Tanning Hides and Stitching Beads

A pair of traditional Sioux-style moccasins I made, right down to the leather.

I’ve been deep in the recesses of product line planning since I blogged last, and today I went back to school after the holiday break. It occurred to me that you all might tire (if you haven’t already) of reading about miniatures and stuff like that. Because honestly, it’s a pretty narrow category to post on. I’ve also recently decided to do WordPress’s “Post a Week” challenge, in which, you guessed it, I post according to a prompt of theirs’ once a week. And today’s was “What makes you smile?” These moccasins make me smile. My dad and I are both bow hunters, and he shot a deer last New Year’s Eve. We decided to go for it and tanned the hide the old Native American braintan way. We scraped off the hair, soaked the skin in lime, and then eventually in eggs (our stand-in brain). The hide was then stretched by hand for the length of one whole Winter Olympic event (I don’t remember which, honestly).

I went on to cut out a pattern of my foot, based on a book we had in our shelves downstairs. I stitched the beads you see above directly onto the leather (and not without some serious pain, I might add), based on my Ojibwe friend’s instruction. The beadwork designs are Sioux-style, partially because my grandparents live near the Yankton Sioux reservation, and partially because they were the ones I liked the best.

When all the beadwork was finished (I calculated that there were 4000 beads per moccasin), I sewed a heavier piece of leather on as soles and then stitched the whole thing up. I’d say that the moccasin construction piece took me 40 hours, but it was so worth it. The moccasins are toasty warm, warmer than slippers. If I could afford to spend that much time on a project, you can bet that I’d be selling those for people too!


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