If you have ever cut out paper dolls
granted you can cut patterns for the ribbon work that goes on Ponca
ceremonial dress. Anything can be used as a pattern material. Old saved
cereal boxes, poster board, butcher’s paper, light saved plastic of any
kind or even heavy drawing paper. The squared off plastic used by the
crafter’s who make Kleenex box covers or coasters will work. I like this
material because it is already squared off in tiny squares which can be
easily followed for creating a design and it will last forever because it
won’t tear as you are tracing around it.
The width of a shawl is two yards. Divided
up into sections of 9 inches each will give you the length of a design.
Nine times 8 inches is 72 inches which is what two yards are. If you cut
the pattern in nine inch segments it is easier to simply repeat that
design all across the shawl.
The vest on this bridegroom in this
picture is embroidered designs going to the Woodland patterns. His leg
bands are of the Faw Faw design. The honor blanket this girl has wrapped
around her has a broad strip of Osage ribbon work and this is one of their
designs. Their legends tell that they come from the stars. I find it
interesting that this looks like a little space man with helmet and
Once strict tradition caused a person to
wear their own clan’s design. Today everyone is of such mixed blood the
patterns can go anywhere from woodland flowers, animal clans, rain birds
and so on and so forth.
First cut the material for your design
into to 9 inches by a 4 inch rectangle. If you are using plastic, an
eyebrow pencil can be lightly drawn on that. If you can’t draw stick to
the geometric designs which can easily be drawn into the plastic that has
tiny squares on it. You can do design drawings by using tracing paper to
trace over something you like out of a magazine. You might want to do a
number of patterns on a light paper at first. Paper is easier to cut out
and you can practice until you become more
sure of yourself.
The piece that goes down the front is
wider than the one on the bottom of a shawl. If you look closely at this
picture you can see the strip going around the bottom of this broadcloth
blanket. There will be several colors used for the design as you can not
see that well in this black and white photo.
Here is some ribbonwork in color: