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How to Make a Hand Crafted Dream Catcher

Author:

L. Cargill, Medical Laboratory Scientist, ASCP. Retired Blood Banker and Laboratorian. Loves to write about a wide range of subjects. Enjoy!

Dreamcatchers by L.A. Cargill

Dream catcher with arrowhead

Dream catcher with arrowhead

Some dreamcatchers I have made before

I have made many dreamcatchers and have studied the legends that surround them. There are probably as many styles and legends for dream catchers as there are native American tribes.

I was told at a young age that my great grandmother was full blooded Choctaw. She had even lived on the Oklahoma reservation. I have seen photos of my grandmother, and she looks very much like the Choctaw women of today so I have no doubt that her mother was a first American.

My own mother had a native American name, and she gave me one as well. She also taught me many customs and beliefs of the Choctaw tribe. Although I strongly resemble my father's Irish side of the family (and I have a Catholic sister), I have never believed in the doctrines of the Christian faith. The Choctaw beliefs stuck with me, and I practice them today. This could also explain why I study the Aztecs and Mayans which are also first Americans.

The main legend of the dreamcatcher comes from a story of an Indian princess that wanted her baby to sleep well and have good dreams. She saw the spider web and figured that it could catch bad dreams. She added a feather to allow the good dreams to filter down to the sleeping baby. Over the years, the web became more complex and the addition of more feathers, beads and decorations grew.

Different tribes have different shapes for their dream catchers. Circles are popular, but other shapes are used. Webbing is made with all sorts of materials, the most common being artificial sinew these days. There are different ideas on how to add the leather fringes which hold feathers, beads, and charms. Some have no added fringe. Others have very elaborate fringe. Dreamcatchers come in all sorts of colors and can be custom made to suit your décor.

Step by step video making a dreamcatcher

Enlarged photos of how to make a dreamcatcher

For this demo, I have used enlarged materials to show the webbing and the general construction of a dream catcher. If you want to try this yourself, please remember that practice makes perfect and you probably won't get the technique down right away. Once you learn it, you will be pleased with the results!

I always make my dream catchers during the waxing of the moon. I'm not all that superstitious, but It does seem to make a marked difference in the "power" of the dreamcatcher. I have made some during the waning moon and they just don't seem to turn out right. Then during the night of the full moon, it is also helpful to "charge" the completed dreamcatcher by hanging it out to be infused with moonlight. If the weather is bad, I hang them in a window to catch the moonlight.

The easiest hoops to use are the metal ones available at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Wrap them with the leather lacing and then start your web. I am now learning to make my own hoops from vines and I like them better. I tend to make everything really BIG! Gotta learn to tone it down.

Tie on the sinew or cord or candle wicking to the outer hoop. Then begin looping the cord around the outer hoop. Typically, you will make 8 outer loops to represent the eight legs of the spider. I don't always count the loops, I just space them out evenly. If you end up with ten or twelve loops, no big deal. When you get back to the first loop, start looping onto the first cord loops, bisecting each loop in half. Don't pull too tight, the web will gain structure as you go.

Add beads, charms, or whatever onto the inner loops. These things will appear to have been "caught" in the web, just as dreams are! Wooden pony beads look very authentic and earthy. Feel free to choose whatever you like.

At some point, you will get to the last looping around. There is no set size for the "hole". It varies with the size of the dreamcatcher and the materials you have used to make it with. You will know when it gets too difficult to keep looping. Tie it off with a bead or a couple of knots and some glue if you like to keep it from unravelling. Then add a charm, feather, or whatever to hang in the hole and guide the good dreams downward.

Tie on fringe wherever you feel it needs to go. Add beads and feathers to the fringe. Trap some loose feathers in the web for decoration. Tie on a hanging loop at the top and you are done!

Now, hang the dream catcher over your bed and get a good night's sleep!

© 2010 Lela

Comments - Ask questions here and I will answer them! Don't forget to rate this hub!

dreamcatcherltd on September 14, 2018:

People mostly use them for decoration today but dream catchers have a long history among First Nations people. They were given to children to hang over their beds to ward off bad dreams.

Where did dream catchers come from?

Explorers reported that the Ojibwa people were using dream catchers to protect children while they slept — they were sometimes called “Sacred Hoops.” Dream catchers have also been used by Cree and other First Nations people.

https://dreamcatcher.ltd

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on September 07, 2017:

Your dream catcher looks beautiful. I wouldn't use it to catch dreams tho; I like my dreams. I'd use it just for its beauty as a decorative object.

BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on January 28, 2017:

That dream catcher is so beautiful. I just love them!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on October 11, 2016:

Thank you. My grandmother is on the Dawes role. She was Choctaw and remembers the tales from the trail. She passed on many traditional recipes that I still make today. Happy America day!

Shyron E Shenko on October 11, 2016:

This is really beautiful. I have to save this so that I can make one for me.

My great, great grandmother was in trail of tears, I found her name and number on the Dawes Roles, but could not find her parents number.

And my great great grandparents on my father's side were full blood.

I loved this very much.

Blessings my friend.

Emese Fromm from The Desert on October 15, 2015:

I'm sorry to hear about your arthritis. Its great that you were able to share your knowledge though. Crafts are so much fun, but the next best thing is teaching others to do it.

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on October 15, 2015:

Thanks Emese. I have not been making very many dream catchers these days. My arthritis is getting the best of me. My hands hurt too much to do crafts these days.

Emese Fromm from The Desert on October 15, 2015:

Great hub! Thank you for sharing this. I had wanted to make one myself for quite some time, even though I have one I have gotten way back when I first moved out here in the Southwest. You make it look easy. I remember hearing about its connection to the moon phases. Again, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 09, 2015:

Try using leather glue. It dries flat. I usually put a smudge of leather glue, then press the spot together with a clothespin. I leave it overnight, but I think it cures in a couple of hours actually.

Lucie on March 09, 2015:

Hi I have been doing dream catchers for about 6 months, I usually use faux suede to cover my loop and glue it, but there is always a bulge from the glue gun. Is there a way to eliminate that bulge? Thank you

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 07, 2015:

wow, making own dream catcher would be very unique

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on August 05, 2012:

Thank you very much! I like these because it is like putting puzzles together. I need to swap out some of the photos on this hub and update it. Thank you again and good luck with your project. Don't get discouraged if it isn't perfect, just do it again!

d.william from Somewhere in the south on August 05, 2012:

Wow. what a great hub. I can't wait to gather my materials to try my hand at make one of my own. I have downloaded the video to my RealPlayer to refer to as a guide. Thanks for the info.

PS. the dream catchers pictured on etsy.com are just beautiful.

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on October 12, 2011:

It's difficult to photograph these. I can tell you that the more you make, the better you will get. I finished one last night that was my best ever. It's listed at my shop on Etsy if you want to take a look.

Newbie on October 12, 2011:

I have always loved dream catchers even though I am not native American. I follow a pre-christian belief system. I made my first dreamcatcher last week when That's Life had one to make. I couldn't see the pattern of the web properly because they had the pictures on a white background and I forgot to leave a hanging loop, so I had to use string to make one. The finished product was not very good, but I hung it up in my son's room and he loves it. I told him what a dreamcatcher does and he sleeps better believing that it will give him good dreams. I know that my next one will be better after looking at how to make them online.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on April 19, 2011:

I will but hopefully I'll be smarter next time. It was nuts, I just decided to go ahead and paste the glue with the top of my finger - I wanted to spread it around this bead. I forgot that there is a reason they call it hot glue;)

I actually have blisters on the pads of my fingers today! It doesn't really hurt though.

I love making the dream catchers! It is really relaxing to do in front of the t.v. I am so glad I tried it Austinstar!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on April 19, 2011:

Funny how that works. You'll be able to go commercial in no time. Set up an Etsy store. I sold a few there, but my hands prevent me from making them in bulk. At least make them pay for the materials!

Next time you have hot glue on your hands or whatever, try ice first. It makes it brittle and non-sticky.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on April 19, 2011:

I can't wait to see it - no - to own it! I bet it has been fun for everyone to see the progression too. You tell them it's mine! Haha! I feel like a little kid who knows a present is on the horizon. I'm kind of childish that way:)! I still use the word Goody - frequently! Lol!

I wasn't saying goody while I peeled the glue off my fingertips last night. I had to make hundreds of copies this morning and I was so glad to be right handed! You should have seen the kids this morning marveling over the dream catcher. Neighbors drop their kids here before school. Everyone wants one:)! Thank you for that - I was pretty darn popular today!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on April 19, 2011:

That's funny. Hot glue guns are so much fun! I hope Maddy has some cool dreams now.

I'm really going to try to finish your painting today. My neighbors and the contractor guys have been watching the progress. They think it's great. You are going to love it.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on April 18, 2011:

I finished my new dream catcher. Maddy wanted me to have it done by tomorrow morning because she wants to take it to camp in case she has bad dreams. How could I not do it? I thought I was really cool and used my hot glue gun for the first time ever.

I burned all my fingertips on the left hand. And glued a pen to the fringe. And glued a bead to my counter top:) LOL!

It came out beautiful some how:)! Omg!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on March 27, 2011:

I've got both - Michael's is closer though. Maddy looked at yours while I braided her hair. She is really looking forward to trying this:). Thanks - I bet we will all have fun even if it looks hilarious:) lol - should make for very interesting photos!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 27, 2011:

I like Hobby Lobby, but Michael's is good too.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on March 27, 2011:

I'm going to try this at home - it will be a perfect thing to do with the girls! Where would you think I could get the best beads? Or feathers? We have unlimited shopping here or order online? Sounds like I'll need to practice first.

I'll email a photo of all three;) thanks for the fun idea!!

BigSkyLove on February 18, 2011:

Hello,

We make authentic native american dream catchers, beaded lighters and jewelery.

Please visit us!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/bigskylove

magnoliazz from Wisconsin on January 02, 2011:

Another great hub, voted it up!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on December 16, 2010:

Thanks, I hardly have time to make them anymore. I really need to make some to sell on etsy. People are bugging me for some.

princess g on December 16, 2010:

awesome hub, I love your dream catchers!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on June 22, 2010:

What about the Irish? Are they white because of potatoes? LOL!

Every culture is unique in so many ways, but where it counts, we are the same. We all live on this one planet.

Thank you for the good words.

Angel Ward from Galveston, TX on June 22, 2010:

You made it so simple, I enjoy this hub! I am part Creek and I have studied their belief system a little, they believed in one God just like my faith, I am a christian, thankfully they don't contradict too much, tho the famous phillip deer did't like the christian faith much, he has a good argument towards "religion" lol....

I especially love the mythology of the Muscogee, creeks...that they are red from being created with the red clay of the mississippi, and the white men..were created by the foam of the sea!! ( I am part viking too so I like that foam part!)

Gail on June 17, 2010:

I Made a NICE Turquios n Black Dreamcatcher it is For SALE it is a HEALING Colour.I am a NATIVE CANADIAN :)

Peter from Australia on April 09, 2010:

Austinstar, these dreamcatchers look fascinating I would love to make one but I don't know if the Australian natives have an equivalent item. I must look into this?

Michael Shane from Gadsden, Alabama on March 26, 2010:

Awesome hub! I have a few around! Love em'

Gustave Kilthau from USA on March 25, 2010:

Austinstar - You said it well. Yes, I guess I will have to post an article about my stay with the "Ho Ho Kom" Indians on the Gila River Reservation at Sacaton, AZ. An interesting time for me, and I guess for them, too. I wrote at least one deal about Indians - not a very good deal, but fun to do and stick into "Mother Gus," a really "Dumb Poem" book. You can pick up on that one here on Hubpages at http://tinyurl.com/y9dm923

Gus :-)))

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 25, 2010:

Awww, Gus, you crack me up. Yea, it's just like a Kilt, those injuns only had what nature gave um under those breach cloths! Musta been hard to ride a painted pony!

Kachina dolls are a lot like Voodoo dolls, so be careful with that wolf head!

Gustave Kilthau from USA on March 24, 2010:

Howdy AustinStar - We don't have a dreamcatcher around here, but we have a nifty kachina doll I got for my boss (!) when I was piddling around earning bread on the reservation of the Gila Indians in Arizona. It was "Wolf Man." Nifty dude, that one. His wolf head comes off to reveal the Indian guy underneath. (Did not want to try anything lower down than that because you never know what may lurk in the mind of an Indian who sells to the white man...) I liked the thing because it gave me something different to bring home to the boss and now you have reminded me to spin a tale about that whole deal. Nice article you wrote here. I can barely tie shoelaces, so I will pass on the dreamcatcher making, but I appreciate you telling us how to go about it.

Gus :-)))

Holle Abee from Georgia on March 23, 2010:

Oops! Sorry I posted twice!

Holle Abee from Georgia on March 23, 2010:

Great hub! I've always thought these were cool.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on March 22, 2010:

Awesome - never knew how folks did those - have a couple myself!

Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 22, 2010:

You are quite welcome breakfastpop! Send me a photo!

breakfastpop on March 22, 2010:

Great hub. I may try this, thanks so much.