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Saturday, September 5, 2015

New sewing piece, The Plains Warbonnet, using Barry Hardins book

 In the above photo you see the components to the making of a war bonnet. The beaded head strip was originally started last year. I learned I am not so good at beadwork, so I set it aside for awhile. The desire to finish what I started took over last month, so I returned to the project. Making a war bonnet is both a time and financial project, so it needed to be made into something. The first step is making the crown out of brain tanned buckskin. It is not easy to find this kind of soft and thin leather. There was a small piece of it on etsy, so I bought it. The bonnet requires 36 feathers, they are turkey feathers dyed and painted to resemble eagle feathers.
There are laws concerning use of eagle feathers by non native persons, so turkey is the substitute. As turkey feathers are shorter and narrower, they have to be extended at the base and fluffs of feathers are put there to cover the wood extensions.
Each feather is then wrapped with a piece of rawhide on the end to make a stiff loop, and covered with red wool fabric. The wool is then wrapped with thread. These are called "firecrackers." They look great on the bonnet, but are a bit tedious to paint!
Here is a sad little flat ermine. Not to worry, they are not endangered, and it helps keep the rodent population under control by using their pelts. These are cut into strips, sewn into tubes and used for the rosette dangles. My ermines were so tiny, I used additional ermine tails to extend their lengths.
Here you see them attached to the beaded rosettes.
These are brass hawk bells at the base of the firecracker. Many of the historical bonnets had some type of hawk bell or brass embellishment.
The view of the back bonnet, each feather is pierced above the firecracker and threaded to maintain the oblong structure of the bonnet.
Each feather is tipped with real horsehair and a wool dot piece. Our house looked like a petting zoo while this was going on. There was wool, horsehair, feathers, and leather all over the place.
Here is the finished bonnet. I used a great book picked up last year on the trip with my Dad to Montana. The author is Barry Hardin. I found it clear and easy to use.
If you follow the process, and allow enough time to work each part step by step, you can achieve a good looking authentic war bonnet. I have to admit being proud of my first attempt at this type of millinery skill.
My model Miguel looks fantastic in the headpiece. He is a student at Watts Atelier.

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