Porcupine Quill Decorating
The use of porcupine quills for embroidery decorative work on items is far older in the Native American cultures who lived in the woodlands where the porcupine could be found than is the use of beads. Clothing, weapons, baskets, personal items, tools, and sacred items have all been the recipients of this stunningly beautiful art form. Quills were dyed creating shades of the colors of black, white, red and yellow.
"A natural dye for red included the following ingredients: Choke cherry or wild plum, Tamarack bark, Spruce cones, Sumac berries, Alder and Hemlock inner bark, Poke berry, Bloodroot, Sassafras, Red Bed straw, Buffalo-berry (Lepargyrea), Currants, Red Osier Dogwood and Red cedar. The quills are added to a prepared dye in a large pot and simmered for 1/2 to 3 hours." http://www.turtletrack.org/Issues01/Co03102001/CO_03102001_Porky.htm
Take a look at this beautiful baby
carrier on ebay for the next few days. It has close up view of quilling
|"Cheyenne women's quilling societies undertook quillwork as a sacred task. A woman had to be sponsored and tutored for membership. The objective of these societies was technical perfection in the art. Sacred quillwork in many areas was undertaken to fulfill a vow as a form of prayer for someone. The process of making it was sacred, but the finished piece -- to be worn or used by someone -- was not considered sacred. The product was of secondary importance to the process of creation, according to John C. Ewers, of the Smithsonian Institution. The focus was on the vow, the thoughts and prayers and the work, not on the thing -- very different from Western society, which prizes only things and ignores the process of creation." http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/art_bead.html|
"Porcupine quills were used for decorative work on clothing
until approximately 1850 when the trade and application of glass beads replaced
quills as the decoration of choice. This transition was made easier because: (1)
Tiny glass beads allowed use of the same designs used in quillwork; (2) More
colors were available; (3) Quills no longer had to be acquired, washed, sorted,
and dyed before work could begin. While quillwork is beautiful, unique and
usually very well done, there were limitations to the colors and designs which
could be applied."
http://www.crazycrow.com/crafts/quillwork.php (this website has many excellent references and how to do instructions)
An excerpt from Porcupine Quill Embroidery by Tara
"In general, quill-working flourished among Native Americans until the mid-1800's when glass beads became easily attainable through trade with Europeans. Later traditions of embroidery using glass beads were built upon techniques and designs in quill-working. Although considered a 'lost art' by many, Native Americans such as the Sioux, Cree and Ojibway and others still carry on the tradition of quill embroidery."
First, you get a porcupine ... http://www.nativetech.org/quill/porcupin.html
Then you prepare the hairs .... http://www.nativetech.org/quill/prepare.html
Dying using natural dyes comes next .... http://www.nativetech.org/quill/dyes.html
Here is a virtual matching game of Natural Dyes and Porcupine Quills: http://nativetech.nativeweb.org/games/porcupinequill/index.php
Tools you will need are ....... http://www.nativetech.org/quill/tech.html
Here are some methods you can experiment with ......
Good description of the methods: http://www.matoska.com/craft_porcupine_quillwork_hartless.htm
Examples of the different methods: http://www.matoska.com/quilwork.htm
Everything (well almost) you want to know about Quillwork tips, books etc, can be found at this superb website of NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art: http://www.nativetech.org/quill/index.php
A Cheyenne Legend - The Quillwork Girl and her seven brothers