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How to Sew a Porky Roach with Nice Spread

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  • How to Sew a Porky Roach with Nice Spread

    What is the technique to get a good spread on a porky roach so that I don't have to use a roach spreader to flatten it?

    I've read in several old threads that a spreader shouldn't be used to spread the porky hair because it will break the hair eventually. The same posts said that if the roach is sewn correctly, then the porky hair will spread but the posts didn't say how to sew the roach.

    I made a porky roach for my son this summer using a Crazy Crow kit (I also bought longer porky hair from e-Bay). Following the directions, I sewed the strings of porky hair against the side of the yarn base and flush with the bottom of the base.

    The porky hairs stand straight up, or even slant in a little, and when the wind blows the sides of the roach nearly touch each other. He uses a small German silver spreader. I noticed that the other straight dancers had larger spreaders, but I don't want to damage the roach. I think it would look better if there was some spread.

    Is there some way to re-sew this so I get a better spread?

  • #2
    that's the 700 dollar ?
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass..It's about learning to dance in the rain. for me and the wolf


    • #3
      alot of it depend on the base and where you sew the hair to the base.some bases are flat on the sides some are more rounded depending on where you sew the hair on that curve will cause the hair to stand out, straight up or face in
      Last edited by rodond; 10-08-2011, 11:29 AM.


      • #4
        As I understand it, "Roach Spreaders" received that name because at one time, they were used to spread out the Hair Roach. Way back in time, when Hair Roaches were much smaller, they had a base of Deer Tail Hair. In other words, the cords with Deer Tail Hair which are now only sewed to the outside edge of the hair roach (along with the rows of Turkey Beard Hair or Porcupine Guard Hair), were sewn in a coil to make the base, with all the Deer Tail Hair sticking up in the middle of the Hair Roach. The Roach Spreader was not only used to hold the Roach feather, but also to flatten down the Deer Tail Hair in the center of the base, when the Roach was attached to the person's Scalp Lock Braid. Later on, the Hair Roach tradition evolved a bit, so that the mass of Deer Tail Hair in the center of the Roach base was cut evenly so that the Deer Tail hair was about 1/2 inch high, and leaving a few rows of Deer Tail Hair (along with the rows of Turkey Beard Hair or Porcupine Guard Hair), along the outside edge, uncut and standing up. This is what was referred to as a "cut base". Today, the bases are usually made with coils of cord without Deer Tail Hair tied to them, so that the earlier function of the Roach Spreader is no longer needed, except to hold the Roach Feather. I hope that helps with some background information.

        "Be good, be kind, help each other."
        "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

        --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)


        • #5
          Re-sewing the roach for a better look.

          I re-sewed the front part of the roach and cut a leather spreader so the roach spreads out just a little, but still has an upright, Southern style.

          As I started cutting away the threads from the base, the roach started to open up and spread out a little. I noticed that when I'd originally sewn on the outer strings of porky and deer hair, I'd sewn each row up a little higher on the base. So I didn't have to cut out all the original stitches, and I was careful to sew the outer rows at the very bottom of my yarn base.

          My yarn base has flat sides, but sewing the rows of hair at the bottom edge gave it some spread.

          Then I cut a leather spreader, beveling the bottom edge, to just almost touch the porky hair. This gave the base some stiffness to keep the hair from rolling inward.

          I also noticed at the last Pow Wow that other roaches seem to have a much wider base than my son's, which also gives the roach a very different look. If I make another roach, I think I'll get a wider base and one with a rounded side.

          Thanks for the advice. I think the roach looks much better now.


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