Dreamcatchers are the most recognized piece of Native American culture in the U.S. For most Native Americans, these are symbols of legends and a tradition that has been passed down from one generation to the next. To some, they represent unity among Native Americans. For others, dreamcatchers are just souvenirs that are manufactured in China and exported to the U.S. to be marketed as genuine Native American artifacts. Some Native American tribes have attempted to bring the meaning back to dreamcatchers by making them from traditional supplies. Learning the history and meaning of these lovely crafts, and how to make a dreamcatcher, will give you a better understanding and appreciation of them and the beliefs behind them.
Today, dreamcatchers are available in an assortment of styles and sizes. Genuine dreamcatchers are handcrafted solely from natural materials and measure only a few inches in diameter. The hoops in authentic dreamcatchers were frequently made from a Red Willow branch. Webbing was then added using stretched sinew and leather was wrapped around the frame. Nowadays, the hoops for dreamcatchers might be made from various materials including wood, plastic or metal.
The webbing might be created using yarn or thread and the frame could be wrapped in thread, ribbon, yarn or any other suitable material. In this guide, you will learn how to make a dreamcatcher and the history of this craft.
What Is A Dreamcatcher?
A dreamcatcher is a piece of Native American culture. It is handmade and comprises a willow hoop with a web made from sinew in the middle. Usually, a feather or beads hang from the bottom. Traditionally, they are hung above an infant's bed to protect him or her from bad dreams.
The dreamcatcher originated with the Ojibwa tribe and was adopted by other tribes, nations, and cultures over time. This adoption was possible due to trade and intermarriage. In the 1960s and '70s, Native Americans widely adopted dreamcatchers due to the Pan-Indian movement. Dreamcatchers are thought of as a symbol of unity among many indigenous regions and cultures. Learning how to make a dreamcatcher is easy.
History Of Dreamcatchers
They can trace the origins of the dreamcatcher back to the Ojibwa people; however, several other tribes including the Lakota and the Chippewa have their own dreamcatcher legends. Basically, a dreamcatcher is a small hoop that contains sinew or thread tied into the form of a web, leaving a little hole in the center. The sinews are tied at various points on the circle. There is a different meaning based on the number of points.
The meanings are as follows:
Before we learn how to make a dreamcatcher, let's look at the various Native American legends surrounding these beautiful artifacts.
This is the tale of the spider woman and how she brought the sun back to the world's people. In the beginning, the Ojibwa people lived together as one nation. As these people spread out to each corner of North America, Asibikaashi, otherwise known as the spider woman, vowed to continue to care for the children. However, she could not get to all of their beds every night. So the tribe's women made magic webs in a circular shape, representing the sun's path through the sky. These were hung above the cradleboards.
Like a spider traps insects in its web, bad dreams are caught in the dreamcatcher's web and are destroyed when the sun hits them in the morning. Mothers would often tie a feather to the middle of the hoop to represent air or breath.
According to this legend, the purpose of a dreamcatcher was to prevent children from waking up with the horror of the bad dream lingering in their eyes. Mothers would weave a web onto a willow hoop while reciting sacred words and thinking about happy things. Sacred feathers would be hung from the middle to guide good dreams from the center down to the sleeping child. Owl feathers represented wisdom and were hung above girls' beds. Eagle feathers represented courage and were hung above boys' beds.
This legend recounts the vision of an old spiritual leader. Iktomi, a great trickster and teacher, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spun a web in the elder's willow hoop as he talked about the life cycle from a baby to old age. He informed the elder that when you listen to good ideas, forces will put you on the right path. However, when you listen to bad ideas, forces will put you on the wrong path. He indicated to the elder that the web was a perfect circle with a hole in the middle. Iktomi explained to the elder that good ideas would get caught in the web, but bad ones would fall through the hole and disappear as the visions and dreams of his people sifted.
How To Make A Dreamcatcher
Learning how to make a dreamcatcher is fun and you can do it by yourself or with a group. Here are step-by-step instructions.
Getting The Materials
First, gather all materials. Select a wooden or metal hoop. Pre-made wooden or metal hoops are simple and work well for dreamcatchers. The size of the hoop is up to you, depending on what size dreamcatcher you wish to make. Select suede lace, or ribbon to wrap the hoop in. The width of the lace or ribbon should be equal to the width of a shoelace. The length should be equal to the diameter of your hoop, times eight. Choose string or yarn for your web. Whatever you use should be flexible and strong. The length should be equal to the diameter of your hoop, times ten.
Finally, choose some decorative materials. You can use anything you like. Feathers, beads, fabric strips, shells, and gemstones are all good choices. Try to select items that have special meaning to you.
Now it's time to make your dreamcatcher. Begin by wrapping the hoop. Put a half-inch stripe of glue at the top of your hoop. Hold the end of your lace against the hoop and wrap it around the glue line. While you are wrapping the lace, be certain not leave any bare spaces on the hoop. After you have covered the glue area, use a binder clip to keep the lace in place while the glue dries. Continue to wrap the lace around the hoop, putting more glue on the hoop where necessary. This will help the lace remain in place. Be certain that the lace is tightly wrapped around the hoop and that there are no bare spaces showing.
Keep wrapping the lace around the hoop until you get back to the starting point. Just before you get to the end, put another line of glue on the hoop. Finish wrapping the hoop and secure it with a binder clip. Set hoop aside for 15 or 20 minutes to let the glue dry. Then remove the clips and cut off any excess ribbon or lace.
Time To Weave
Next, you will weave the web. Begin by tying your yarn or string in a double or triple knot at the top of your hoop. Loop it around the hoop. Going in a clockwise direction, pull the string to a point on the hoop approximately two inches from where you started. Circle the string around your hoop and back across itself to form a hitch. Be certain to stretch the string tight in order to secure it before continuing to the next loop.
Keep looping your string around the hoop. Loop it around the entire hoop until you get back to your starting point. Be sure that all the loops are an equal distance from one another. When you get back to the starting point, circle the string around your hoop beside the starting knot. Continue weaving the web, creating the next layer. Loop your string around the center point of the first thread line. Using the same method, circle it around the string and across itself to form a hitch. Continue in this manner until you get back to your starting point.
Repeat these steps until you are left with a small circle in the center of your dreamcatcher. Be certain to stretch the string tight in order to secure the web. When the center circle is approximately the size of a dime or a penny, tie the next string with a knot rather than hitching it. Be sure that the string will not come untied by tying a double or triple knot. Trim away excess string.
Adding Your Own Flare
You may want to decorate your dreamcatcher. There are several ways to do this. One way is to thread beads into the web. This needs to be done while you are making the web. Thread a bead onto the string prior to looping and hitching it to the next string. You can place the beads randomly, or create a deliberate pattern.
You can also hang fabric strips from the bottom of your dreamcatcher. Cut your fabric into strips and tie them to the bottom of your dreamcatcher. If you like, you can adorn the strips with beads. Thread a bead on the strip and secure in place by tying a knot under the bead. You could also tie feathers onto the bottom of your dreamcatcher. Now you know how to make a dreamcatcher.
Learning how to make a dreamcatcher could be handy if you are in need of a good gift item. Presenting someone with a dreamcatcher lets that person know you care for him or her. Be sure to include a note explaining the history and importance of dreamcatchers. It is common these days to see dreamcatchers displayed throughout ones home as Native American décor. Given the significance and rich history of this craft, everyone should learn how to make a dreamcatcher.