Every year I take part in our local Arts Festival, Feile na Bealtaine. Everything from installations, workshops, exhibit, etc. This year, I was asked to help the school my son goes to, to design and make a series of costumes and props for their participation in the Feile Parade. Naturally, since I love parades, and its my son's school, I gladly took part. The theme this year was games, and the school chose 'Cowboys and Indians'.
I couldn't have been happier. I have always had a grá (love in Irish) for anything to do with Native Americans (or more correctly First People), since I was a teenager. My first ever craft book, was, as I call it, my 'how to be an Indian book'. a beautiful book, full of hand drawn illustrations of crafts from skinning a cow hide, making moccasins, to carving a totem pole.
If you are planning on doing any kind of Indian Craft work, especially with kids, I highly recommend this book. I learned to bead weave, and basket making from this book as a teenager. both of which served me well, when I went to art college to study Fibre Art.
I spent a few days working in the school, with the kids to engage them more directly in the design of the costumes and props. Last years parade was a bit of a wash out, the poor kids marching in pouring rain. They weren't feeling the love, and rightly so. It had been miserable. So, I was determined to have them involved in as much of the process as possible, from design to making. So, they too would get a grá for this years parade. The plan worked. They helped design and make a range of props and costumes. They could chose what they wanted to be Indian, Cowboy or Cactus. Surprisingly I ended up with 4 cacti!! The Indians each made his own feather headdress, necklace, I mean warrior beads (boys didn't like the term necklace), and then had a choice of props, from bow & arrow, mini-drum, rain stick or throwing stick. The Cowboys made gun hostlers, hats and ammo belts.
So, after a hectic 3 weeks, with the help of a few volunteer parents and friends, I made about 19 Indians, 18 Cowboys, 4 Cacti, a Canoe, and 4 horses heads. With the help of an amazing German backpacker, we made working bows, wooden guns and shotguns.
Thankfully, it didn't rain on the parade, and every boy outshone himself in his enthusiasm to shoot each other and the audience with pretend guns and arrows.
Oh, and I had to face paint them all on the day... Hectic but great fun!!