Porcupine Quillwork

Native American porcupine quillwork is an embroidery done only in North America.

Porcupine quillwork was used to form elaborate decorative designs. These designs were put onto the skins and hides of animals caught by Native Americans. Quillwork is often found on both rawhide and tanned hides. However, in the 1800s quilled birch bark boxes became popular. It was an item traded to the White People for furs during the fur trade era.

The quills that are used to embroider pieces are typically two to four inches long, flattened and dyed. The tips are clipped off and the quills easily absorb the dye colors that were obtained by a number of natural and organic materials. Applique, wrapping and loom weaving are three of the techniques used in porcupine quillwork.

Although quillwork is not as used today as beads and other sewing materials. However, as an art form, it is still very much alive. The Northern Plains tribes still come out with amazing pieces of this art form, using styles from the past that keep up with their incredible traditions.

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