Saturday, December 24, 2011

End of year projects

one of the joys of academia is having long breaks between semesters! I get 3 weeks off and soon I'll be anxious for a bead project. I have several unfinished things to do: make a small hide bag & attach a rosette for a student; finish the baby moccasins; restring a coyote claw necklace for a doll and make his little moccasins; repair a peyote stitch beaded pen that broke apart; and probably several other odds/ends! I also need to start some new projects too: something (maybe a purse or coin bag) for a friend who recently retired; a beaded checkbook cover for myself; and...I don't really know. Hmm.

Usually I make several Xmas gifts including small ornaments, but this year I didn' was a difficult fall and I was in a fog. My craft supplies were almost inaccessible and disorganized, so I cleaned my home office a bit and put things away. Having a cleaner space has cheered me up and allowed me to see possibilities. Maybe after the holidays I'll treat myself to new beads; a friend traveled out west this summer and bought some in South Dakota (pretty red, white & blue translucents but not sure of the size, maybe 13/0). Its always nice to get a box of supplies from Wandering Bull, Noc Bay, or Crazy Crow!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

baby moccasins

my friend Debbie will have a baby soon, started a pair of eastern woodlands style moccasins...different from southern plains with their folded down cuff and floral beadwork on velveteen but they look cute. Need to finish up the other shoe soon, think the baby is due soon but the shoes are too big for awhile!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Finished my blanket strip in good time, need to get ready for the Fall semester (see my academic blog for those details) but I have a few more craft projects that need my attention including finishing a small hide bag promised to a student last spring and a umbilical cord amulet for another student who had a baby this summer.

The Natl Park Service invited me to participate in their Heritage Days event held at an old trade post & farm located near a trail used by Pottawatomie people during the early 1800s. I am to demonstrate bead work, but more likely will just set up tables with porky quills, beads etc and answer questions. Since most of my own work is plains style (and usually given away) I don't have many finished objects to display...but I promised to make baby moccasins for a friend so I will make them in Great Lakes style (center seam with wide beaded velvet cuffs) and perhaps a small hide bag with floral applique design. This weekend event occurs in mid-September so there's not much time, especially since the Fall Semester begins next week...but I think I could get a few small objects together! The NPS kindly paid me an honorarium for the last event (a weekend workshop for area school teachers who wanted to add to their Native American curriculum materials) and then mistakenly sent me a 2nd check! So I'll use this extra money to buy materials; the kids who stop by my table can select a glass crow bead and deer hide lace as a small souvenir of their visit to the park. I don't have the sense that people will stay for a long demonstration of beading techniques or to actually work on their own project but I may set out some embroidery hoops and beads if folks want to try their hand at floral applique...a few stitches may give them a little understanding. I've never done this type of demonstration before and am wondering how Fred Harvey employees felt...but its good incentive to work on baby moccs!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blanket strip done!

I finished out my blanket strip by sewing on a white deer hide back; finally I attached blue & pink satin ribbons as well as tassels made with white horsehair, silver cones, and blue mini glass grow beads. The pink ribbon may be a bit too soft but the recipient said he liked the pink bead detail. If I had the chance to redo this project I would have selected red beads & ribbon instead of pink, but its all done now!

I also added 2 hide tabs so that it can be easily and safely hung on a wall (or they can be tucked out of sight if it will be displayed on a chair back). Its unlikely that it will be attached to a blanket but that would be nice too.

It was a big project taking nearly 2 months to complete. I learned important things along the way and am generally happy with the results. I wanted to make one for some time and as a first effort I think it turned out ok. I may attempt another one someday but other projects are waiting so off to something else...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blanket strip 4

beading is all done on my strip; I trimmed away the excess canvas and am almost ready to attach a hide back. I don't have a single piece of hide that is long enough (64") so will have to sew 2 sections together and hope the seam isn't too noticeable (it will be on the back so won't be seen very often). I'm disappointed that some of the white canvas is showing around the medallions so I decided to back the strip with a white split I purchased from Wandering Bull, a supplier back east. It wasn't the color I had intended and I hesitate to use up my wonderful white hide (its hard to get at a good price) but it will look nice and help hide the problem. I also purchased pink and blue ribbons and will make white horsehair tassels to hang from the medallions.
This was my 1st effort and I've learned some valuable lessons but don't know if I'll be making another one any time soon!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

summer beading

am still working on my blanket strip project this summer; was making good progress but then I got a bit burned out...need to make 1 more medallion, attach and then finish beading around it. Am a little more than 1/2 done, its about 40" in length so far. Its getting a bit heavy on one side which makes it a little difficult to hold in my lap, even when its all rolled up.

I think I'm finally ready to get back to the work; final medallion should only take a day or two to complete. There's no hurry of course and time spent on this project means I'm not getting some other things done so I need better balance...I enjoy beading in the morning out on the back deck while it is still cool and my big Siamese cat loves to be out there, especially with me for company. Plus its easier to work outside with good light.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blanket strip pt 2

Each project has its own quirks and complications, particularly on the first try...I've had to make some adjustments to my project but its finally moving along. Initially I stretched the canvas in my large quilting frame as I did with Jameson's cradleboard cover, but this project is only using 3" of fabric and the house is busier in the summer; the frame is too large for this project and simply in the way of people and pets. So I cut the fabric down and placed in my smaller lap (11 x 17) frame, rolling up the excess fabric. This allows me to carry it outside to the deck (which is covered by a canvas gazebo and has lights, sound system, carpet and plants for a nice outdoor room) and also work on it from the couch.

I tacked down the rosettes and beaded around them with the larger, less precise dark blue beads that I've had sitting around for some time. I like the old time clunky feel of them, a good contrast to the other beads. I also used the dark blue to outline the strip and create a border (not seen in the old strips but it worked to help keep me from wandering too far out of alignment). Still have no ideas for any designs but am thinking and decided to use the light pink I got at Hobby Lobby for some contrast.

Strip is 64" in length with the rosettes covering 14", leaving 50" to two days I've covered 5" for a total of 10%....looks like this project will be slow going but I guess there is no real hurry.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blanket strip pt 1

I started my first blanket strip; have made 2 of the 4 medallions so far. They are 3" in diameter which is a bit small but they will become a little larger with a dark blue border. The hourglass design is common on the plains but the blue & white is found most often in Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux bead work; these colors were the first to be brought to the plains as seen in early Bodmer paintings of Mandan folks made in the 1830s.

I also purchased canvas and will stretch it in my large Q-Snap quilting frame, lightly sketch out strip dimensions (approximately 64" in length and 2.5" wide) as well as the location of any designs (still thinking about that), and then attach the medallions so I can bead around them.

The bead size 10/0 doesn't seem large enough to me, but the more traditional pony beads are more expensive. I wish I had ordered more colors too; so I picked up some 10/0 in dark blue and a very pretty pink at Hobby Lobby but not sure if I will use them except for the dark blue border. As this is a man's gift the pink doesn't seem quite right...have given some thought to ordering more beads, but 2 colors can be enough I guess and I'm too impatient to await their delivery. Perhaps the next one will be more colorful.

For more info on robes and their decorations see:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blanket planning...

decided to start my new project; ordered pearl white and translucent light blue beads in size 10/0 (a bit smaller than size 8 pony beads) for a fairly traditional blanket strip and will make it 60 inches in length (although a smaller size with a University of Oklahoma medallion seems like a nice gift idea!). I will use a canvas backing (not sure I have enough on hand so may need to poke around a fabric store soon), stretching the material on my large Q-Snap quilt frame just as I did for cradle covers....this technique really keeps the fabric taut and bead lines straight. I can move it around and will probably work on it outside under the new canvas gazebo set up on my back deck. Can make the 5 inch rosettes first and then try to improve my lazy lane stitch (another option which I actually prefer is to use a single needle running stitch). Finally, I will attach a hide backing (may be a good excuse to use up the cow hide split that I bought for moccasins but have decided not to use for that project). Likely it will just be hung up on a wall but I think it will be an attractive element in my friend's home.

But while I wait for the beads to arrive (probably a week or so) I should work on some other projects that are partially done and also need to make a retirement gift to take to a party in a few weeks. That should keep me occupied!

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Project: Blanket strip

Hooray!! after much thought about where to go next, I have finally decided to tackle a blanket strip...will make it on canvas and then back with hide. Need to decide on colors and order enough beads but its something I've wanted to do for some time and the decision was worked out by hours of staring at a framed print in my bedroom. I cant copy the image, but here's the link:

Here is a nice strip but I'm not sure if I should use a traditional style or something modern (maybe making OU medallions?). Need to decide on length as well: short for a starter project or full length as I don't know when I would ever do another?? Hmm, decisions and more decisions....

Sunday, June 12, 2011


A friend kindly gave me a Tandy gift card and I finally went over to the local Tandy store to see about buying some hide (was looking at their pig suede splits on-line) but the store is closed and gone, bummer. I am a bit surprised...granted they never had a lot of customers but there was always someone in there and they offered classes. Web shows the only Indiana stores are in Ft Wayne & Indy, too far to go but happily there are stores in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa!! I plan to drive home very soon and will be in both towns so I can shop happily in a land where cowboys and Indians still do leather craft.

I didn't go to the local shop very often as it was a bit out of my usual path but I liked it; they had a variety of items not found at other area craft stores and the employees were nice. In retrospect I should have shopped there more often but that wouldn't have been enough to keep it open I suppose; I can still buy on-line but I like to touch the materials before I buy if possible. I recently purchased cheap deer hide from Crazy Crow and was shocked at its inferior quality and nasty smell...I had tossed the receipt so couldn't return, so I shipped it to Oklahoma where a friend happily accepted. I then placed an internet order with Wandering Bull and received one of the most beautiful deer hides I have ever seen or touched so I guess its just luck of the draw.

I'll shop at Tandy in Oklahoma and wait to start my bag; just as well as I need to do other projects. Still I will miss my local store...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

pipe stem

its not very fancy but I did finish decorating a pipe stem for a friend; he bought a wooden stem from Crazy Crow so I wrapped with white deer hide, added some beads to the ends, beaded the quills of 3 hawk feathers and hung them along with white horse hair, red glass and brass beads. He was pleased with it (but suspect he wasn't keen on the bead work pattern, a bit too busy maybe) and took me to lunch.

It was an interesting project and I tried to learn about pipes & stems in preparation. He showed it to an art dealer who asked me to make another but already have too many projects in line; tipi possibles bag is likely the next one up!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Late Spring

Friends have commented on the lack of postings...guess I got busy at work and didn't do much craft work for awhile. Several older projects need some updating: still have not finished my most recent doll (he needs moccasins) and a slight mishap occurred. Nor sure how it happened (I suspect kittens) but he was knocked down from the bookshelf and a dog ate most of the coyote claws. Have found brass and glass beads all over the living room too, so I'll have to buy more claws and restring.

My wonderful dress arrived and sadly didn't fit at all...because it was made back in Oklahoma there were no fittings; in retrospect we should have made one from a cheap cotton first rather than the nice wool. I read on the internet several posting about how this pattern line tends to run a size small but that didn't help soothe my sad feelings. My friend Tracy doesn't seem worried and thinks its a simple matter to open the seams and insert gussets but I am suspicious and think the project is a complete bust. I'm guessing we buy new fabric and try again...maybe the other dress could be sold to help some of the cost, bummer.

I made a few things during the spring break to give away as prizes to my students who got the highest score on each exam. These included a pen wrapped in gourd stitch, a black suede bag with a university logo medallion, and another rosette that needs to be finished into a necklace (the student agreed to wait). Another student is expecting a child so I offered to make a lizard amulet bag for the umbilical cord, guess that should be next as the due date is approaching.

A friend asked me to decorate a pipe stem for the red stone bear effigy bowl he is carving. I had hoped to learn enough quill work to wrap the stem, but that skill seems too far away and I don't think its appropriate to experiment on a pipe I bought some lovely white suede from Wandering Bull ( and wrapped the stem, then gourd stitched the ends in a rainbow pattern with 11/0 translucent seed beads. Next I added strips of white suede with small brass sequins, white horse hair scalp locks with red and brass beads, and am now wrapping 3 hawk feathers which belong to my friend in gourd stitch with 11/0 French luster beads. Hope to be done over the long holiday weekend but have papers to grade and a test to write as well.

My next big project will be to make beaded hide covers for the large Gladstone bags that I bought on Ebay...think I may do the first using a Lakota/Cheyenne tipi possibles bag motiff (simple thin lines of beadwork) rather than the full beadwork of a smaller doctor's bag. The bags are so much larger than I had expected and the task seemed overwhelming but this seems like a nice solution and is still in keeping with the idea of a nice bag. I need to go hide shopping; am considering pig suede this time as its generally thinner and I can place it in a large rectangular quilting frame which keeps all the lines straight. Lane or lazy stitch is said to be easy but I find it to be quite challenging and prefer single needle running stitch instead! But maybe with some luck I can make something happen...intended recipient is my friend Tracy who made my dress (we are trying to work out trades as compensation). Summer isn't the best time for big projects as there are lots of other things to do but it is nice to have something I can pick up from time to time so this may be it (and I will be happy to move the large Gladstone's out of my office).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

new dress

ages ago I planned a new pow wow dress for as far as ordering the fabric, a nice green wool known as 3 band broadcloth and I started picking up some brass sequins each time I placed a bead order. A friend had offered to make it for me as I don't sew but then her life got busy with a baby, work and her own projects. Happily another friend agreed to make it for me in exchange for some bead work. She has just finished it and will be sending to me to add the brass embellishments.

I have to make new moccasins (have a tan cowhide waiting for me to start) as well as the small beaded pouches that hang from a considering ordering the leather & brass concho belt from a shop in Tonkawa OK rather than make it myself (they do such nice work and their prices are quite fair). For a look at their work see:

may also ask my friend to make a new shawl...perhaps cream fabric with emerald fringe. Her ribbon work shawls are so amazing but likely out of my price range for now. She made my fan which is incredible! See some of Tracy's work at:

Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 doll part 5

he is slowly coming together...he will also have a Peace Medal made from a drilled French franc coin; peace medals were given by government officials as tokens of friendship and were highly prized by Native peoples in the Great Lakes and Northern Plains. He needs earrings and bead necklaces as well as moccasins and perhaps a rawhide shield across his back

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 doll part 4

In keeping with a central plains feel to the doll I decided to decorate him with a bear claw necklace; I selected coyote claws from Noc Bay, a native craft supplier located in Michigan. They were pre-drilled and just the right size but too small to use with a fur strip like real ones. Among the Pawnee certain families held the right to assemble the claws into a necklace and were usually paid a horse for their efforts. Photos of museum held necklaces almost always show them spaced with blue glass beads but I have not found an explanation for this; I have opted to use brass beads on this doll version.

Another feature of prominent central plains men is the otter fur turban, also commonly found in the Great lakes and Prairie states. It is worn today by men who dance a style known as straight dance. My doll version is made of imitation fur decorated with brass sequins, lined with red felt and edge beading using 12/0 pearl seed beads. It will need to be secured to his head but that will happen after earrings, bead necklaces and moccasins are made...he will be handled and bumped around for a bit yet!

2011 doll part 3

The old saying "clothes makes the man" seems to be true, at least for this guy anyway. He now has a shirt made from a golden colored deer hide suede split (probably 2-3 oz weight). I attempted to dye interfacing orange using food coloring but it didn't hold (interfacing is probably synthetic instead of organic like cotton and needs a chemical dye which I didn't have on hand); I then beaded this interfacing but unfortunately didn't double the material...the thinness makes the beads seem loose. Note to self: always double the beading medium (which I usually do). Forgot to take photos as I worked but had taken them during an earlier doll construction; working on interfacing in an embroidery hoop is easier, keeps the bead work straight and reduced strain on the hide. Old hide shirts show a similar effort and presumably beaded sections could be removed and placed on new shirts when necessary.

I made a strip for each arm and two for the body (passing over each shoulder) then sewed each onto hide with enough space on either side to cut fringe. Then these were sewn onto the shirt and the side seams closed (gets a bit tricky under his arms). The fringe could have been cut a bit thinner but it floats fairly well.

For me a doll really comes to life once hair is added. In this instance I used a mix of gray and black horse hair; braided and then sewn onto the head with a curved upholstery needle. The braids were tied with a short strip on suede and wrapped with red ribbon to help hold them together.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 doll part 2

because of the dark hide color I keep thinking this doll looks like a tall gingerbread man! But now he has black deer hide leggings with fringe & bead work and a long loin cloth decorated with brass sequins. The loin cloth is long in front & back, like the modern dance style. Both are held up by a simple deer hide lace

He is starting to look more like a doll and less of a gingerbread man!! But its winter, so a nice warm shirt is needed; the slightly larger doll body with new arm positioning will require that I make a new shirt pattern. Likely I will also make a cloth shirt to test before cutting out the golden colored deer hide.