Boni Bent Nelson, an award-winning artist of Cherokee descent, will teach the traditional craft of porcupine quillwork at a workshop from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston.
The decorative use of dyed porcupine quills for embroidery on buckskin, birch bark, and other materials is unique to Native cultures of North America.
Class participants will learn how to sew porcupine quills to leather and construct a small neck bag to take home. Basic porcupine quill embroidery techniques and beadwork will be covered. A variety of quills and beads will be available.
During the six-hour workshop, participants will also hear about the history of quillwork and the Native cultures that practice it.
An Indiana resident, Nelson is a board member of the National Center for Great Lakes Native American Culture. She and her quillwork were featured in Native Peoples Magazine in a 2005 article on artists leading the revival of once-dying arts and crafts techniques. The magazine called her &ldquo among the finest living practitioners of this rare craft.&rdquo
Nelson describes herself as &ldquo a quillworker in the old tradition.&rdquo A Cherokee elder taught her how to pluck, clean, and dye the sharp hollow quills from road-kill porcupines. She has demonstrated her craft at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, where some of her quill pieces are part of the teaching collection. She travels widely, giving quill demonstrations and talks at powwows and at colleges and universities.
The Mitchell Museum workshop is limited to 12 participants, ages eight and older. Those interested are advised to preregister by January 12 by phoning the museum. The workshop might be repeated on Sunday, January 20, if the Saturday session is sold out.
The workshop fee is $35 per person, which includes all materials, tools, and instruction. In addition, regular museum admission fees apply.
Mitchell Museum admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children (ages 1- 17), students (with ID), teachers (with ID), and seniors (age 65+). Museum admission is free for Mitchell Museum members and tribal members.