by Kei Michisaki
About five years ago, I was staring down at a pile of eye-catching trinkets I’d collected from the beach: shells, rocks, chunks of dried coral, sticks and leaves. I wanted to turn them into a present for my little sister. So I took some hemp string, beads, feathers and freshly cut vines, added them to my ocean treasures, and made my first dreamcatcher.
Creating dreamcatchers has since become one of my favorite crafts. Teaching others how to maneuver string, beads and a stick into a beautiful dreamcatcher has become a hobby. Not only are the things eye-catching, they are also a symbol of protection in the spirit world.
Dreamcatchers are an American Indian tradition, from the Ojibway (Chippewa) tribe. Creators would spin sinew strands into a web around a small, round or tear-shaped frame. Their dreamcatchers were then hung in a sleeping area as a charm, to affect the sleeper’s dreams. The legend is that the bad dreams will get caught in the dreamcatcher’s web, dying in the sunlight when morning comes. Traditionally, Native American dreamcatchers are about the size of one’s hand, made of bent wood and sinew string with a feather hanging from the web or hoop.
Today you’ll often see dreamcatchers made with sturdier string and decorated with colors, beads and feathers. In the 60’s and 70’s the Ojibway dreamcatchers started to gain popularity in the across the country. Other Native American tribes, like the Cherokee, Chumash and Navajo now create dreamcatchers as well. Today you see them hanging in lots of places other than sleeping areas, like living room windows and rearview mirrors.
The popularity of dreamcatcher charms has grown dramatically over the years. They can now be bought as rings, tattoos or paintings. Businesses have started manufacturing dreamcatchers to be sold and bought in gift shops. In pop culture the meaning behind a dreamcatcher has vanished. It is seen as a cool object rather than a protection charm, but either way, nothing beats making your own.
How to make your own dreamcatcher