be more traditional but its nice to try different approaches.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

OU Medallion

I made a necklace for my friend Chie; she is also an alumni of Univ OK and has been so kind to send me postcards from Alaska where she works with Inuipiat people ( and Pingu toys from Japan). She was very happy to get her medallion and says she will wear it to some dances. I need to tweak the design just a bit but I like how it turned out.

I bought more medium weight interfacing so am all stocked up and ready to make rosettes! I have offered to make a few things that will be given to the kids who attend this summer's Caddo Culture camp held in Binger, OK. Will make small bags decorated with the rosettes and some little necklace dolls (something I made ages ago, a good way to use up some scrap suede and they are super cute...little girls will really like them). I'd like to try making balls using pony beads; pattern looks like a tennis ball but I'm not sure how the bead work will lay out when the parts are drawn together and stuffed...if they look ok perhaps the boys would like them.

My friend Tracy makes such lovely fans and has been encouraging me to try, even sending a handle and feathers but the task seems daunting. Happily she was selling some of her fans at a pow wow and I bought has large turkey feathers and small green & yellow decorative fluffs at the base. She will bead the handle for me and I bet it will look absolutely fantastic. I have a few blue macaw feathers but think I'll mail them home and have her put together a small NAC fan. I just suspect I would find feather work to be maddening ans so its best left to the experts!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Purple Man

finished the little fellow and sent him to his new home...I decided not to make a bandolier for him and I should have made slightly smaller moccasins (this eastern style reminds me of elf slippers). But I like the colors and the simple beadwork turned out pretty good. I used some natural pearls and a nice shell in honor of the Caddo folks who made Spiro. I shared a few of my beloved brass sequins (hard to get sometimes). But now its time to move on to the next project: a small pouch for my friend Chie.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Purple Man progress

he is making headway but needs che zhoa (beaded moccasins) and his hat...looks like an old time res hat but I'll try to edge roll the brim (scalloped edge beading looks too delicate)...I love the shell pendant but it hangs too low for the chest rosette

Monday, March 15, 2010

Purple Man

started a new doll, originally intended to make a Caddo male for a friend back home but realized that since I don't really sew it would be too hard to make a cloth ribbon shirt and I can't find photos of Caddos in hide shirts. So instead I'm making one of my own dolls as inspired by aspects of Caddo culture; they like the colors purple & black and their men's regalia draws from Straight Dance so this little doll has black hide leggings with purple ribbon trim and I'll make Caddo moccs. His shirt is made from purple suede but beaded in a more northern style (southern Plains bead work is generally sparse). He will have braided cloth garters and shell jewelry in honor of the old Spiro culture. I'll wrap his braids in purple ribbon and may get a small black cowboy hat at Hobby Lobby; I can put edge roll bead work along the rim and a braided hatband (similar to the garters). I am finishing up the bead bands on the shirt and will do a small rosette for the chest. It will be pretty but a bit funky modern...still I think Tracy will like him and that's what really counts!

Tracy also sent me her grandmother's doll to see how they were made; its a sweet one with wonderful clothes and a lovely necklace. She also sent some very nice beads and feathers to help me put together a fan (I'm unsure on this project, hers are so amazingly fantastic) but I have some macaw feathers I'd like to use.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beckie's doll revisited

think I have finally finished this doll although I could poke around on her for a bit longer (she should have more than 1 bag on her belt and some other necklaces) but I'll stop for now as other projects are needing time & attention. Spring Break is almost here and even though I have a ton of papers to grade there just has to be some craft time in there too. I will make a simple hide doll to begin a collaborative project with a Caddo friend back home; her grandmother made dolls and Tracy has asked me to look at an unfinished one. I'll use it for a guide, likely its a different style than I have been working with and I think its cloth too which presents both possibilities and problems. Am still trying to figure out how to make & decorate Caddo men's leggings but have not found any examples in museum of the joys of dolls & toys is the suggestion (not actual representation) of reality so hopefully we can get close enough for now (with room for later improvements). Not sure about his hair; traditionally they wore a roach style but shifted to southern plains during the res era and the boarding school cut by 1900 or so...too many decisions for right now! So I'll likely spend some time working on rosettes as a mild distraction and I have been thinking more seriously about making a blanket strip for a friend's retirement gift.

I've also volunteered to give a presentation on bead work to a local historical society this fall and to possibly teach a bead working class if there is any interest. I need some additional examples to show so I am trying to pick up some small/affordable items; just bought my 1st Iroquois whimsey, a beaded pin cushion from around 1900. The price on these seems higher than it used to be so I am out of the market for the good stuff. Not sure what kinds of projects to teach, maybe rosettes for small bags or gourd stitch pens etc.

Got an interesting old Dover book: North American Indian Designs in full color for Needleworkers and Craftspeople (1975), featuring grid patterns for various southwest & Plains designs. Looks handy and I should try to incorporate more intricate patterns in my work. I'm already considering a new female doll with a lovely greasy yellow yoke, really like this color and look forward to working with it for the 1st time!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beckie's doll

I worked on this doll over the xmas break and decided to keep going; all finished except for the accessories (earrings, belt bags, hair ties) but I should be done soon. I like the horses (wish I was skilled enough to do more pictorial work) so I'll call her Horse Medicine Woman in honor of Luzan, an Apache woman known for her "horse whispering" skills (she was the only woman to be imprisoned with Geronimo and his warriors). Doing the lazy or lane stitch was a challenge at first but got better with time; the secret was to keep the hide on an small quilt frame to maintain the even lines. This was the 1st doll to have an all hide body so I need to increase the size of my moccasin and dress patterns slightly.
I want to do another doll in all greasy yellow, a color I used to be ambivalent about but am now embracing. Was good to do a doll again, which seems like a more satisfying project with multiple stages of work (rosettes and bags are easy and quick with little thought required). Am thinking of making an old fashion "possibles" bag one of these years, but the list of projects already promised to other people puts that one pretty low on the priority list.

I did find yet another nice little book on beadwork, the Dover reprint of William Orchard's Native American Beadwork, originally published in 1929. It has a really good section on historical bead use as well as good illustrations on technique...well worth the $3 price from Ed Hamilton Books! And I splurged a bit on French luster beads in the latest Crazy Crow sale flyer; they are 11/0 but I will find a use for them somewhere (too big for dolls but a good size for other work). Next up: an OU bag for Chia who has recently sent me so many wonderful gifts from Japan and Barrow AK

Saturday, January 2, 2010

'Tis the Season

winter is a good time for craft stuck inside and my living room gets good light early in the morning. Last spring I started a doll for a friend who graduated from college but it didn't get done in time...and then summer came with other activities (refinished my deck and some old furniture) and then fall with lots to do at work. Over the Xmas break I decided to do some work on the doll and am almost done with the back of the dress. This is the 1st time I've made a fully beaded doll dress (usually its just the yoke and some spot beading on the lower parts) and my 1st project to all be done in lane stitch which I wasn't very familiar with. After a rough start I seem to be in the groove more but its hard to plan a design; my beads are inconsistent in size (despite all being 13/0) and nothing looks quite right. The back has been essentially a learning area: helping me to become familiar with this stitch and seeing what color combinations work together. I will have a more organized design theme for the front but am not yet decided. Beckie told me her favorite color is blue so it has several shades of blues worked into it as well as white, red and pale green. Its a tad bit busy for my taste so far (but not excessively so) and after replacing a middle section some of the color riots have calmed down.

Am looking forward to getting some jewelry items made by a very gifted Caddo/Kiowa artist back home; she does German silver work (including lovely Caddo combs) so I asked if she could make some small gorgets for a male doll and perhaps some armbands. She says she has made jewelry for her kids' Barbie dolls so this is great! Usually I find some charms at Hobby Lobby or improvise with metal & shell buttons; its gets the idea across but they are just not quite right. I look forward to her additions but feel badly imposing upon her time as she too has lots of craft projects piled up. She makes great feather fans and is getting ready to make a new dress for her wonderful to see all the young Caddo ladies dancing in their regalia, good to keep the culture going into the future!!

For Xmas I received a nice book: Native American Beadwork by a German hobbiest Georg Barth. It has very helpful instructions and illustrations on a variety of techniques and I think we all agree that European hobby types do some amazingly good work. Curiously they are super concerned about accuracy in "authenticity" including materials etc, but I laughed as I read portions of the book...the author dismissed the use of frames (except small embroidery hoops for doing rosettes) since they are not traditional. I like to use Q-Snap embroidery frames as they keep the material straight and my beadwork neat & tidy. I suppose electric lights and sewing machines aren't traditional either but I sure they are greatly appreciated by many women today! Those hobbiests are so concerned with correctness but I wonder if they are missing out on the spirit of the work? I make my things with love and friendship; I try my best; and I know they will be enjoyed by the recipients...that, to me, seems more important that the distinct details of accuracy in materials and technique. I'm sure many women in the past innovated or "made do" when needed; probably most cut corners when they thought they could get away with I'll keep using frames when needed to improve upon the quality of my work. It will never be perfect and I'll never be recognized as a "master craftsman" but I'll do my best and keep making gifts for friends.