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 ordered...so 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 Powwow.com 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 dolls...my 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 http://www.whisperingwind.com/ 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.