Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Feature: Finger Weaving and the Metis sash

Manitoba, the province I grew up in, is rich in Metis history.  Understandable, since the Metis are why the province came into being.  Many Metis are exceptional artists in beadwork and embroidery, and one of the most distinctive and recognisable symbols of their culture is the Metis sash.  The patterns and colours woven into the sash have come to represent various meanings and different groups within the Metis community.

The original sashes were very long, wide and woven by hand.  Eventually loom woven versions, which were faster to make and cost less, became common.  We have several loom woven sashes ourselves, purchased at Winnipeg's Folklorama and made by local loom weavers.  I won't picture them here, since it's finger weaving, not loom weaving, I'll cover today.

There are still some who weave the sashes by hand, and smaller items can be woven using the same techniques - many friendship bracelet designs are good examples of finger weaving.  Few materials or special equipment is needed. 

For basic finger weaving instructions, here's a good video to start with.

More advanced techniques can be watched at the Metis Museum site as well as this video.

Here are a few other good instructional sites.

Native Tech: Instructions for Finger Weavng Belts

Finger Weaving a Sash

Metis Finger Weaving (pdf)

My own attempts at finger weaving bracelets for my kids have given me a huge appreciation for the skill and patience of those who make the full sized sashes!

1 comment:

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