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  • new regalia

    So I will be making a new regalia, I have known this for a while. i was planing out all the beadwork, just finished my plans the other day. Then...change of plans, I am going to make one of the dentalium shell dresses. I think they are goregous. Some of us were talking about them and I asked if anyone had ever seen a modern one, someone wearing them at powwows. No one had. I am sure they are out there, probably need to travel more to see some but I thought it was a real shame that we haven't. We were talking about all the Nation & Region specific styles that you don't see (or not often), while others you do see frequently. I decided I needed to make one, and one of our Elders wants me to encourage the other Woman to make thier next regalia Nation / Region specific. I think it's a fantastic idea. I am all excited to get started...but it means I will be cloth not buckskin. So excited and also reluctant, I like dancing buckskin (read I love the fringe...lol) but it seems the dresses were always cloth. So I guess I will be moving on to something new. Don't expect a finished pic in the next few weeks, I need the cash first, and I will need to order everything on line, cause my small city doesn't have what I will need. Wish I could start tonight! Hope someone here has seen them, has one etc. anyway excited and wanted to share.
    Last edited by SuzzeQ4; 12-09-2008, 12:35 AM.

  • #2
    Yvonne Sadongei wears the dentalium dress style. Her dresses are so beautiful.

    Keri Myers has a buckskin dress with the shells on it too.
    The only time its too late to start dancing is when you're dead.

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    • #3
      I've seen quite a few dresses with dentalium shell yokes, mostly Sioux and some Cheyenne I think. And yep, like you say, usually over cloth dresses. They're beautiful. I've also seen some buckskins with dentalium and beadwork, I think they're from some of the Northwest tribes. Really gorgeous.
      If you're living in ojibwe country, that's probably why you don't see these dresses at your local dances. As far as I know, that kind of shell isn't really used in that region.
      Good luck on your dress!

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      • #4
        location...very good point!
        We do got alot of people from various parts who live in the cities (like me), especially the big cities, but I still see the same styles over and over, but I guess not enough of a population base to bring a variety of dress styles to the smaller and med. powwows. I'm still excited that we are going to bring that variety back out here. And it is such a shame I haven't seen so much living here, but there is alot I have seen to from people who consider travelling here to be comming "down south"
        Thaks gals!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by superndngyrl View Post
          Yvonne Sadongei wears the dentalium dress style. Her dresses are so beautiful.

          Keri Myers has a buckskin dress with the shells on it too.

          What is dentalium?
          "Gaa wiin daa-aangoshkigaazo ahaw enaabiyaan gaa-inaabid"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ojibwaysweetie View Post
            What is dentalium?
            they are white shells, about 3/4 of an inch to about 2 inch in length, they are long and narrow, similar in shape to hair bone pipe beads but more narrow and they don't buldge out in the middle. OK I am not great at verbal / written descriptions but maybe someone can do better, or they carry them at noc bay and crazy crow so then you could see a picture.

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            • #7


              Dentalium Shell cape from the northwestern area....

              These shells (2 Varieties are used)

              One is this:

              Dentalium gerieft - Redstar-tradingpost

              but it is not the oldtime one- the oldtime one is protected now, as far as I know.

              Dresses with that shells were high fashion during the 1880s at the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes.

              Hope that helps.

              Elke

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              • #8
                I have two dentillium shell capes. My first cape I used small shells about 1 inch. It took a few months to complete. Then I saw a cape with longer shells that inspired me to make another cape. The problem I have with this latest cape is the maintainance...the longer shells tend to pop off. I may be doing something wrong with how I am attaching them. I taught myself. I usually wear the cape over a cloth dress but sometimes I wear over my buckskin skirt instead of the beaded cape.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by calicoquilts View Post
                  I have two dentillium shell capes. My first cape I used small shells about 1 inch. It took a few months to complete. Then I saw a cape with longer shells that inspired me to make another cape. The problem I have with this latest cape is the maintainance...the longer shells tend to pop off. I may be doing something wrong with how I am attaching them. I taught myself. I usually wear the cape over a cloth dress but sometimes I wear over my buckskin skirt instead of the beaded cape.
                  can I asked how you attached the ones that are popping off? mabey someone here can share how thiers don't, or we can brainstorm, I've been sewing since I was 3, figuring out a problem that is sewing related is something I am usually good at

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                  • #10
                    I used nylon thread on both capes. The longer shells are sharper and therefore cutting the thread over time. One lady suggested sinew. That will be the next thing I try when I make repairs.

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                    • #11
                      I've made chokers, earring and hair ties with dentalium. If the shell ends aren't smoothed they are thread cutters.

                      Try 0.5mm waxed white cotton cord. Nylon thread is too delicate for the job. If your shells are too thin for heavier cord, try an heavy grade of Aramid thread, PPTA or Kevlar. Just be very careful not to cut the shells with it. I've used artificial sinew, but it can stain the shell -- especially if they get left in a car in the Texas heat.

                      If you look closely at the ends of the shells used on old dresses, in some cases you can see where the artist smoothed the edges on the shells. This helped make all the shells in a row the same length, removed the breakage prone thin edges, and protected the material used to sew them down. I use a jeweler's emery stick (#4/0 or finer).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by OLChemist View Post
                        I've made chokers, earring and hair ties with dentalium. If the shell ends aren't smoothed they are thread cutters.

                        Try 0.5mm waxed white cotton cord. Nylon thread is too delicate for the job. If your shells are too thin for heavier cord, try an heavy grade of Aramid thread, PPTA or Kevlar. Just be very careful not to cut the shells with it. I've used artificial sinew, but it can stain the shell -- especially if they get left in a car in the Texas heat.

                        If you look closely at the ends of the shells used on old dresses, in some cases you can see where the artist smoothed the edges on the shells. This helped make all the shells in a row the same length, removed the breakage prone thin edges, and protected the material used to sew them down. I use a jeweler's emery stick (#4/0 or finer).
                        Thanks, as soon as my shells arrive I will make sure all my edges get smoothed out

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                        • #13
                          Well all was going well with my new dress (thanks for the info guys) when I realized I woul need a lot more shells. Then it looked like I wasn't going to get anymore, a lot of places afre out and don't know when getting more. A lot more won't ship to canada. I was ready to cry, but a good friend here is willing to reiceve them and ship them to me. So all is well again and I am progressing. I will be spending 5 hours in a car on friday, think this will be a good opernunity to get more done without constant interuptions.

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                          • #14
                            My mom taught me to always smooth out both ends of these shells with a emery board or nail file before using them.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by WocusWoman View Post
                              My mom taught me to always smooth out both ends of these shells with a emery board or nail file before using them.
                              A dremel with a sanding drum goes real good for this and makes a soft finish, goes faster too! They are pretty cheap nowadays to get too! I always watch out for the attachment kits so that I have lots of extras!
                              Listen to my heart, not just my mouth! The most powerfull thing we can do is,,,share,,, if we don't it dies with us.

                              It is the year of the bear, I am sharpening my claws and will no longer tollerate harrassment.

                              Born in Winnipeg raised in the Pikwakanagan, Deutschland was never home! Army brat that had no choice in a parents duties to home and country. I Too Serve our flag and work for the uniform.
                              Stand behind our troops or stand IN FRONT of them.

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