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Old 09-23-2000, 03:07 AM   #1
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Question real gourd -vs- metal can

I wanted to see how you all feel about the use of a shaker made of a real gourd at gourd dances? I have been noticing that many of the NAC men are trying to get the real gourd out of the gourd dance arena and keep it strictly for the meetings. I do still see many folks still using real gourds, but thought I might see what everyone else has heard and seen on this one.
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Old 09-23-2000, 10:22 AM   #2
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I have been told by many, including NAC members that the real gourd should only be used in meetings and that the tin shakers are for gourd dancing. These comments have come to me from various parts of the country and from members of different "fireplaces" and gourd-dance groups.
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Old 09-23-2000, 06:32 PM   #3
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First, I want to thank folks for the replies on this thread, it is nice to see that people are still willing to help each other out and discuss the things they have been taught.

I myself have made many shaker for folks and for my own use. I only make them out of bell gourds when I am expressly ask to do so. The vast majority that I make are made from metal cans of various types. I have used the aluminum S & P shakers, condensed milk cans to had made silver cans.

I bring this thread up because I have just noticed that in different areas I you find that the bell gourds are more prevalent in their use for gourd dance, and these areas seem to be the ones that do not have a strong NAC presence. I am interest to see whether folks have heard on this subject. I myself will continue to follow the wishes of the 'saim pee' men that I know and respect who ask that the gourd be left of the church. But it is nice to hear from you all as to what you see and have been told in your areas.

By the way Raptor, I have never heard 'P' is for peyote before. Thanks for the input.
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Old 09-24-2000, 01:01 AM   #4
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In my experience a can is definitely the preferred shaker for Gourd dance. I am also familiar with many other things that have been used over the years from the ubiquitous aluminum shakers and L'eggs to tank floats, christmas ornaments and hand made silver and gold 'resonating chambers'to steal a rather pompous phrase from Dr. Howard's treatise). In point of fact I was even told to use only aluminum salt shakers be cause the "P"epper shakers were reserved for "P"eyote people.

When I started Gourd dancing thirty or so years ago I was told that Indian people frowned on using natural gourds for the dance, but especially small bell gourds such as those used in church. Since then I have come across an occasional gourd being used for the dance, but unlike the small gourds used in meetings they are huge... bigger than a baseball.

My advice would be to avoid the controversy and not use gourds

[This message has been edited by raptor (edited September 23, 2000).]
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Old 09-24-2000, 01:20 AM   #5
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This is the second time I 've tried this...so bear with me, please.
When I first started gourd dancing some thirty years I was told that Indian people frowned on using natural gourds for the dance. Since then I have become familiar with many of the other things used as 'resonating chambers'(to borrow a rather pompous sounding term from Dr. Howard's treatise), from aluminum SALT shakers and L'eggs eggs to christmas tree ornaments, tank floats and custom made silver and gold cans. Interesingly enough I was also warned about using pepper shakers as they were reserved for 'P'eyote people. I have come across an occasional gourd being used for the dance but they were not the like those used in church, they were huge. Some were almost as big as soft balls, and so loud that the dancer had to dampen the sound with his thumb. I've also noticed some eastern men, Seneca,Cherokee etc, dancing with horn and shell rattles.

[This message has been edited by raptor (edited September 23, 2000).]
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Old 09-24-2000, 08:50 PM   #6
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I figured since people were discussing the shakers I could ask also for some input.What are some good ways to mount a metal shaker to the handle?Also what is a good way to secure the top piece?(feathers or horse-hair)I have seen one fly off during a GD session. Anyway,back to the subject,I have been told by several people who have danced GD for a while that the bell-gourd is reserved for NAC members.(unless you are in the SE,you can see several new-agers w/them.
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Old 09-25-2000, 12:10 AM   #7
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There are many ways to attach a can to the handle. some folks permanently attach them, though I don't suggest this since cans and gourds and become damaged or ruined. I can tell you two ways to make it so the can is removable.

First way you make the handle so it has a shaft that tapers to a gradual point (the shaft is the part that will pass through the can) that is at least 1 1/2" longer than the can is long. Then drill holes in the top and bottom of the can to match the diameter of the shaft at those points. Then make a stopper out of rawhide or plastic tubing the will fit snugly on the shaft down against the can. then decorate the stopper and the handle.

The second way is a bit tuffer, but is preferred by some. In this method, do not tapper the shaft, and it should be cut to the exact length of the can. Then drill a hole slightly smaller than the diameter of a long drywall screw into the end of the shaft. The trick is keeping this hole straight. Next is to make the stopper. Do this by drilling a 'straight' hole through a piece of dowel and inserting the screw or by building up the top portion of the screw with tape or hot melt glue. Once this is done drill a hole in the bottom of the can that matches the size of the shaft and then a small hole slightly larger than the size of the screw in the top. Then once again decorate the stopper and handle.

If you are using an aluminum S&P shaker for the can remember to face the top down, because the lid is weaker than the bottom and will break easier.

There you go, good luck!
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Old 09-26-2000, 07:02 PM   #8
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Thanks for the directions,pwbum49....M
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Old 10-17-2000, 03:48 PM   #9
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I recently bought one of the cans from CCTP. I kind of like how small it is. I think it is going to look good with the new handle I just bought. The handle is very dark and is made out of a wood called wedge. It comes from Africa. The rings of the tree make a really neat pattern. It's almost a shame for me to cover the majority of it up with the can and beadwork.
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Old 10-17-2000, 08:07 PM   #10
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I haven't used any of CCTP's new cans yet but I have been using similar size cans for a long time. I go to the flea markets and rummage sales looking for things like that all the time. I find it is just a matter of getting the right proportioned handle so the can doesn't look to big or small on it.

So what is everyone's favorite thing to fill them with. I have used Bb's, turquoise chips (though they have to be replaced eventually), small pebbles and even cherry pits backed hard. I very what I use depending on the can. Those aluminum can like CCTP's new one can dent easy if they are too thin.
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Old 10-18-2000, 10:14 AM   #11
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A friend of mine who has been Gourd Dancing for a long time says his favorite thing for the inside of the can is dried cherry pits. He bakes them in the oven to make sure they are dry.

I tried seed beads in my first shaker and I didn't like it. I had to take it apart and put in some bigger beads.
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Old 10-20-2000, 02:54 PM   #12
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A friend of mine has one of those cans and it says "Shake Well" on it!
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Old 10-20-2000, 05:17 PM   #13
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I make shakers with feathers quite often. I not only use hackles but more often use parrot feathers on leather or ribbon. The leather will allow the to stand up more than the ribbon. All depends on what the person I am making it for wants. On my can I have 'African Grey' tail feathers mounted with leather. The ones that are a bright red. Really looks nice.

I remember those cans you are talking about SDinAZ. I still use the condensed milk cans, but you are right, they have a different sound these days.
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Old 10-21-2000, 12:15 AM   #14
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Hey PB49,--I have amazon parrot feathers to mount on the end of a shaker and was going to use leather on them,but was wondering how to attach them to the stopper.This my first attempt at making one so any input would be mighty helpful.........thx medic
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Old 10-21-2000, 01:52 AM   #15
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It depends on the size of the feathers. I usually don't use feathers with webbing longer than 3", but it is all a matter of personal choice.

Before I could help you on it we are back to how you are going to attach the can (screw top stopper or slide stopper). Either way though I take and wrap deerskin with a layer of wood glue on one side around the quill with a thin tab extending below the quill. Then I use a 'bulldog clip' to pinch the leather together around the quill. Once it dries then I just clip off the excess. It is just like rigging a feather for a loose fan.

All you have to do then is place then around the stopper and affix them with glue thread and another layer of leather on the outside to give you a good background to bead on.

Like I told you before look for me in Newport at the Dec. seminar.
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Old 10-21-2000, 10:22 AM   #16
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What is the reason for putting feathers or horse hair at the top of shakers?
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Old 10-21-2000, 04:53 PM   #17
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I'm not sure on that one. I have never heard of any symbolism for them. I think it is just a means of decorating the stopper since it is an integral part of a shaker. You see normally the horsehair or feathers hides a small bit of the wooden handle that sticks up right there above the stopper and can. I could be wrong on this since like I said I have never heard of anything symbolic about that. There could be some symbolism that comes from the NAC but I doubt it since gourd dancing predates the church. (It is not likely) If anyone else knows of some meaning behind this please correct and enlighten me.
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Old 10-30-2000, 05:37 PM   #18
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I feel that if you are trying to determine what is correct with gourd dancing the people to ask are the Kiowas. They instruct their own people that gourds are reserved and respected symbols of members of the NAC and therefore should be avoided by non members. I have also had Pawnee people tell me that pepper cans have a "P" on them for Pawnee. It really boils down to who you are taught by. In the last few years I have been making rattles from Old Calumet Baking powder cans as they are made of tin and have an old time sound. I have also made rattles for church people, used salt and pepper cans, evaporated milk cans, and I think I have a german silver can somewhere. The key to building a good rattle is to keep it as light as possible. I keep the top on the rattles by attaching a shotgun cleaning rod ferrel to the top of the handle and that way the top knot screws into place to hold the rattle together.
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