Quillwork | Algonquin

The Algonquins decorated their clothes with the quills of porcupines on white talied deer hide.

To prepare the quills air is pressed out of them so the resulting work will lay flat. They do not use flattening tools. Good quill work was with even rows ,uniform width and tiny invisible stitches . The thread used was animal sinew from the fibrous tendons along the spines of deer, moose, elk, or buffalo .

After they soaked the tendons they rolled the tip in between their fingers to make a point. They did not use needles instead they passed the hardened tip of the tendon through the hole made by an awl.

An awl is a tool of ulna bones or other long bones, antlers sharpened to points, fish bones, and even thorns. If they over soak the quills they would stretch and break.  So instead they would moisten them with saliva .

Authors: 10 yr. olds  S.S./O.P./M.B.

Further Reading

Mrs. Theriault’s photographs of Quebec White-tailed Deer (Cerf de Virginie)

First Peoples Index

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