Tipi and Tents

My parents were commissioned to make forty canvas tipis and one hide tipi in 1973.They and my three sisters and I hand-stitched the forty hides it took to make the 16ft.
hide tipi. The forty canvas tipis took three months to do, all by machine, except for the 1600 button holes which we also did by hand.

My mother made at least eight tipis per year. She made her last two tipis at the age of 79. Making tipis and tents with my mother was a great experience for me. There was always story-telling, eating wild game, laughs and tears and passing to us awareness of our history.

I now teach tipi- and tent-making. Yes, I do at least ten tipis a year. I love sleeping in the outdoors under canvas. During a typical course, which I can do here at Mary Hill or elsewhere, we construct a 16 foot canvas tipi, complete with removable door and storage bag. All sewing is to be done on industrial sewing machines with some minor edgings done with sergers.

Studio teaching demonstrates the processes necessary to create the tipi including pattern layout, cutout, sewing techniques, set-up and take-down of the tipi plus storage methods. Tipi history and tribal style is taught, as well as the protocol of the setup and takedown. Such studies are introduced using the unique perspectives of traditional knowledge and culture There are no prerequisites and therefore no presumption of knowledge of this subject matter, but participants are expected to have basic sewing skills.

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