Learn to Make Native American Dreamcatchers
Anyone can make a Dreamcatcher. Dream Catchers are based on Native American traditions. One tradition is that a Dream Catcher is hung over the bed, or sleeping area to protect the person from bad dreams. Another is that with a belief in the Great Spirit this allows the Dream Catcher to hold all of your visions and good dreams. How the Dream Catcher works is dependent on what you believe, and the traditions you follow. That is the Indian way, but for many the Dream Catcher is no more than an Art piece to display that can be found in Galleries, eBay, Pow Wow’s or while on vacation to a nearby Tourist area like the Grand Canyon.
Ever wondered how to make a Dreamcatcher, or what the story is behind them? Below you will find easy to follow directions, and a video showing how to make a contemporary Dream Catcher, as well as watch and listen to someone making a Traditional one.
Dreamcatcher Images Copyright: Kathy McGraw
Many people say “make a dream catcher”, but it is also appropriate to say “make a dreamcatcher” (dreamcatcher as 1 word). I have used both in this tutorial.
Making Unique Dream Catchers
What does it take to make a dreamcatcher?
I used to make customized Medicine Wheels and Dream Catchers for people. I only made one of any kind, and although the basic design was similar, the power and adornment of each sometimes took days, or weeks. Getting a feel of the person in order to incorporate their power into the design is the most time consuming part for me. But this is what makes your Dream Catcher unique; you are represented in it.
Everyone makes their dreamcatcher in their own way, and that is what you should do.
Native American Indian Flute Music CD
When I am working on a piece I usually have some music on. It soothes my own spirit, and sets the tone for my work. Carlos Nakai is one of my favorite American Indian Flute Music composers. I have several of his CD’s and they are quite peaceful.
Picture Of One Of My Earliest Dream Catchers
This Dreamcatcher was made for my son when he was in the Military
What is the History of a Dreamcatcher
Learn the Dreamcatcher Legend
History shows us that Dream Catchers originated in the Anishinabe/Ojibwe/Chippewa Nation. All 3 of these names are for the same Nation. Anishinabe means “Original Person” and is what they call themselves, never having recognized the American version of their name; Chippewa. Ojibwe is the French Canadian version of the name.
One Legend has it the Anishinabe or Ojibwe people were experiencing bad nightmares and a vision of a web around a hoop. They then experimented with bending red willow for the hoop and making a web with a hole in the middle. A feather was tied to the hole to allow the bad dreams to flow through, and the good dreams were caught in the web.
Another story is that the Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) brought the missing sun back to the people. When the Anishinabe/Ojibwe people migrated they then made circular hoops (representing the circular motion of the sun) from Willow trees, and used sinew or cordage made from plants to make the web. These were hung on babies cradle boards to get rid of the bad dreams and only allow good ones to pass through the center of the web. The bad dreams would be destroyed by the first rays of the sun.
Today Dream Catchers are made by many different Nations, and non Indians alike. The Contemporary Dream Catcher is not made of Willow, but of a metal hoop, and is basically just an Art Decoration to many people.
Materials For Making a Dreamcatcher
materials to make a dream catcher easy
It is pretty easy to make your own Native American Indian dreamcatcher, just follow the steps here and personalize it however you want. It will only take a couple hours (maybe less) to finish, depending on skill level. Kids have a harder time in the beginning learning to do the initial loops of the web, but once they get started they can do it, and just need help finishing the center of the dreamcatcher web.
Metal Hoop – For the small dreamcatchers (keychain or rear view mirror size) a 3-4″ hoop. For a bigger size a 10″ hoop is good.
Leather Cord – This is for wrapping the hoop, and for adding feathers and beads.
Artificial Sinew – This is what the web of the dreamcatcher is made from.
Beads – You can use the beads on the leather strips that hang down, but you can also incorporate beads into the actual web design.
Feathers – The feathers are used on the strips of leather you put the beads on.
Scissors – These are the only things other than the materials for the dreamcatcher you will need.
Making a Dream Catcher Step-by-Step:
I always have my vision first. Who am I making it for, what color scheme am I going to attempt, and do I know this person well enough to meditate on their personal power.
So, Step 1 is preparing yourself. Set the tone, put on some inspirational music.
Gather materials, and start by wrapping the hoop. You will need enough leather to completely cover the hoop starting it by going over and under (keep a strip about an inch or so long that later you will tie so it will hang). Keep wrapping the leather until you have come back to your original starting point.
*** Watch the Video after Step 3 to show you how to wrap your dream catcher.
The next part is making the web. A Dream Catcher is like a spider’s web. And if you are using sinew you will feel the sticky part of it.
*** Start by going over the hoop, then a few inches apart bring the sinew over and then under for the next loop. You do this continuously until you have a hole in the center of your web. This is when you will tie it off. Using a lighter or scissors work for getting rid of the extra piece of sinew you will have.
Illustrative Video on Making Indian Dream Catchers
This Video will give you a good overview of how to make a simple Dream Catcher…this is the basic form you will use for anything in the contemporary designs. Traditional Dream Catchers only use natural materials like Grape Vines for the hoop.
Dreamcatchers for Kids
What is a fake Dream Catcher?
There aren’t, in my opinion, any fake Dream Catchers. Many people make them for sale, but if you want a “real” Dream Catcher made by a Native American then you need to look for a tag saying they are Native made, or Indian made.
People make Dream Catchers pretty much everywhere; around almost every Indian reservation in the US and Canada. You can also find them at Pow Wow’s (Native American Get Together), and near a lot of the Tourist areas in the Southwestern States.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization. (Information from the Department of Interior)
The term “Indian” as used under the Act includes its market synonym “Native American.” If you are concerned that your Dream Catcher or any other Indian Art is not made in China or anywhere else, ask! In order to be an “authentic Indian made” piece find out who created it. Many Internet sites sell mass produced pieces, so be careful if this is of concern to you.
Making Contemporary and Popular Dreamcatcher Art
How to make duct tape dreamcatchers and a dreamcatcher pendant
Mandalas are symmetrical like a Dream Catcher and these
beautiful pages once colored make beautiful displays in
your window, just like the Dreamcatcher ones. Fun and
relaxing activity that rewards you with a decoration for
your room or other area of your home.
Color your own Dreamcatcher, or give this gorgeous
coloring book as a gift. Many people enjoy coloring
pages and these Dreamcatcher designs might also
give you some motivation or ideas to be used when
designing your own dream catcher.