Native american artwork. Usually circular, with a web woven around inside it, to the center where there is a small hole. hanging off the bottom of the circle is a feather, or feathers.

The legend does that if you hang a dreamcatcher over your bed, the bad dreams will get caught in the web and burn off with the sunrise, but the good dreams will trickle down into the feathers right to the dreamer.

A dreamcatcher is a magical Native American device, made in a spiderweb-pattern around a circular wooden hoop.
The Legend of the Dreamcatcher involves an old grandmother, her rash and impetuous grandson, and a magical spider. The grandmother, Nokomis had been watching ths spider for days as he spun his web next to her bed. One day, her grandson, No-keegwa came into the room as she was watching the spider, and stomped over, shoe in hand, to smash it. Nokomis stopped him, protecting the defenseless the spider, and, in return, the spider offered her a gift.
"Soon the moon glistened on a magical silvery web moving gently in the window. "See how I spin?" he said. "See and learn, for each web will snare bad dreams. Only good dreams will go through the small hole. This is my gift to you. Use it so that only good dreams will be remembered. The bad dreams will become hopelessly entangled in the web."

Or, How to make one, with variations:

First, prepare yourself for a visit to the craft store. Unless you live in a funky urban neighborhood with an equally funky craft store (like, say, Cambridge, MA and Pearl Arts and Craft) you'll need to be steeled against the inevitability that there will be lots of dames in polyester pants and Precious Moments sweatshirts giving you the old hairy eyeball.

Also, the people who work in craft stores are generally either a) complete sadists who will pretend they haven't the faintest idea what you're looking for and enjoy your discomfiture at their "You're a moron" looks, or b) avid, boppy craftspeople who will want to talk for hours about your project, even if all you're looking for is leather lacing for a pair of 1970s safari disco boots. Ahem.

Basic Shopping List:

  • 1 5-inch ring, preferably wood.
  • 4 yards leather lacing, eighth of an inch thick
  • 3 yards imitation sinew (yes, really, and they'll have it)
  • 12 pony beads in one color
  • 6 pony beads in another
  • 12 feathers
  • Gewgaws to taste (if you're going for that twinkie aesthetic, you'll want cheap, fake totem doohickeys and silver feather charms etc. All others will want to get outside of the box a little bit (see below).
  • Glue, Sobo is good.
  • Craft clip, or a SERIOUS paper clip
  • Waxed dental floss
  • (assumption: you have scissors).

Here's a quick and dirty overview of the process, so you can think about what you'll be doing while you're shopping: the ring will be wrapped in the leather lacing. Sinew will be looped in half-hitches that iterate on each other (i.e., one "ring" of half-hitches around the ring, leaving a finger's width space in the loop, another ring looped through that ring, and so on). Gewgaws are affixed to sinew with floss. Trailing fringe with beads and feathers goes on the bottom of the loop and on either side.

With that in mind, here are some proposed variations to the typical vanilla dreamcatcher, with modifications for the shopping list.

Goth Nightmarecatcher:

If you'd like to do a goth dreamcatcher, you will want to look for black patent leather lacing, which you may or may not find. Black electrical tape is another option for wrapping the ring, but you will then need black satin ribbon or other for the fringe. Sinew may be replaced with silver lacing or cording, but it WILL be harder (more slippery) to work with. Instead of using little silver charms of feathers and bits of turquoise etc. for the gewgaws, raid your jewelry box for broken bits. Skull charms, ankhs, pink plastic babies, other bits of grotesquerie, etc. Bead colors - metallic, dark blue, deep reds, other jewel colors. Ditto for the feathers.

Do Androids Dreamcatcher of Electric Sheep

Shopping mostly at the hardware store, of course. Consider using shiny aluminum or copper tape to wrap the hoop, and braided wire for the sinew. Raw electrical wire right off the spool is another option, and you can spot-strip it to show the bundles of electric sinew under their plastic casing. Ideally, the gewgaws will be a combination of bits of chipboard, old memory, smashed bits of ancient nonworking computer purchased from thriftstore - and some little plastic sheep, if you can find them. Hobbyist stores catering to model railroad aficianados may have them in multipacks (you know, for the pastoral bits and all). You'll have to go to the craft store for neon colored feathers.

Barbie Dream(catcher) House

Pink, pink, and pink. Pink ribbon or white leather lacing for the hoop. After stringing it with the sinew, spraypaint the whole with metallic pink. The overspray will hit the loop, but that's ok. Use Barbie or Barbie knock-off doll accessories (shoes, suitcase, etc.), heart charms, etc. for gewgaws. If you can find old Barbielike dolls at a thrift shop, or Barbie knock-offs at the dollar store, consider dismembering them and using the Barbie parts instead of, or in addition to, pink feathers on the hanging fringe. If this idea appeals to you, visit disgruntledwren to find out about her Barbie reclamation projects.

Before leaving the house to shop, visualize or sketch out your desired dreamcatcher, and make sure that everything you see in your head is either in your house or on your shopping list.


Do you have an idea for a dreamcatcher theme? Let me know, or add it to this node!

Ereneta says: 'Course in my hood, Oakland, there ain't no craft stores. I found metal hoops and a smashed cassette tape in the street, and wove myself an urban dreamcatcher... I can't remember what I did for geegaws. Found nuts, bolts, and washers, iirc.

And now, for the directions:

  1. Cut 8 ft. of the wrap lacing. Glue one end to the ring, and hold it in place with the craft clip until the glue dries. Wrap the lacing around the ring until you're back at the beginning, working to keep it smooth and true to the surface. Glue the end of the lacing to the ring, and clip that in place until it dries.


  2. Take the will-be webbing (imitation sinew or whatnot), and tie one end of it to the ring. You're going to make nine half-hitch knots around the ring, spaced about an inch and a half part. Make the last hitch a little closer to the first knot as this prevents a large gap from forming.


  3. Begin the next row of the web by tying hitches in the middle of the thread that you have already weaved on row 1. Continue weaving in the same way until you have a small hole left in the center. Tie a double knot in the cord, add a tiny drop of glue to the knot and cut off remaining thread when dry.


  4. To make the hanging sections, cut 8" pieces of lacing (or ribbon, or wire, etc.) Tie one of these length on each side of the hoop, about a third of the way up, using a double knot. String with alternating colors of beads, and secure with a knot.


  5. The remaining 8" pieces of lacing can be tied to the bottom of the hoop, and strung with beads of alternating color as above (finish with a double knot).


  6. Feathers! Push two feathers into the bottom bead on each piece of lacing, using glue to hold them if they're still loose.


  7. The gewgaws. Less is more! Tie them to the sinew (or sinew substitute) with the dental floss. Glue may be required to help keep them affixed in the right place on slick surfaces like wire.

If you're having problems visualizing how this works, visit http://winterhawk.tripod.com/dcinstr.html for images. To make a bigger dreamcatcher (12 inch hoop) just double up on all the components and shopping list quantities. Five inches is quite small, an afternoon project.

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