Ravenous Craft

Dream Catcher Wreaths

Mallory LanceComment

This craft draws inspiration from the Native American cultures, as well as the pagan traditions of assembling yule wreaths incorporating greenery and elements from nature in a circular shape to represent the pagan wheel. Since this December moon corresponds to the winter solstice, we wanted to incorporate the annual tradition of making yule wreaths.

Let me start this out by recognizing that dreamcatchers are a craft deeply rooted in the spiritual observance of many native tribes. Lately the mainstream culture has co opted and appropriated a lot of native iconography and presents it completely separate from its roots as something fashionable or trendy. We must all recognize this as a problem. If you're not familiar with this concept, it's never too late to educate yourself. Jezebel has a pretty decent primer on cultural appropriation here.

As such, there is still room to learn trades and craftsmanship as tied to spiritual observance and understanding of history. In our crafting, we seek to learn more about the cultures we're learning crafts from in order to keep them alive and in the current dialogue rather than let them succumb to the steamroller of mainstream Western culture. By keeping a spirited remembrance and veneration for indigenous cultures while at the same time respecting that we cannot co opt their cultures, we can deepen our roots of understanding and make efforts to not be part of the problem. There is so much beauty to be learned from cultures that respected the Earth and the natural world and the divine feminine, and we seek to return to that spirit.

And lastly, before we get into the craft, I want to clarify that this is in no way a representation of the traditional methodology employed in making dream catchers. I purposely chose to change around the vision of the final product, while incorporating natural elements, to be reflective of the patchwork of different cultures including the pagan tradition of a yule wreath to celebrate the circular life cycle of the year. For a traditional dream catcher made the traditional native ways, please support native tribes and buy from native craftspeople. And whatever you do, please don't buy home decorations from Urban Outfitters or another corporate giant, as they steal from artists and are hugely problematic in their appropriation.

What you'll need:

  • branches of willow or other sapling branches that are supple enough to be trained into a hoop
  • thread to train the branches
  • sinew
  • leather scraps to wrap around the hoops (optional)
  • plants, antlers, or feathers to affix to the hoop
  • beads, vertebrae, or shells with holes that can be strung through the sinew to represent the spider in the web
  • scissors or a knife

1. Take a branch from a sapling and test it by wrapping it around itself as a hoop. If it snaps, it's not supple enough. If it yields, twist it around itself so that it forms a circle. Then wrap it with thread or sinew to train it into this shape while it dries out. You can make these of many shapes and sizes.

2. At this point you may wrap the hoops with leather scrap if you so desire. Wrap the leather around and affix it by tying tight bits of thread or sinew at the loose ends. Assemble your elements you'll be using to complete the dream catchers.

3. Tie the sinew you'll be using for the web part, tightly at an anchor point.

4. Leaving about a 2-4 inch space, loop the sinew around another anchor point on the loop, from front to back, while holding the loop you made taut. 

5. Bring the spool of sinew back through the loop from front to back, while holding the loop taut.

6. Pull the sinew tight.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until the whole hoop is covered. Then loop your spool of sinew in through the slack left between the first two entry points. 

You want to remember to keep it all taut.

8. Pull the sinew through, then bring the spool through the loop you just made from front to back, as in step 5. Pull it taut as you move on to the next loop.

9. Continue this process, going clockwise around the dreamcatcher and looping the sinew through each loop left, remembering to pull it taut all the while. After about 3 or 4 rounds, you may want to add a bead, bone, or shell. Just string it on the sinew and continue the process.

10. When you're ready to finish it off, pull tight at your last anchor point. Tie it around itself to form a small knot.

11. Create one more knot by looping it around itself and pulling tight.as in the pictures above.

12. Then snip off the little tail at the end and you're all set.

13. Next, you will adorn the edges of your hoop with greenery from nature, bones, and other natural elements as you see fit. To do this, Lay out the design you want to make. 

14. Then tie some sinew, tightly,  on various anchor points. Once you're done tying everything off, snip off the tails. You're all finished! Hang it on your wall, preferably above your bed.