Saturday, 23 August 2014

Tepee for Sasha dolls

I made two tepees for Sasha dolls this week - one for Lorraine's Henry and one for our dolls.

The tepee pattern was based on a pattern in a book I've had since my early teens, it is called 'The Reader's Digest family book of Things to Make and Do'.  It is a firm favourite of mine and I spent many teenage hours being inspired by some of the projects in its pages.

My much loved copy of the Reader's Digest book 'Things to make and do'
For the tepee I scaled the pattern to suit a 16" doll.  I used a fine firm weave cotton canvas from the upholstery section (rather than the dress fabric section) of John Lewis as the fabric needed to have some weight and stiffness to work well.  I didn't need to have seams in the pattern (unlike the Reader's Digest original which was designed as a child's play tepee).  I was careful to make full use of the selvedges of the fabric for the front flaps so the only seam was for the hem, though I used the sewing machine and a zig zag stitch for sewing on the ties.

I used fabric paints and a brush to decorate the plain fabric.  7 bamboo canes cut to length for each tepee was one fewer than in the book pattern, such a small scale tepee didn't need 8 canes to hold it up.

The instructions for the Indian tepee in the Reader's Digest book
The meaning of symbols on tepees
according to the Reader's Digest book
I also referred to a more modern book about American Indians for inspiration.
My other source book for the tepee project
We did have some trouble getting the tepees to stand up on a gusty day in the garden as the canvas has a tendency to slide down the canes a little when it is breezy.  However I've modified the way the canes fix slightly to make it easier to set up the tepee (though it won't withstand a high wind!).  I did a better job of the painting on the tepee which Henry took home as I got the bison and the zig zag mountains lined up better on his tepee.

My tepee after minor modifications to the way the canes are fixed - standing up much better.
the tepee with the flaps open.  The circle means unity of the tribe.
Back view.  I painted the rainbow, the sun,
the world quarters and the quarters of the earth symbols in addition to the bison and circle.
side view showing the rainbow more clearly
the top of the tepee
To take these side and back photos I picked up the tepee, turned it and set it up again so that the sun and long shadows (late afternoon) would work for the camera - it didn't take long (certainly not the struggle we had the other day!)

Friday, 22 August 2014

Cowboys, country girls and Indians

A few months ago our friend Henry was trying out his Cowboy outfit and asking his mum for more horses so he could play Cowboys and Indians with his friends.  This gave Henry's mum Lorraine and I an idea for some summer fun.  While Henry was visiting the USA for the 2014 Sasha festival he went to the Grand Canyon and saw an Indian tepee and this gave me a further idea for our summer fun day.  A date was set and Henry, Molly, Stevie, Peggy Sue and Kayla brought Stratford the horse with them to visit Laura, Reuben, Miranda, Florence, Nicholas James, the babies, Emily the white horse & the Gotz pony yesterday.  In the days before their visit, I worked to grant Henry his tepee wish...

A certain little bear called Clemence (a cousin of Mossy from Sasha Village) decided to get involved.  These are some of his observations:

In the Indian village Miranda was visiting the babies in one of the tepees.  
Clemence wandered up to Miranda to ask "where is Laura".
"I don't know, you will have to go and look for her" said Miranda
Florence was pretending to be an Indian woman
looking after the babies Leo and Mabel in a tepee
Clemence spotted Peggy Sue and asked her "have you seen Laura".
Peggy Sue replied that she didn't know.
Leo and Mabel caught sight of Clemence and wanted a cuddle.
Clemence gave Mabel a great big cuddle
Peggy Sue realised that there were some babies in the tepee
but at least there weren't as many as at the Sasha Festival earlier this year!
Leo and Mabel came out to see Peggy Sue
Leo babbled to Peggy Sue...
...while Mabel held up her arms for a cuddle!
Peggy Sue sat down on the grass with the babies and Clemence the bear.
She felt slightly less overwhelmed by babies than at the festival!
For anyone who doesn't understand why Peggy Sue (a very old wooden Shoenhut doll) went to the 2014 Sasha festival you need to visit Lorraine's blog and what happened to her when she got there!

Kayla the American Indian girl was sitting enjoying the sunshine in front of her tepee.
She could see the beautiful horse called Stratford grazing nearby.
Molly came to visit Kayla and asked all about what it was like living in a tepee.
Kayla decided to show Molly some of her treasures,
such as her bow and arrow, papoose, little drum
and her new friend the Canadian Indian boy (from my doll cabinet).
She explained that the Bison painted
on her tepee meant courage and honour.
Other symbols on her tepee also have meanings.
In the meantime Henry the Cowboy mounted his horse
Clemence the bear climbed onto Stratford to ask Henry "have you seen Laura?".  
"No, I haven't seen her yet" said Henry,
who was really pleased to see Mossy's cousin and gave him a great big hug.
Laura was riding Emily, her beautiful white horse
Stevie came to admire Emily
Laura told Stevie how wonderful her horse was to ride
Clemence approached Stevie and asked "Have you seen Laura?"
"Yes, I have" said Stevie, "She is riding her horse".
Clemence was so pleased he gave Stevie a cuddle
"Laura!" cried Clemence "I've found you at last"
Henry and Stratford trotted round to Laura and Stevie came to greet Stratford
Stevie stroked Stratford on the nose as Henry and Laura chatted
Meanwhile Reuben was stroking the pony which Nicholas James was trying to ride
"You know Reuben, I wish I could ride Stratford,
I feel a bit silly riding this little pony" said Nicholas James
Lorraine and I had a lot of fun and laughs trying to get the two tepees to stand on a windy afternoon in my back garden.  They stood fine on the dining room table, but proved a bit fiddly in the garden so I'm experimenting with a solution to make them really easy to put up (and stay up!).  Henry has taken his tepee home with him.  More about the tepees in another post.
Florence and the Navajo mat from Lorraine
Florence sitting in our tepee with the lovely woven mat which Lorraine brought for my daughter all the way from the Navajo Indians near the Grand Canyon.  The Navajo traditional house is a hogan (made of wood and mud) rather than a tepee.  Lorraine also gave my daughter a beautiful silver bracelet from the Navajo.

We tried to dress all the girls as if they were from the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie), though Laura is wearing more modern cowgirl clothes (part of the 2012 Festival raffle doll ensemble won by Laura H).  I know that Nicholas James would love a cowboy outfit especially after seeing Henry's clothes, so I'll need to try making something.  Reuben quite fancies a Native American costume, though he knows that wearing a full feather headdress is something only the revered elders of a tribe are allowed to wear, so he is asking for a couple of feathers in a headband instead.