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By Donna Flood

Cutting Ribbon Work Patterns

    If you have ever cut out paper dolls granted you can cut patterns for the ribbon work that goes on Ponca ceremonial dress. Anything can be used as a pattern material. Old saved cereal boxes, poster board, butcher’s paper, light saved plastic of any kind or even heavy drawing paper. The squared off plastic used by the crafter’s who make Kleenex box covers or coasters will work. I like this material because it is already squared off in tiny squares which can be easily followed for creating a design and it will last forever because it won’t tear as you are tracing around it.

    The width of a shawl is two yards. Divided up into sections of 9 inches each will give you the length of a design. Nine times 8 inches is 72 inches which is what two yards are. If you cut the pattern in nine inch segments it is easier to simply repeat that design all across the shawl.

    The vest on this bridegroom in this picture is embroidered designs going to the Woodland patterns. His leg bands are of the Faw Faw design. The honor blanket this girl has wrapped around her has a broad strip of Osage ribbon work and this is one of their designs. Their  legends tell that they come from the stars. I find it interesting that this looks like a little space man with helmet and earphones.

    Once strict tradition caused a person to wear their own clan’s design. Today everyone is of such mixed blood the patterns can go anywhere from woodland flowers, animal clans, rain birds and so on and so forth.

    First cut the material for your design into to 9 inches by a 4 inch rectangle. If you are using plastic, an eyebrow pencil can be lightly drawn on that. If you can’t draw stick to the geometric designs which can easily be drawn into the plastic that has tiny squares on it. You can do design drawings by using tracing paper to trace over something you like out of a magazine. You might want to do a number of patterns on a light paper at first. Paper is easier to cut out and you can practice until you become more
sure of yourself.

    The piece that goes down the front is wider than the one on the bottom of a shawl. If you look closely at this picture you can see the strip going around the bottom of this broadcloth blanket. There will be several colors used for the design as you can not see that well in this black and white photo.

    Here is some ribbonwork in color:

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