Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rajasthani Jewelry

Quill Jewellery
Quills are dyed in colour using natural or commercial dyes. Quills can be used in full length or cut into small pieces and be pieced by width.
Porcupines are members of the rodent family and are covered with special hairs called quills. Quills are hard on the outside and spongy on the inside, making them useful for many kinds of craftwork. The sharp needle-like tips of the quills are covered in hundreds of tiny barbs which can imbed themselves easily in the unwary handler. Quills can be left their natural white color, or can be dyed in various colors. Quills are used in traditional forms of decoration by Native Americans who have access to these quills in the colder-northerly natural range of the porcupine. Sometimes the quills are wrapped onto fringe and rawhide strips, or sewed onto leather for embroidered clothing and accessories, or stapled through birchbark to decorate boxes or ornaments.
A young Paiute man, a student at the Carlisle School, was questioned as to his knowledge of porcupine-quill work among his people. His request for materials being complied with, he fashioned an ornament as illustrated… This is made of sections of quills cut in equal lengths and threaded as one would string beads, with a piece of leather between the sections of quills. According to his statement, it is an old form of decoration among his people, was sometimes made several feet in length, and was used as part of a woman's headdress.
Quills are also used in elegant jewelry, and many of the techniques for stringing quills into necklaces, bracelets & chokers and earrings are easy to learn. It is not necessary to soak and soften quills before using them for threaded jewelry (as you do for other types of quill-embroidery). It is, however, necessary to cut off both sharp, tapered ends of the porcupine quill - when making threaded quill jewelry, take care in discarding the dangerous tips of the quills.
For sturdy, long lasting strung quill jewelry, it is best cut your quills to ¾ of an inch or shorter. The thickest quills, the ones with the fattest diameter, are great for strung quill jewelry. Quills can be combined with tiny beads such as glass 'seed' beads, or other beads made from metal, wood or shell. The only restraint on the size of the beads used is that holes in these beads should not be so large that the threaded quills slip inside them. Some types of quill jewelry combine several strands of quills and beads, held in parallel rows and kept separate with leather 'spacers'.
One-strand necklaces are probably the simplest threaded jewelry to make. To make a necklace, cut the quills to equal lengths, and string them on, separating the quills from each other by string on small glass, metal, wood or shell beads. Such necklaces are quite beautiful when several strands are worn at once.

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