Here I Am, Seamstress and Crafter Extra Ordinaire!

Here I am making some Love Bead necklaces, it's a challenge doing crafts in an RV, but if you stay organized and don't get too carried away with supplies, you can get a lot done in a short time!

Here are the necklaces I have put together, I have been collecting glass trade beads for years so I opted to make some necklaces for presents and such...these aren't anything fancy, but it helps pass the time when the weather isn't letting us play outside.
Eastern One Shoulder Elk Hide Dress

Also, I have made three hide dresses this Winter, two for myself and one for a friend, below you can see my latest creation, we like to work on the messy projects outside, as you can see Doyle in the back round working on his shell carving.

We set our 10X10 Cabella tent up outside under the awning for better shade control, we sure have had a really nice warm Winter to play outside!

Here is a picture we took at Talbot State Park, just outside of Jacksonville. It's remarkable how a beach that is just five minutes out of town can be so primitive and beautiful!

It's been wonderful to fully life life like there is no tomorrow, after Doyle's surgery last year we didn't know if we were even going to have a future together, so we've been living each day like it was our last and having fun while we can.

We've been all over Florida beach combing, visiting museums and doing historical research.

So I guess I've blathered on enough to let you all know we are doing great, loving our life on the road and every day is a new adventure we can't wait to check out!

See you on the road!

Doyle Makes Historically Accurate Conch and Whelk Shell Jewelry and Beads

Four Eyes Working on a Shell Primitive Pendant
 I can remember posting a picture last year of the table top full of shells we had collected on various Florida Beaches and people responding, "What are you going to do with all those shells?", a valid question considering our limited space in our RV home.

Well, this is what Doyle does with them, we have been going to museums and studying pre contact clothing and accessories for years now and Finally Doyle has had the time to take a crack at creating some of his own Pre contact Bling.

We needed some accessories for our clothing I am working on for teaching purposes and what was available out there in internet land was daunting to say the least.

Well made, historically accurate pieces made by our friends, Craig Shell Carver and Dan Townsend were way beyond our reach financially for our teaching purposes, but well worth it if you want the best and we recommend them heartily! They are both wonderful people who share their knowledge with anyone who wants to know more about pre contact shell adornment and are true artists in their own right. But we just needed some educational pieces and so we kept looking...

Pieces available on ebay and such are all mostly fakes from foriegn lands claiming to be originals, (funny how all those originals have exactly the same dirty patina on all of them, and if they are a countries true antiquities, why isn't the government after them for selling thier history?) I have to laugh at the descriptions.."Ancient artifacts from Buddhist Monks buried through the ages only to be discovered and featured here on ebay..." Yeah, right. National Geographic is going to be all over that...So anyhooo...

It turns out my talented and wonderful Mate was at one time a Master Goldsmith and it was no trouble at all for him to dust of his engraving skills and make me some Bling from the Woodland Era Native Tribes. He is truly enjoying his new found hobby and is turning out carved Conch and Whelk shells like there is no tomorrow! Here is some of his work...
Conch and Whelk Shell Pendants he has created this Winter in various stages of completion

 These are large conch shell beads that were very popular in their time, they were actually considered currency among Tribal Peoples, and if so, then we are very rich in deed! They are wonderful to hold and wear, there is nothing quite so nice as a real live shell shaped into something beautiful....

Conch Shell and Whelk Beads he is working on

Finished Conch Shell and Whelk Beads
The Master at work outside
 Doyle would like to add to this discourse that he always wears a protective breathing mask when working in shell, except when he is wet sanding, as shown above. Shell dust can shut your lungs down forever, (much like asbestos), so if you do plan on cutting shell, take the proper precautions!
Outdoor work area where masterpieces are created
This is just a small sample of the things Doyle has been creating, we collected many totes of proper shell on the beaches of Florida, (a glorious pastime in its own right!), and look forward to may years of creating and showing off his wonderful talents!

One Shoulder Eastern Tribal Elk Hide Dress...

Here's my latest dress, a nice little number of the Eastern Pre Contact one shoulder variety. It's made from vegetable tanned Elk hide suede. It has a left shoulder cape for covering the left arm on cool summer nights. The cape is not quite finished yet, I still have to cut the fringe into a curved edge as Eastern Tribes did pre contact. You can see on the dress I have already done this.

It's incredibly comfortable and light, I could wear this all day, and I just might! I am making this dress to wear in the kitchen, since this particular leather is actually washable, (we'll see!).

I had a great time making it outside on the porch while Doyle works on his shells...

We have been having such a great time this Winter in Florida, it's hard to imagine going back to Wisconsin, but soon we must pack up and head up for our annual Spring and Summer Events...hope to see you at one soon!

Here are some pictures that this dress design is based on... 
Fringe and sleeve depicted were used....a male figure, but would have been worn by a female too

Dagget type fringe and showing length of garment
Another type of one shoulder dress and dagget fringe

Another depiction of the one shoulder design, albiet romanticized..

Eastern Wampanoag Style One Shoulder Two Hide Dress

Front of Dress
While making Sheila's dress, I was also working on a sportier version of what I thought the well dressed East Coast Native Woman was wearing. It features a shorter hemline and little or no sleeve on the left arm.

I also constructed it from modern leather as there were so many problems I had to work out, I wasn't going to use good Brain Tan on what was mostly an experiment and could have very well have failed in the execution.

I started this dress before attempting Sheila's and I am very surprised how nice it came out. I got a bit carried away with the fringe but it was there, so I cut it, thinking I could always trim it down later if I like. (The blue strap T shirt on the form has nothing to do with the dress, I use it to hold the cover in place and give me a more pinnable surface). I also left the skirt a little longer and the fringe a bit shorter, I like a little more coverage on the leg.

This garment, I feel, at least in construction, if not style, better reflects the day to day wear of the Native Peoples of the East Coast. Of Course, they may have worn it with one breast exposed, but today's conventions require a bit more modesty if one is to go out in public.

Mia's dress being measured and repaired
Back of Dress

Me modelling Mia's dress after repairs
This dresses basic construction comes from a dress lent to me by my friend Mia, who had a dress gifted to her by Tribal Peoples, I did some repairs to it for her and she let me take notes on it's construction for later reproduction.

The dress was assembled using artificial sinew and a simple welted seam up each side using a Tandy sewing awl, as this was how Mia's Dress was constructed.

I left the shoulder fold over on and stitched it up to create a short sleeve, this is what was on Mia's dress originally, but had been cut off before it ever came to her. Hers had also been changed by adding a button closure at the top of the fold over sleeve at one point.

This is one of those projects that only took a coupe days and was made because I had the hide laying around and could see that it needed to be this dress. I didn't have enough leather to make a sleeve or cape for the other arm, but have a lovely white fox stole that should compliment the leather quite nicely. I imagine I will sew on seed beads or pearls when I get the chance...
Left Side
Right Side

Dancing The One Shoulder Dress

Finally, Sheila's dress is essentially done and gets to wear her dress at the Mt. Dora Powwow in Florida.

Here she is with the shawl removed and tied at the waist.

Every once in a while you meet someone like Sheila, who is just as excited about your projects as you are.

She will take you call at early morn or late at night when you are bone tired and finger sore, frustrated beyond all hope of ever finishing what you have begun.

Just when you are ready to throw in the towel, she calls and has found just what you need, or had found someone to help in the project.

She never lets you quit or backslide, she is always holding the hot iron to your feet.

I look forward to many more years of research with my lovely friend, we already have at least three more dresses to make, a Native Girdle, (belt), a Headdress or two and we want to goof around with a fiber set of shoes too.

What a Gal, what a friend.
Here she is getting ready to take part in the "Round Dance", (Sheila was so excited, she forgot her moccasins, but she looks so good in her new dress, no one will even notice!

This was a great project that I enjoyed more than I can say.

Sheila has been my inspiration and support as I have plodded my way through tons of historical documentation looking for the Sauratown dress, and others).

When I was lost or confused or just plain fed up with the lack of information, or if my path was blocked with paperwork, she pushed me on encouraged my endeavors

Although the true Sauratown dress was probably a great deal more brief in design and function, Sheila wanted this dress made this way to fit her dream and since I wouldn't ever say no to her wishes after all she has done for me!

As you can see below, this dress surely can dance and did!
This dress can dance!
Later we will be adding shell bead work and a headdress, but for now at least, she gets to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Now, on to finishing my Elk Two Hide Dress!

Fringing and Finishing The Dress

 After marking the boundary edges with masking tape, I cut fringe for about three days.

Sheila really wanted the "dagget" look on the hem, so it was easily marked and added.

Later a row of shell beads will accent this hem, following the triangles.

Here it is, all fringed, Sheila chose not to cut the fringe short, but leave as much of the hide intact as possible.

The upper edge was given a fold over look by tucking the fringe edge up and under.

A strap was added under the fold that wraps under the arm and crosses under the folded edge at the upper shoulder. This gives a little extra hold for the bust edge at the armpit. It can be tied, but is currently just pinned because someone needed to get out and dance.....isn't all our regalia held together with pins anyway? Be truthful now! Honestly, the most valuable person at the Powwow is a person with a pocket full of safety pins!

Here is the dress with the cape over one shoulder, acting as the separate sleeve.

I added another strip of fringe to the fold over edge of the cape to balance out the collar.

And now... to the dance!


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