Dreamcatchers are made by Native Americans, but they are now sold everywhere. Their exact origin is unknown, but they are thought to have first been created by the Anishinaabe people in Canada.
Dream catchers are used to catch and trap nightmares whilst allowing good dreams to travel through their feathers.
They are thought to have protective properties that guard the sleeping mind from intrusive thoughts and evil spirits. They are often seen as a symbol of unity, and different American tribes and American cultures have their own dream catcher designs and styles.
The process of creating these beautiful and intriguing objects is methodical and relaxing, and can help to unleash your inner creativity.
If you suffer from bad dreams, or have a friend or loved one who would appreciate some help sleeping, then why not try to make a dreamcatcher yourself? In this article, we cover a step-by-step guide of how to make a traditional, Native American dreamcatcher.
The Story of the Spider Woman
The story goes that the original design for a dreamcatcher was inspired by a spider’s web. Many, many years ago, a tribe woman who loved to look after the children of her tribe noticed how many of the children were suffering from bad dreams.
One night, the bad dreams stopped, and in the morning she noticed that a large spider had formed her web over the beds of the sleeping children.
The tribes woman saw how the spider web trapped evil flies and bugs, yet allowed fresh air and moonlight to pass through freely.
She decided to fashion her own kind of web from threads and feathers that would catch nightmares before they entered the heads of the children, but let sweet dreams float on through the net and travel down the feathers which dangle beneath.
Thus, the first dreamcatcher was created. She became known as the Spider Woman.
How Do You Make Your Own Traditional Dream Catcher?
These days dreamcatchers are available to buy from stores and online, but making your own is fun and creative. Handmade dreamcatchers make excellent gifts for friends and loved ones, and they are all the more meaningful because they have been crafted by you.
The process is simple enough for children to try, and making dreamcatchers is a great activity to do with little ones. You can customize your own dream catcher by choosing your favorite colors or symbols, and they look fantastic when hung above your bed or on your wall once made.
How to Make a Traditional Dream Catcher
What You Need
Willow Wood Hoop
Traditional dream catchers are made using a hoop fashioned from willow wood or wood sinew. If you want to stay true to the original formula then try to get your hands on a length of this kind of flexible wood from a local garden store or forest.
However, you can use any type of supple wood that is available, or alternatively, you can use a metal hoop which will be a more sturdy and durable option.
The dreamcatcher hoop will need to be wrapped and for this you must select a long length of material. traditional dream catchers were wrapped in leather, so a long thin strip of suede, leather, or buckskin will be the most authentic choice.
However, you can use a strip of cotton, silk, ribbon, or any other material you like. The wrapping must be no thicker than a shoelace in width, and you generally need to have eight-times the length of wrapping as the diameter of your hoop.
Strong String or Thread
Thirdly, you will need a ball of thread or sting to form the webbing within your catcher. This can be hemp, silk thread, cotton, nylon or yarn. just make sure that whatever thread you choose is strong and flexible.
Feathers and Beads
Lastly, you should pick out some decorations to adorn your dream catcher. These are what will make it personal to you so choose sentimental decorations that have meanings close to your heart. You can pick some beads or stones, just make sure that the beads and ornaments you pick can be threaded onto string.
And, of course, no dream catcher is complete without feathers. Traditionally, eagle feathers are not used on dreamcatchers, but popular choices include peacock feathers, duck, goose, and owl feathers. Choose colors and textures that appeal to you.
Step 1: Wrap Your Willow Hoop
To wrap your wooden hoop you simply need to use some standard craft glue or a hot glue gun. beginning at the bottom of your hoop, fasten the end of your leather wrapping strip to the wooden hoop with a generous dollop of glue and then proceed to wind the wrapping around and around the wood until you reach the point where you first started.
Don’t be shy or sparing with your glue, as the more you use the better the wrapping will stick, and it will dry clear in any case. Some people like to fasten the wrapping with clips and leave the craft clips in place until the glue has completely set.
Step 2: String Your Dreamcatcher
The exact design of any dreamcatcher web can be as unique and individual as you are, but some basic guidelines can be followed to help you on your way. Firstly, secure your string to the hoop by tying a tight knot.
Next, allow the string to loop loosely before securing it again to the hoop a small distance along. Continue to loop and secure until your sting forms a drooping frill around the inside of your wooden hoop.
You can now begin to attach the loops to each other by threading the sting across the hoop at different angles. As you draw the string through each hanging loop and connect the threads, you will gradually move closer to the center of the hoop.
Step 3: Thread Beads
Before your dreamcatcher is completed, you should thread some small beads onto the innermost loops. Once this is done, you can work the thread back to the hoop and tie it off securely. Your dreamcatcher should now have a web of threads across it, with some delicate beads adorning the center.
Step 4: Dangling Feathers
Now it is time to attach the all important feathers to your catcher. Use leftover strips of leather, additional strips of ribbon, or your thread to create tassels along the bottom edge of the hoop. These tassels can dangle down at differing lengths, and you can attach beads and stones to them to add weight and texture.
Your feathers should be secured onto the ends of the longest lengths, so that good dreams can travel down them and seep into your mind as you sleep.
Now that your dreamcatcher is complete, you should think about where you wish to hang it. Traditionally, dreamcatchers are designed to hang over people’s beds, but you can hang yours over a baby’s cradle like a mobile, or over a favorite rocking chair to inspire creative thoughts in all who sit there. The choice is yours.