Museum offering workshops on finger weaving, twined bag and skirt

by Mar 3, 2017Happenings0 comments


The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is offering workshops on finger weaving with beads, twined bags, and twined skirts.  These workshops will take place in the Ken Blankenship Education and Research Wing of the Museum. Materials for finger weaving will be provided.  Workshops are sponsored by the Museum and the North Carolina Arts Council.

On Monday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 21, a workshop on finger weaving with beads in the 18th century style will be offered from 9am – 4pm with a lunch break.  The workshop will be taught by Deborah Harding, Collections Manager at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and Karen George, and EBCI tribal member employed at the Oconaluftee Indian Village.   Supplies and materials will be provided. Bring scissors.  The finger weaving technique is an American Indian tradition more than a thousand years old.  The 18th century style used glass beads and yarn made from wool, buffalo hair, or plant fibers.   Cost is $25 for EBCI members. Workshop is limited to 15 participants. Sign up in the Museum Store.

OLD METHOD: Kara Martin models a twined skirt based on a skirt found in the original territory in a cave in Morgan County, Tennessee. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

On Wednesday, March 22, a workshop will introduce the technique of twining and will teach how to make a bag from hemp yarn. If you have not done twining before, this workshop will be a good introduction to the twining technique.  You need to take this beginning workshop before taking the Skirt Workshop.  Materials:  Please bring hemp yarn –three strand and six strand– and scissors. You can order hemp yarn from  (You will need the hemp yarn, not the hemp twine.) 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.  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. Cost is $25 for the twining workshop.  Workshop is limited to 15 participants. Sign up in the Museum Store.

On Friday and Saturday March 24-25, 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.  You can order hemp yarn from  (You will need the hemp yarn, not the hemp twine.) 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 497-3481 ext. 30 or  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. Women continued wearing them in the 1700s, even after they began trading for linen and wool cloth.  The technique was used in the early 20th century by Molly Runningwolfe Sequoyah’s mother, who made shrouds by twining yarn made from the plant called dogbane or Indian hemp. Cost is $25 for EBCI members. Workshop is limited to 15 participants. Sign up in the Museum Store.

The twined bag and skirt workshops will be taught by Harding who 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 for these workshops, visit the Museum Store or call 497-3481 ext. 208.  Cost is $25 for all three workshops for EBCI members.

Info: or 497-3481 ext. 306

– Museum of the Cherokee Indian