I have a Cherokee great-great-great-great grandmother. I can’t prove she was Cherokee. That’s pretty hard to do. I was going to do the DNA test at Ancestry.com to check it out but now there are reports that Indian bloodline won’t show up for all sorts of technical reasons that I’m not sure I understand.
Nevertheless, I’ve always been intrigued by Native American dolls, intensified by discovering ancestral ties to the Cherokees.
Imagine my delight when a granddaughter requested the American Girl doll, Kaya from the Nes Perce tribe. She’s very authentically dressed with wonderful accessories to boot…a horse, a baby doll on a cradle board, a ceremonial outfit…and a tipi/teepee.
Kaya arrived just in time for her birthday party, which featured a teepee cake, made by the birthday girl and her mom!! How cool is that?!
It was only natural, of course, that Kaya would need something to live in. Right? Only this Meemaw was NOT ready to spend $125 for a deerskin house.
What to do? What to do?
Immediate research was promptly launched. The internet yielded several moms/grannies who also thought there had to be a better/cheaper way to shelter Kaya. A couple of mommy blogs even gave some directions.
I combined everything I saw and read and came up with a plan, using fake leather material, leather strapping, pheasant feathers (of which I have loads of), some fake turquoise and, with a lot of help from my mom…we came up with a pretty good facsimile of the catalog teepee.
We began with 2-1″ styroboards, hot glued together at the longest edges for a 3′ X 3′ board. I drew a circle using the very technical method of tying a pencil on one end of a string and holding the other end down in the center of the board. Then I took a box cutter and cut the board out.
We used 8-3′ wood dowels and pushed them down into the styro in equal increments, leaving a larger space between 2 dowels to be used as the entrance. Squirt hot glue down into and around each dowel. We used the leather strapping to weave around and tie the dowels together at the top, leaving about 3-4″ at the top of the dowels.
I had some acrylic paint on hand and mixed up some green and brown and haphazardly painted the top of the board. It took about 30 minutes to dry.
Then we cut a circle (which should have been a half-circle) of fake suede/leather material that I found at Hobby Lobby. You need an extra pair of hands at this point…Mother held the material over each dowel as I poked holes through the material on each side of the dowels and tied each dowel to the “tent”.
Once all of the material was secured, we trimmed the excess material so there was just enough to use to close the entrance.
Next, I used a cake decorating technique where you wrap the edge of the cake board with ribbon to hide the edges. Just run a glue stick around the edge and push the ribbon into it, cut, fold under one end and glue.
The teepee was the granddaughter’s Christmas gift, along with the suede doll and cradleboard…and a feather headpiece. She was thrilled and the other older granddaughter announced that she really, really liked Kaya.
Good thing I saved the left-overs!!
Final cost was about $40 with plenty of the materials to make another teepee, clothing, jewelry and whatever else we come up with. Next up…a ceremonial dress like this: