Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Quill Art of the First People


A short slideshow on the Quill Art of the first people of North America.

But first some interesting facts about quillwork :

Quillwork, the oldest form of embroidery of the First People uses porcupine quills to create motifs! Porcupine Quills!

These are dyed with the juice of berries and then folded or braided to give it the form required to decorate various forms of clothing and household articles.

The method used to acquire quills from porcupine was a clever one : a blanket was thrown over the porcupine who then raised its quills into the blanket! No pain – no danger!

Quills from the the tail of the porcupine are different from those on the rest of its body and were used for handles or fringes. The ones from the neck were used for embroidery with the ones from the belly being the thinnest were used for the finer sections of the embroidery.

A glimpse of some of the fascinating art created out of this unusual material!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All pictures are of articles showcased in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto and taken with my cellphone camera.


Sep 2012


2 comments on “Quill Art of the First People

  1. Miri Textiles
    September 11, 2012

    O wow! So cool. I love how they gathered the quills. Thank you for this! Were the quills fairly easy to dye? It seems to me as if it would be difficult to get color to adhere…

  2. wovensouls
    September 11, 2012

    I wish I’d watched the actual process then I’d have an answer about the use of mordants in the quill dyeing!

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