The first handmade gift I ever received was a dreamcatcher my mother made for me. I remember thinking it must have taken days to make, it looked so complicated. Truth is there not that complicated at all. I am going to show you how to make a dreamcatcher in just a couple easy steps.
Traditionally, the Sioux constructed dreamcatchers by tying sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow (in a way roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing). The resulting “dream-catcher”, hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping children from nightmares. Im going to show you a simple design that has been used for over a thousand years, but first I want to share The Legend of the DreamCatcher.
Long ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web.
He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life; how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. “But”, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, “in each time of life there are many forces; some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they’ll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature.” While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web.
When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, “The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole.” The elder passed on his vision to the people and now many Indian people hang a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good is captured in the web of life and carried with the people, but the evil in their dreams drops through the hole in the center of the web and is no longer a part of their lives. It’s said that the dream catcher holds the destiny of the future.
In this tutorial im using a 4 inch brass ring and about 5 feet of sinew. Start with a square knot and space loops around the ring keeping them tight as you go. Go all the way around the ring and meet up with the knot.
Now continue going around in the same fashion, but loop around the string so your gradually working your way to the middle. Always keep your loops tight as you go. Add beads sparingly wherever you like as you get closer to the middle. Once your close to middle, tie off the sinew with a square knot and cut the remaining strand off.
Decorating your DreamCatcher
I always like to decorate mine with beads and feathers since it gives them more of a “native american” look when your finished. Just start with some leather lace and do a wrap all the way around the ring and connect the 2 ends with a bead and some glue.
We also connected lace on the sides with beads and turkey feathers to finish it off. To hang your dreamcatcher, you could braid some sinew or use more lace and add a few beads like we did.