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!

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