Make a Native Quill-Decorated Feather at Museum Workshop

Joy Duff, a member of the East Band of Cherokee Indians, will teach visitors how to make a traditional Native “quilled feather” at a workshop Saturday, October 13, 2007, from 1 p.m. to 4. p.m., at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central Street (at Central Park Avenue) in northwest Evanston.

The quilled feather is an age-old art form consisting of a bird feather adorned with a length of colorful, dyed porcupine quills woven into a geometric pattern.  Native peoples have used quilled feathers as personal hair ornaments, as decorations for shields and drums, and for other purposes.

The workshop is recommended for adults and teens, because participants will work with sharp-tipped porcupine quills.

Participants will use a bow-shaped wooden loom made from a sapling to weave quills into a triangular pattern identified with Eastern Woodlands Indian cultures.  The quill weavings will be glued and tied onto eight-inch feathers. Everyone gets to keep their quilled feather.

During the workshop, Duff will also tell Native stories related to the activity.

A resident of southwest Michigan, she learned the art of quilled feathers from a Cherokee elder and has been making them for nearly 30 years. “This art goes back a very long time,” she says.

The Mitchell Museum is hosting and sponsoring the workshop in conjunction with Arts Week Evanston, October 5-14.

Admission to the workshop, including all materials, is included with a standard entrance donation to the museum.  Suggested donation is $5 for adults; $2.50 for seniors, students, and children. Maximum suggested admission per family is $10. For information, phone (847) 475-1030. On the Net: