Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer of Powwows

Well i've certainly been absent from these pages for way too long...

Summer is an incredibly busy time for me; powwows nearly every weekend, furious work hours in between to refresh inventory. Not much time for the fun of blogging. This post, for example, was started in July, added to in August and September, but not posted until now, Oct 4...

All of what I had previously written seems so outdated that most of it has been cleared from this page. Instead I'm going to fill this post with pictures from my powwows and a promise to resume regular posts now that my season has cooled.

This one was fun -- the Black River Powwow and Historical Gathering in Wadhams, MI. The Living Historians (some call them re-enactors) had a wonderful little village set up and they did demonstrations and cooked us an awesome feast meal!!

Then there were the rainy powwows... weather certainly puts the "maybe" in an outdoor event!!

Of course, the sun eventually came out and fun and friends took center stage!

(Gotta throw in a picture of my powwow sisters doing the Buffalo Dance! Great fun!)
I had a great summer; looking forward to an awesome autumn!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Making Pouches

My supply of pouches has been crying for attention, and finally I gave it some. Deer hide pouches, sized for wearing around the neck or carrying, with fringe and cones or fetishes of bone.
My methods are decidedly low-tech. All pieces are scissor-cut by hand from my own patterns, holes are individually punched with drive punches and a mallet, and hand-cut deerhide laces are used to bind it all together. Fringe-pieces are inset, adding to the strength of the pouch bottom.

The stitch I use is a lot less fancy than it looks -- it's a simple whip-stitch, but I whip it in both directions. In truth, I never cared for the whip-stitch as a binding on bags, though it's the way I was taught long ago in my hippy-leather days. It tends to pull everything in one direction, and it leaves gaps where stuff inside the pouch can protrude. Out of this frustration came the idea to reverse the whip-stitch at the end and run it back the other way in the hope that it would pull everything even and close those gaps. It worked so well I've been using it almost exclusively ever since. Looks handsome too, doesn't it?

Fringe is cut with scissors after the pouch is stitched -- less tangling that way.

I use round braids for my straps, feeding them through round holes before binding them and adding a decorative touch of cones or a fetish.

Most of these will wind up as medicine bags; carrying someone's tobacco or personal spiritual items. That's both an honor and a responsibility that I don't take lightly. Every one of my pouches is individually made in a good way.

The fact I have so much fun doing it is a bonus for me!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Man Made Market Feature

It seems true, at least at first glance, that handcrafted items are geared primarily toward women. In order to address and remedy this situation, Man Made Market has taken it upon themselves to search out and feature artisans who produce items for men.
I am honored to be featured on their blog currently -- you can take a look at
Please take time while you're there to scroll down through some of the other featured artisans and crafters -- there are some fabulous items and wonderfully creative minds on those pages!

Thank you Man Made Market for this very cool idea!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pow Wow Regalia Belts

One of my favorite things about powwows is all of the beautiful regalia. The time and energy put into a dancer's outfit is evident everywhere you look.

Some aspects of an outfit are determined by the style of dance, such as streaming fringe on a grass dancer or hand-rolled metal cones on a jingle-dress, and some are more personal choice or statement, such as colors and clan totems.

Most of the dancers in every style wear wide belts with their outfits. There are some beauties out there! Awesome fully-beaded belts and wonderful finger-weave sashes in patterns and hues to boggle the mind!

And, of course, leather belts.
I've been making belts for the Great Lakes powwow trail for about twelve years now, and it's a true honor to see many dancers wear my work into the circle!

About a third of the dance belts I make are custom- order work for people who want specific designs or colors; the rest are made one at a time for my booth. No production on the dance belts! I never lose sight of the fact that regalia is unique to the wearer.

These are pictures of various stages of doing and done on a selection of belts -- such creative fun!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pow Wow at the Soo

I spent the Fourth of July weekend in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Known as the Soo by locals, it's a port of entry with Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and home to the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians on both sides of the border. Site of one of the longest-running continuous powwows in North America, this year was the 27th annual.

Powwows are laid out in a circle, like the medicine wheel. In the center is the arbor. This is where the drums gather to sing and beat out the rhythm of Earth's heartbeat for the dancers.

The dancers' circle moves around the drum arbor. Like the medicine wheel, it begins in the east, where the gate for entry and exit is located. Movement within the circle proceeds, like the wheel, from east through south, to the west and then north before winding up back in the east where all begins.

Around the outside of this blessed circle is the area where people gather to watch and the vendors set up their canopies and sell their wares.
Symbolizing the unity of all as children of the same creator, as well as calling to mind the different stages of life as a human, the wheel is a powerful emblem in many traditions.
In the Anishinabek traditions of the Great Lakes the wheel is laid out with yellow to the east, red in the south, black to the west and white in the north. The colors represent the different races in some teachings, and in others they stand for stages of life or states of mind. There are wonderful teachings available on these things, and better venues than my blog; I recommend this website as a place to start:
Posts are few and far between right now -- summer keeps me very busy -- but i will try to do better. Soon.