NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art.
Also See the Instructions for Miniature Birchbark Fans

1. Use heavy scissors and cut 2 pieces of flattened stiff bark [about 6 " square]. Cut a paper pattern first to ensure both pieces are the same size and shape.

* remove any badly damaged or peeling layers from the papery side of both pieces.

2. Apply a generous strip of white glue on the papery side, near the top edge of both pieces of bark.

3. Select 5 to 7 large or medium size [game bird] feathers to ornament the fan. Bird-of-prey and song-bird feathers are illegal to own without a special government permit.

4. Arrange feathers, smallest to largest, and place on the fan, so the feathers overlap only slightly, in the order shown. Place the largest feather last in the center of the fan.

5. Lay the second sheet of bark, [woody side showing], over the first sheet with the feathers secured between the two layers with glue.

6. For the fan's handle, use an 8-10 in. stick. With a coping saw or knife, carefully make a 4-5 in. split from one end down the center of the stick. [Make sure the split is wide enough to accomodate the thickness of the two sheets of bark].

7. Carefully insert the glued bark sheets into the split in stick.

8. Use an awl or large pointed yarn needle to poke 10 holes through both layers of bark so the holes form a sideways "w" pattern on either side of the stick handle.

9. Knot the end of a 16" string or secure the string end between the bark and the split handle. Use a needle and stitch around through the holes and back to where the first stitch was made. Then stitch back around in the opposite direction, [to make the stitches appear continuous].

10. Finish by knotting the string or securing the end of the string between the bark and the split in the handle.

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© 1994 - Tara Prindle
unless otherwise cited.