NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art.

Also See how Toy Cattail Ducks are Made

1. Gather cattails in late summer. Separate and rinse the leaves, no center stalks are needed to make the duck. Cut above just above the water-line to leave the root of the cattail intact. Dry the separated leaves in the shade or partial sun for 1 to 3 days. Soak the leaves in warm water for a half hour to an hour before using them.


2. If the cattails are very wide, it may be necessary to split them down the middle (along the dotted line shown).


3. Cut of the brittle leaf tips, and cut off and save quite a bit of the thick end to make ties at the doll's neck and waist. Cut the remaining cattails down to half their length, or about 10 inches (bent at the center, this will be the size of a 5 inch doll).


4. To form the doll's head, bend 10 - 16 cattail strips (alternating their directions so they radiate from the top of the head) over a small cylinder (little 'pillow') of rolled up cattail. Tie tightly a piece of split cattail or other string below the doll's head, creating a neck.


5. Use a section of cattail center stalk for the arms. Place the stalk section (3 - 4 inches long) under the neck tie with a roughly equal number of leaves in front and in back of the 'arms'.


6. To form the body, use another small rolled 'pillow' of cattail under the arms (inside the leaves0 and tie the waist area tightly.


7. Flair the doll's 'skirt' slightly by spreading the cattail leaf ends. Trim the skirt ends so they are even across the bottom.

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© 1994-1999 Tara Prindle.