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Cradleboard Instructions (one style anyway)

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  • Cradleboard Instructions (one style anyway)

    At long last me and the scanner are all working at once:

    These instructions are for a fully beaded, modern adaptation based on Oglala cradles. It is based on the soft cradle. I'm told the frame is not traditional, but reflects additions made to make cradles more marketable to whites.

    These instructions are not definitive, nor are they perfect. The best way to learn to make a cradle is to get someone to teach you how -- in person. Only an elder can teach you everything you will need to know and do.

    In today's legalistic age, I feel I should add: the maker is responsible for determining the suitability and safety of these techniques.

    That said...

  • #2
    Round one...

    Things you will need:

    2-3 yds canvas or 2 large deer hides,
    rawhide laces,
    rawhide or sheets or sheets of 30mil polyethylene,
    2-3 yds calico,
    2-3 yds mountian mist or similar quilt fill,
    2 -3 yds fusible interfacing (if canvas is used).
    artificial sinew or heavy linen thread,
    bias tape,
    sobo glue.

    needed only for a cradle with frame-
    8ft of 4"x1/4" red oak or maple,
    3 ft of 2" x 1/4" red oak or maple,
    drill and 3/16" bit,
    coping or sabre saw,
    4oz stain (oil based is stinky but works better)
    4oz finish wax
    wood glue,


    • #3
      Sizing a cradle is full of judgment calls. I've only made a couple, and watched several more being made, and studied old ones in museum collections.

      Making the pieces:

      You can use either buckskin or canvas. With canvas, I recommend a double layer, sandwiched together with interfacing.


      This piece determines all your measurement. Its size should be based on the baby: somewhere in the range of 22"-28" in length and 12"-16" in width at the top and 8"-10" at the bottom. This will to a degree govern how long the cradle can be used. The last one I made was for a small baby and was 12" x 22".

      Make a paper pattern. Mark the outline of the finished piece and then make a second line 1/4" inside of this. If you are using canvas allow a 1/2" seam allowance. For hide 1/4" to 3/8 is a good seam allowance. I always over-engineer the seams. For canvas I will double stitch with heavy thread and then bind the raw edges with zigzag stitch. Then to prevent chafing, I baste bias tape over anything that might rub.
      Attached Files


      • #4

        The length of this is determined by the dimensions of the backing and the baby. It needs to go from the bottom over the top and to the bottom on the other side. The width also depends on the baby and how much wrapping you are going to use around the infant. 9"-12" is a good range. Allow the same seam allowances along one long edge and if using canvas along both ends.

        If the sides are canvas, sew a doubled strip of buckskin on the edge that is going to be in the middle and have the laces through it. Glue two layers of buckskin together and sewn it in with a double or triple row of stitching. This is the edge that will have a lot of strain and it will show out from under your beadwork. If using hide, reinforce the edge with a strip of buckskin glued along the same edge.
        Attached Files
        Last edited by OLChemist; 11-15-2004, 09:23 AM. Reason: forgot attachment


        • #5

          This is necessary to keep the heavy beaded top from falling down on the baby's face. I've seen rawhide and heavy leather used. I use heavy plastic sheets, since they are impervious to moisture, however it doesn't breathe.

          This piece runs roughly from the middle of the side, over the top and to the middle of the other side. It needs to be tapered to allow the sides to conform to the infant.

          Foot piece:

          This is not traditional, but gives me great peace of mind, LOL. It will restrict the size of baby to some degree. It is not essential.

          If made, it is the length of the bottom and about 3/8ths of the width of the side. Add seam allowances on both ends and one long edge.
          Attached Files


          • #6

            There are lots of ways to decorate. I like fully beaded, but then I like to bead, LOL. You can also just bead the hood over the head and cover the rest of the sides with cloth. You can just bead strips, like the old quilled cradles.

            When you decide what to do. Bead away. Leave a slight gap by the seams on the side where it will be attached to the backing. I leave a gap between the outer edge, which can be beaded or bound with cloth. This gap gives a place for attaching the ties.

            This detail shows a "decorative" cradle. A long zigzag tie, laced like a boot works better for the real thing.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              You may have to join hides together to make a long enough strip. I baste the pieces together on both sides. Then I back the seam by gluing a two or three inch strip of buckskin behind the seam, stopping just short of the reinforced edge. Then for added strength I sew through the strip and the joined hides on both sides of the join. (This by the way is a lousy technique for clothing but is good for strength.) The extra thickness will be hidden by the reinforcing. And if the seam shows when the beadwork is laid over the stiffener, a strip of quilt backing between the stiffener and the beadwork will hide that.

              More to come after work....


              • #8

                After beading center the head with the top center of the cradle. Make sure you have the outer surface of the backing facing the beadwork -- like the cradle is inside out. (If you're adding the tab, don't forget to include it.) Start sewing (whip stitch is my personal preference) toward the foot. The side should stick out a 1/2" or so -- give or take. Repeat on the other side. If desired, baste bias tape over the seam to pad it.

                Center the foot piece and sewn it along the bottom. It will stick out on either end. Don't sweat that right now.

                Turn the cradle right side out. Make sure the beadwork is facing out and the seams in *wink*. Tuck the edges of the foot piece inside against the edges and sew down. This is easier if you leave off a row or two of beadwork on a fully beaded cradle. But if you miss the spot you left bare you can still sewn between the rows and not have the stitches show.

                Frame assembly:

                If you're doing the frame, shape and sand the uprights. Lay them on top of the cross pieces, with the cross pieces within an inch or two of the top and bottom. Make sure they follow the lines of the cradle and don't stick out. Use a pencil to mark where the uprights cross the crosspieces and where the cross pieces touch the uprights. Check this a couple times.

                If you have the tools and inclination, you can mortis the joints and make a flat frame. Or you can glue the pieces in place, with good wood glue. When is it dry, I drill holes at the points of square on each joint and use damp rawhide laces to lace the pieces together. If it is just a decorative or one or two use cradle I don't do this, since I trust to glue for a few months.

                On the uprights, I drill holes 2" apart from the top crosspiece to the bottom crosspiece. The cradle will be laced to the frame through these holes.

                Sand the dickens out of the fame. Round any sharp corners. Stain and finish. Be sure to let the varnish cure and stop outgassing before attaching the cradle or the buckskin may be discolored.

                Attaching the cradle to the frame:

                This method is not traditional. It is strong and relatively easy.

                Lay the cradle on the frame and check the alignment. Use a couple of tacks at the corners to hold the cradle in place while you do the rest of the work. Make sure these can either pulled out from under the backing.

                Lay the stiffener backing inside and pin or tape it in place. Sew the side stiffener to back piece. This makes a nice secure support.

                Using an awl punch a hole through the stiffener and back of the cradle over either the top or bottom hole. Pull a doubled piece of artificial sinew more than twice as long through the hole until half the length is on each side. Put a glovers needle each end. Punch a hole over each hole in frame. Bring a needle through from each side. The stitching should be like a figure eight. It is easiest to do this first from the back.

                Do this on both sides. Pull out the tacks.

                Take a much need break:

                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Lacing holes:

                  Make the lacing holes. These will rip if cut with a knife or punched with a triangular awl. Use an Indian-style (round awl) not a stitching awl to open each end.

                  The lining:

                  Tack the side stiffener down in a few spots to keep it from moving. Cut a strip of quilt batting the same size as the lining fabric and one the same size as the backing. Cover the stiffener with the batting. Make sure no sharp edges stick out. A couple of quick tacking stitches will hold everything in place.

                  Put the lining together like the cradle. Make sure the lining fits inside. Fold over the excess on the sides (near where the foot piece is attached). Fold over the edge. And baste it to the leather or canvas. The detail below shows the lining folded around the foot piece.)

                  Well that's the best I can do over the internet. Hope this helps.
                  Last edited by OLChemist; 01-25-2005, 12:01 AM.


                  • #10
                    more attachments

                    Well, dang. I'd like to put the rest of the attachments up. But I can't get them upload, since the board insists they are already here. Sorry.
                    Last edited by OLChemist; 01-25-2005, 12:06 AM. Reason: Missing attachments


                    • #11
                      rename them.... that's all you have to do is rename the attachments...

                      btw.. YOU SO ROCK!
                      Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


                      • #12
                        Here (I hope) is a photo of what the foot piece looks like with the lining.
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          This is a photo of the back of the cradle showing the attachment method.

                          BTW. Thanks so much Blackbear and Ghostrider for your kind words and your help. :)
                          Attached Files


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OLChemist
                            This is a photo of the back of the cradle showing the attachment method.

                            BTW. Thanks so much Blackbear and Ghostrider for your kind words and your help. :)
                            Hey Resident Smart Guy, Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this. I know that this had to take some time and i just wanted to let you know that it is appreciated and will be utilized.


                            • #15
                              Darn good thread that needs to be brought back up!
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