One of my favorite types of traditional art to create is porcupine quillwork. You have to collect the quills by plucking them, then wash them all and dye each batch a different color. Once they’re coloured, you have to soak them for a long time to keep them from breaking when you flatten them out and bend them, and then you can use them for sewing. It takes a lot of patience.
Most of my designs are ones that I draw up myself, and then follow along and make them with the quills. I do a lot of different patterns, but sometimes I get people that ask for certain things. I’ve done animals like polar bears, fox, and ptarmigan, but those are mostly special requests. I do most of my quillwork on the loom now.
I just really enjoy sewing. After my kids all grew up, I didn’t really have much to do so I started doing more arts and crafts. I make slippers, beadwork, moose hair tufting, most of the traditional arts – but quillwork is the one I do most. It took a lot of time and patience to learn the techniques, especially for working with porcupine quills, but my mother and sister were good teachers. I’ve also passed on some of the skills to another sister, and my daughter. I think arts are a good thing to pass down, and I enjoy doing it.