Native American Technology and Art

Instructions for
Split Willow Stick Deer

Use a single freshly picked willow branch (at least 40 inches long). Split the branch from the narrow end to about 2 inches from the wide end. The intact, wide end will be the deer's rear leg.

1. The deer's body is made from the two halves ['A' and 'B'] of the single willow branch.

Bend one half of the branch ['A'] at a right angle just above the split (this makes the deer's back). Leaving 2 inches for the back, bend 'A' again at a right angle down to make the front leg.

Finally bend the branch 'A' back against itself to finish the front leg and make the deer's neck.
2. Leaving about two inches for the deer's neck and head, bend the branch 'A' back on itself. Where the neck meets the back, bend the branch at a right angle.

Now begin wrapping the branch 'A' down around the body, from the chest to the rump of the deer and around and around.

3. Finish wrapping 'A' down around the body. Wrap around the body 7 times or until the branch half 'A' runs out.

Tuck or weave the end of 'A' back up into the body wrapping. This will be covered by another layer of wrapping, so it will not show.

4. Now start using the other half of the branch 'B', that is sticking up from the deer's rump. Begin wrapping 'B' around the body, Starting at the rump and working across towards the deer's chest.

5. Finish tightly wrapping the body with the 'B' half of the branch, about 12 wraps.
You still need about 12 inches of split willow branch to finish the deer. If your piece isn't long enough, then this is a good time to weave the end of 'B' into the body wrappings below the deer's chest.

This secures the body while you shape the head.

6. Shape the 'U'-shaped part of the branch that sticks out from the deer's chest into a head. Bend the 'U' into a figure '4'

Add a new piece of split willow 'C' about 12 inches long. Tuck the end of 'C' into the body wrappings where 'B' was tucked in.

7. Wrap 'C' twice around the chest. This helps hold the neck in place.

8. Using 'C' continue wrapping, up the neck twice, and around the nose three times.

9. Now wrap 'C' back down the head three times.

10. Wrap 'C' over the head in an 'X' pattern.

11. Wrap 'C' three times, from the deer's head and down the neck.

12. Lastly, wrap 'C' around the chest, making a figure '8' around the deer's front leg and neck.

Tuck the end of 'C' into the wrappings around the deer's neck.

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© 1994-1999 Tara Prindle.