Published On: Fri, Apr 1st, 2016

Museum offering workshops on feather capes, twined bags and skirts


The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is offering workshops on making feather capes, twined bags, and twined skirts.  These workshops will take place in the Education and Research Wing of the Museum. Materials for nets will be provided.  Workshops are sponsored by the Museum and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Former Miss Cherokee Kara Martin models a traditional Cherokee feather cape made on a netted base.  (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

Former Miss Cherokee Kara Martin models a traditional Cherokee feather cape made on a netted base. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

On Wednesday April 13, a workshop on making feather capes will be offered from 9am – 4 pm with a lunch break.  The workshop will focus on how to make nets for the bases of feather capes.  The last hour of the workshop will show how to attach the feathers.  If you are thinking about making a feather cape for a Miss Cherokee pageant contestant, this would be a good time to start. You will need to bring hemp yarn—six strand– and feathers to the workshop.  You can order hemp yarn from  (You will need the hemp yarn, not the hemp twine.)  Goose satinette feathers, three inches long in a variety of colors are available from  Please bring scissors.  Other supplies will be provided including a shuttle and spacer. The net technique is at least 9,500 years old here in the southern Appalachians.

On Thursday April 14, a workshop will teach how to make a bag by twining hemp yarn.   These bags were used by Cherokee people at least 4,000 years ago.  The bag will be about 4” by 6” and will be modeled on those found in caves in the original Cherokee territory. Please bring hemp yarn –three strand and six strand– and scissors.  If you want to make a design with stripes in your bag, bring yarn dyed with walnut or other traditional dye.  Frames will be provided.

On Friday and Saturday April 15 and 16, a workshop will teach how to make a skirt using twining.  The skirt will be based on an ancient skirt found in a cave in east Tennessee on Clifty Creek, which was recreated for Kara Martin to wear in the Miss Indian World pageant in 2014.  You will need hemp yarn, scissors or a knife, and a frame to make the skirt in.  The hemp yarn needs to be three strand and six strand.  The frame will need to stand upright on the floor, and its inside measurements need to be at least as big as the skirt you are creating.  The frame can be made of wood or PVC pipe or any sturdy material.  For more details on how to make the frame, contact Barbara Duncan.  During the workshop, you will begin the skirt with the drawstring at the top, and will begin twining the lower part of the skirt as well.  The skirt will require at least 100 hours of additional work, depending on the size. These knee-length wrap around skirts were traditionally worn by Cherokee women for thousands of years.

All workshops will be taught by Deborah Harding, Carnegie Natural History Museum.  Harding worked with the Museum to make the feather cape for the Emissaries of Peace exhibit in 2006, based on research by Barbara Duncan.  Workshop size is limited to 15 people in each workshop. Note that hemp yarn is different from the hemp twine, because the twine has a waxy coating and the yarn does not.  You will need the yarn.  The different sizes are for the horizontal and vertical threads of your bag and skirt.

To register, visit the Museum Store or call 497-3481 ext. 208.  Cost is $25 for all three workshops for EBCI tribal members.

Info: or 497-3481 ext. 306

– Museum of the Cherokee Indian