Monday, July 28, 2008

Beadwork on Pine Ridge

When I was growing up, my dad did a great thing for me. He figured out that I was somewhat creatively/artistically inclined and asked my art teacher what he should do. She said buy her some art stuff and get out of the way. And so it was that I grew up spending pretty much all of my free time making things -- jewelry, rock and pine cone paperweights, dream catchers, cards, what-have-you. I had a particular fascination with American Indian-inspired crafts.
A wall hanging from the room Allison and I are staying in.

So it has been a bit of a childhood dream come true to see all of the crafts out here. Women still keep up the tradition of making moccasins for newborn babies and for adolescent girls, and I often see women at the office, at Kili radio, working on a pair of moccasins. There are many other crafts around here too. One that I really want to learn is quillwork. This is what the plains Indians, and others, used before the arrival of glass beads from trade with Europeans. They dried and died porcupine quills and wrapped and stitched them onto moccasins, shirts, leggings, bags -- pretty much everything that they now decorate with beads. I think the results are simply stunning...
Image from:

I hope to learn to do this, at least the basics, before the summer is out. And I may be in luck since we have just moved in with a new family and our host is an expert in all these different crafts. For now, she is out of town for the week and we are taking care of her house and dog and playing around with bead work, since it is more simple and familiar.

Here's what I've done so far. Allison did a lot more of this kind of thing growing up than I did, so she has been teaching me some tricks of the trade as well.

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