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Monday, August 26, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - Q is Quills

Quills from porcupines have long been used by First Nation artisans for embellishing textiles and everyday objects. They were one of the major decorative elements before the introduction of glass beads with the arrival of Europeans.

They continue to be used by today in the traditional method. Here is a look at the steps for this beautiful technique.
Porcupine in nature (from Wikipedia Commons)
Once the quills have been removed they need to be cleaned and sorted. They can be used in their natural color or they can be dyed.
Sorted dyed quills
To work with the quills they need to be soaked in water to soften them. They are also flatten before inserting them in the design.
Soaked quills ready for design
Here is the backside of the project. You can see the ends of the quill have be inserted into medallion like a staple.
First quill of the design
 The ends of the quills will be trimmed close to the medallion.
One end of quill trimmed
Continue to add quills to fill in the design.
Second quill in place
Front of medallion with two quills in place
Trimming ends as they are added
Front of the medallion showing one egg almost finished
Starting the second egg
Two eggs completed
 To create texture you can add more quills into the design in a woven fashion.
Using various colored quills to fashion a nest for the eggs
Here is finished medallion. The quillworked is stitched to a fabric back, which has been embellished with beads.
Completed medallion (worked by Naomi Smith)
Maria took these pictures during her class with Naomi Smith, First Nations bead artisan and teacher.

For more information on tradional quillwork check these websites - Nativetech, Crazy Cow and Wikipedia.

Quills can also be used as you would use a bugle bead. Here is set of earring fringed with quills.
From Bellaonline.
Happy Beading!

1 comment:

  1. Is the medallion material a piece of birch bark or leather? Did you make holes before you put the quills through the material or are the tips of the quills sharp enough to go through it?