Buckskins are worn by historic re-enactors of many periods including the Neolithic era throughout the world, Renaissance Europe, and America from the Colonial era through the 1880’s. For historic re-enacting, it is important to be able to document that both the material and the specific style of clothing were worn during that period.
Because of their thin-ness, Bighorn Sheep skins were considered one of the choice materials to make dresses from on the northern Plains. They are extremely rare and hard to get nowadays (because the animals are rare and hard to get). Also particularly special is that all the quills used for this dress are dyed with natural native dyes (very few quillworkers use traditional dyes these days). I'm hoping Nancy will write a book on the subject... Nancy did everything herself, including the tanning. Here's her description: "Upper Missouri style two hide dress made of brain tanned bighorn sheep, with tails intact. The dress was sewn completely with sinew, decorated with old stock Bodmer blue pony beads, trade beads and red and blue trade wool cutouts. The quillwork on the shoulders is also sinew sewn, with the quills dyed with native dyes of bloodroot, yellowdock, and horsetail."
Robinita is a writer, illustrator and beader specializing in Western Americana. She reproduces and repairs historic items as well as making beaded guitar straps and the like. Pinking was commonly done by the Dene tribes of Canada (related to the Navajo and Apache). Buckskin tanned by Matt Richards
A lot of Iroquois and Great Lakes quillwork was done on very dark brain tan. We've (Matt & Michelle Richards) prepared hides for several quillers for this by either smoking it super dark, or dyeing with black walnut hulls. The skin used here was smoked. Pam does custom quillwork. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brain tanned elk skin leggings with a one inch wide strip of beadwork running down each side. Richie brain tans, teaches tanning and makes custom garments and accessories.
"I (Ric) am wearing a Blackfoot Half Breed style jacket, also matching beaded trousers that are not shown, and beaded moose hide moccasins. "Danneil is wearing a Kiowa-type dress, in the style of one on display in Cody, Wyoming. It has bead work, elk teeth, and dentalium shell dangles. Her leggings are of the Omaha tribal style, as are the moccasins. The leggings are decorated with beads, copper cones, and brass sequins."
"I did all the tanning, the construction, and bead work on all the items. We firmly believe in shoot 'em, skin 'em, eat 'em, tan 'em, and wear 'em! I first started trying to tan in 1973, when I was just starting in Buckskinning. My first project was an angus steer hide that I attempted in a damp basement in the middle of winter. Never did get that accomplished! Deerskins into Buckskins has solved that problem!" "Danneil's research in primary resources have debunked many long held beliefs of both ourselves, and many others involved in re-enacting as to what was available in the West during the fur trade. She had the good fortune to be at Mark Miller's when George Barth was visiting, at which time she was taught the method of quill wrapped horse hair work." You really should click on this photo and see the full-sized version!
“It seems that aniline dyes were used as soon as they were available through trade, replacing the indigo and cochenille dyes which were also available to the Lakota people through trade with other tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa etc) or with the white traders.”
Linda makes all of her Pow-wow garments herself. She brain tans, beads, works silver, as well as many other crafts.
The doll is 22 inches tall and uses the finest brain tanned hides to get the look of a real dress the way it lies on a person. The beadwork is 28/o to 16/0. The smallest made in the world. You really should click on the picture to get a more detailed view....its awesome.
"The horse gear is on a real horse. I won The National Pow-wow competition with this gear. I send these pictures to show you what I am capable of doing and why I am so opinionated. It took years to get a mouth like mine. "
"When you tan your own hides, you can finally have fun and afford to take whole hides to make things and not feel guilty...... This Crow style parfleche cylinder is made from buffalo rawhide and is 21" long. Correctly made, it has double buckskin fringe (brain tanned, lightly smoked with punky cotton wood) up to 45" long. The dark epidermis is left on the inside surface of the rawhide case. After painting and drying, the rawhide was sized inside and out with prickly pear juice. All lacing holes were burned thru the rawhide with a hot nail."
"..these were taken when I applied to be an extra in "Last of the Mohicans" in 1991 (I think), I was selected but my job wouldn't allow me off to do it. Center seam half-leggings and moccasins, quiver (only its strap is braintan with red wool trim) that I made... I borrowed the wild colored ruffled shirt from a friend for some color... not exactly camouflage for out in the field.."
The Metis were the mixed blood descendents of French trapper/voyageurs and Native Americans in the region north of the Great Lakes. They combined native and European clothing styles to create their own distinct and stunning garments. This jacket was modeled after French military coats.
Erin's beautiful native style dress is decorated with elk teeth and porcupine quill-work. Notice the buckskin doll in the foreground The dress is decorated in size 12 beads, with cowry shells. It is reminiscent of a Southern Plains dress from the early reservation period. Erin makes custom war-shirts, pipe bags, dolls, dresses, knife sheaths, moccasins, etc. You can contact her at email@example.com
Michael 'Dirty Shirt' Ryder in buckskin leggings, shirt and jacket of the fur-trade era. Mike tans hundreds of hides a year and is listed in our directory of tanners.