Sunday, April 23, 2006

Make A Dream Catcher

By Christina VanGinkel

I made my first dream catcher years before they were the popular decor item that they are now. Steeped in Native American culture, the modern day, dream catcher is thought to catch bad dreams before they reach the person sleeping beneath. The dreams are supposed to become entangled in the web of sinew and beads, until the sun rises. When the sunlight hits the web, it is suppose to shatter the bad dreams wandering along the strands of the web. During the night, the good dreams are shown the way through the web and drip innocently down a feather to reach the sleeper beneath.

I have made dream catchers from various materials, including metal rings purchased in a craft department of our local Wal-Mart, to small metal rings that I bought from suppliers such as Fire Mountain Gems, which make up into earrings and pendant they are so small. I have also used willow for the frame, and even made several from the ribs of deer we harvested during deer season. After nature did her job of cleaning off the leftover carcass, I boiled the ribs to strip them completely clean, and then used either two together to form a teardrop, or four for a more natural oval or round shape.

If you want to make a dream catcher yourself, the supplies to make them are quite basic, and the weave is as simple as can be. Gather your supplies first:

A length of willow is the easiest to work with, or a metal ring. A six or eight inch ring would be a good size to begin with, as you will not have to struggle with a small weave, and will be able to see what you are working on. Save trying to make a pair of earrings or a pendant until you are more adept at making the weave.

A spool of sinew either split or un-split. Split is thinner, un-split can be slit or left as is. For a beginner, I would use the un-split as is.

A few glass beads that will easily fit over the thickness of sinew that choose, and if desired, a few metal beads.

A plastic or metal yarn needle.

A couple of feathers.

If using willow, you might also need a few strips of leather to secure the ends of the willow together.

To start the web itself, cut a length of sinew that you are comfortable working with. If you cut it too short, you can add another length, when you come to the end. Tie the sinew to the hoop. With the sinew in needle, holding the hoop in your left hand, facing yourself, and the needle with the sinew in your right, place the sinew over the hoop, to the right, bring it over the hoop and under, to the left, keeping to the inside of the sinew, in essence forming a loop over the hoop. Keep the sinew taught as you work, turning the hoop slightly, and depending on the size of hoop you are working on, move over anywhere from an inch (an eight inch hoop) to several inches (the bigger the hoop, the farther over you move) and repeat around the outside of the hoop.

When you reach the first loop, you made, continue around again, this time making your loops into the previous loop instead of the hoop. Keep in mind at this point that beads can be added to the sinew whenever and in whatever pattern desired. Do the weave in a repeating pattern until you are nearly to the center of the hoop. On your last round, instead of making the loop, just weave the end of the sinew in and out. Pull tight forming the web, and tie securely. If the web is not tight when you weave the last round and pull, you have made too many rows. Undo one or two rows back, weave in the last row again, and then pull. There will be some trial and error when you make your first ones, but after making several you will learn when to stop making the loops and add in the final row of weave.

Beads can be added while you are forming the web as I mentioned before, or just tied on afterwards. Feathers can be tucked into the ends of the beads, adding a bit of glue if desired to keep them in place. Add an additional loop of sinew or piece of leather at the top of the hoop to form a hangar, and hang near or over the bed of someone having bad dreams.

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