Monday, July 28, 2014

South African beadwork

I exchange postcards internationally through an organization called Postcrossing. Recently I communicated with a very nice woman in South Africa who also shares a love of beadwork. European beads were introduced into African societies at about the same time as they came to Native Americans, although older Arab glass beads were also known along the eastern coast. Artists embraced them in the past as well as the present

A Ndebele jogola, bridal apron
The Ndebele were dispersed by the Zulu and came into contact with Sotho where they were influenced artistically. Women wore different types of beaded clothing depending on their age. A bride received a white sheepskin apron from her in-laws and then decorated it with white beads. The five hanging panels represent her ability to produce children. More recent examples feature different colors of beadwork.

Xhosa inkciyo, under apron
worn by both Xhosha and Thembe people of the Eastern Cape, these aprons are made and worn by girls during their initiation into womanhood and then passed on to an younger female relative. The two yellow strings of beads are symbolic of fertility.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Slimy, slimy rawhide

After soaking my small rawhide dog bone overnight I unwrapped and tacked the strips to plywood for drying. They need to be stretched better to avoid wrinkles; may soak again and squeeze under a heavy concrete block to see if that helps. In this first try the bone was too small and yielded small strips (but these can be used for mini Xmas ornament versions and for a doll I have not yet finished). But its good to try with a small version and work out the problems....

I have 2 more bones now soaking in a large storage tote...the smaller is 18" and the larger is close to 3 feet, so both will provide more work surface. I will need to get a larger board to tack down the strips (or possibly just use my outdoor deck). I did learn that the hide is slimy and made it difficult to firmly grip a nail...The instructions suggest having someone help with the stretching and this seems like good advice.

Fortunately my dog was able to help me tidy up any remaining bits. The hide was from Mexico so I hope it is safe to eat (heard Chines hides can make dogs ill). She seems to have a keen interest in this project!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Parfleche project

I am needing something to do this summer and want to find small projects that my students can try in the new class. Decided I will make a parfleche envelope for starters and found an easy set of instructions on the web. Sadly, my local Tandy store closed and sheets of rawhide have really increased in price, but this web idea calls for soaking and opening up a dog a cheap one is currently soaking overnight in tupperware on my kitchen counter. I have bigger sized bones, but will start small. I also ordered a book with design patterns from Crazy Crow and will need to order powdered paints or paint cookies. Found some great info on the painting process from a site that specializes in repairing and replicating historic museum items.

Parfleches served mobile Plains people as containers for clothing, food etc and come in many sizes & shapes. Here is an old Cheyenne example of the envelope.

Modern examples are more decorative art...I like fringe and I will try to get Pendleton blanket fabric remnant instead of the very expensive trade wool for the edges. Strips sell on ebay for $5 and should offer enough fabric for this project.

I like the idea of making miniature ones for my dolls so will save all the bits of dog bone rawhide that get trimmed away. This seems like a simple fun project that students can do for little money and yet learn about hidework, some designs & painting techniques and have something unusual to show for the effort. Perhaps some students will want to move on to a larger box: