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We are most happy to announce that our parfleche painting cookies are now on line! One of our favorite art and craft forms is American Indian Parfleche. This is truly a beautiful form of Indian Craft. Many of the old American Indian parfleche bags or parfleche cases and other painted American Indian rawhide pieces in museum and private collections were painted with cookies. We have made every effort to revive the cookies as they were found on the Plains and the Plateau before 1900. The pigments we use in these parfleche paints are either the same natural earth pigments used long ago or trade pigments traded at Westrn trading posts before 1900. (See the photograph of the old Cheyenne cookies on this page.) These parfleche paints are self sizing so if they are apllied to the rawhide in a correct manner there is no rub off or smearing of the painted parfleche.
Here at BeadMatch we are constantly looking for quality products that will help with the creative processes in our clients work. We have a limited supply of craft grade ermine a few times a year and when we have those they will be listed here. At our pre grand opening event in Lewiston, Idaho at the yearly Material Culture of the Plains, Prairie, and Plateau Indian Conference we sold out our ermine supply almost immediately. http://www.mcppp.org/ I have a close Santee Sioux friend who calls them "ermits" instead of ermine. It has a nice ring to it. Everyone I mention this to begins calling them ermits, maybe you will start calling them that too! We are also working on an exclusive pre waxed thread that is very strong and is a very good emulation of the thread common to American Indian beadwork before and shortly after 1900. Scroll down the page to see the ermine.
Parfleche painting cookies made the old way with natural, trade pigments, and natural hide glue. These cookies have high concentrations of pigments and have taken us years to develop and perfect. We prefer to use them on a freshly fleshed hide that is strung in a frame and is still wet/damp. The cookies are 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches in diameter and one cookie will paint a phenomenal amount of parfleche. One of the top 5 restoration/artists in the U.S. complimented us on parfleche that we had completed with the cookies and said the parfleche were the closest thing to an old painted piece they had seen.
Parfleche painting cookies are now available for purchase!
Here is a photo of the parfleche painting cookies illustrating the nice array of 20 different shades and colors. We have used the very best pigments that are perfect matches to what was available from 1840 through 1910 or so. Our cookies contain more premium pigments then are found in a 14 ml tube of the most expensive water colors paint tubes available today. One cookie will go a long way painting on wet/damp parfleche/rawhide. They are fun to use and are manipulated just as parfleche painting with cookis was done in the old days by hand. (We will send a how to print out with each cookie order)
It is of note that the cookie form for painting parfleche/rawhide has not been readily available either in this or most of the last century. So we are happy to be able to provide access to this wonderful nearly lost form of applying media.
Because these parfleche painting cookies are slightly concave and will hold enough water droplets, these cookies can also be used with either the bone brush of antiquity or regular artists paint brushes. Stiff brushes of various widths work great. We prefer using only the cookie for most of our work though. On some American Indian parfleches or parfleche bags, it is obvious that a free hand was used to paint them. On others, notably the transmontane style (Nez Perce, Wallawalla, Yakama, Shoshone, Crow and other Plains and Plateau tribes) at times used a straight edge when applying outlines on their parfleche pieces. Very early Crow Indian parfleches depict zoomorphic (animal) and anthropomorphic (human) designs. Usually these old Crow Indian parfelche cases are outlined in black or dark brown, with a back ground of an old red, with the animal or man design painted in the same deep brown/black that the outline had been painted with. On the Plateau and a few other places (Crow, Sioux parfleche) there also exists the rare and beautiful floral parfleche, which were undoubtedly done with a free hand and cookie! These cookies can be scored and broken into various size "brushes" for painting different width outlines or lines, and also for wider strokes in fill in areas. The cookie can be scored and broken into a half moon shape for fill in work and a long triangular shape for out lines. The third piece from this "scoring and breaking" effort will be a smaller half moon shape for filing to appropriate widths for fill in or other wider outline or line work. The possibilities are endless. There will be a diagram or photo of this to follow. (scroll down)
B-2The next marine blue is found throughout the Great Plains, Plateau, South West, and Southern Plains and other hide, rawhide and parfleche work. Used as major color fills, outlines and detail work on many pieces.
B-3 The next marine blue has more of a slight reddish tint to the blue, nearly not discernable but used as widely as the marine blue above in the same context.
B-4 The next blue is a dark blue found on many pieces throughout North America and goes back further into antiquity as a trade pigment then the blues noted above, again used as outlines and for detail work, as well as to paint large areas on parfleche, rawhide and hide pieces.
G-1 A nice light green the color known as pond scum green in the literature, used as a rare outline color on transmontane parfleche work, as well as fill in for larger areas.
G-2 A very common rich green seen on parfleche/rawhide from all areas.
G-3 Another trade green widely used on the Plains, Plateau and all other areas. This one tending toward blue but still green.
Y-1 A very beautiful and hard to find color in the original trade pigment. A bright and much sought after yellow in its day and even more so now. Used throughout the parfleche painting areas of North America.
Y-2 A beautiful darker yellow, seen on a lot of Nez Perce, Crow, Shoshone and other Plains both north and south and other Plateau and Rocky Mountain front tribes. Widely used back then, a scarce color today! A color found across the Plains and in all other areas, made with a scarce pigment.
Y-3 A natural earth yellow used throughout North America for parfleche/rawhide and brain tanned hide work.
R1 Back in the day a common red trade pigment, used all over North America, not so common today, and an expensive pigment.
R-2 A very nice earth red, used all over North America for parfleche/rawhide work and also hide painting and face/body painting. This red earth goes way back in antiquity. I have seen this color in a cache in Wisconsin that goes back before historic/proto-historic times.
R-3 Another earth red, a sort of brick red seen on a lot of parfleche, this one goes way back too.
E-1 This is the beginning of a series of brown/tan earth pigments that get lighter as we progress through them. This one E-1 is very dark and when seen on parfleche is mistaken with black from a distance. This one paints a nice deep brown.
.E-2 A slightly lighter deep brown, seen on many parfleche
E-3 A dark brown tending toward a reddish hue but not that discernable.
E-4 Close to number E-3 but a bit lighter and different in shade and tone, this one is seen used across the Plains and Plateau.
E-5 A nice medium brown tone found on parfleche from all areas especially the earlier plateau parfleche and flat cases. This tone and shade of brown is also seen on Cheyenne and other Plains Indian material.
E-6 A light brown tan, seen all over the Plains and Plateau.
E-7 A natural black that can be polished to a shine after application. The polished form is a rare black found on Blackfeet parfleche and flat cases. Care must be taken with this natural pigment because it will smear if not applied right and is the only one that will come off on your hands a bit without water. None the less it is a rare and useful cookie in that it can be used for doing exact replications of the rare parfleche that have the polished black on them. If applied when the hide is at optimum water content it is self sizing like the rest of our cookies.
R-4 This color is not in the spiral photo above nor the photo below. It is tagged in a photo below the keyed and priced photo below. Although orphaned in its own photograph that does not mean it is not a prominent color in the range of colors for parfleche painting. It is another very prominent trade red that was used throughout the parfleche making areas of North America. It is a few shades lighter then R-1. The reason it is not with the rest is that we were unable to locate the pigment until just a short time ago. So now you have it!
For reference the first cookie B-1 is 1 5/8 inches in diameter. Because the pigment cookies are hand made the size will vary from 1 3/8 inches to 1 3/4 inches.
This color cookie was made from a scarce pigment that was hard to locate, but we were able to locate some!
1 A fresh hide is the best! Soak it in water and then wet scrape it. You can wet scrape in the frame or on a beam. I like the beam. Or you can soak the hide in water then tie the hide in a frame, and flesh it with a scraper. For a salted hides let it soak in water to remove the salt. Change the water several times over a 24 to 48 hours period for complete salt removal if you are using a barrel (or maybe even the bathtub!). I found a pond, lake or pool in a river or stream works the best and there is no need to change the water. You need to keep an eye on the hide though, so you do not lose it to animals.
2 For the most authentic results leave the hair on at this point. All painting will be done on the flesh side of the hide, while the hide is wet/damp. (You can take the hair off and still end up with good results and it is much less work.)
3 After the hide has been fleshed and is still wet tie it into a frame for painting. Tie the hide into the frame so it is tight but not so tight as to misshape the hide. You can use your scraper to help pull the majority of the water down and off of the hide after it is in the frame. You can also use the scraper at this point to tidy up the fleshing you did if need be.
4 Once you get the majority of the water out of the hide then it is time to stop everything and wait until the hide is at the proper point of hydration (water content). This can only be discerned by experience. The best way to test to see if the hide is ready is to try a cookie on the edge of the hide. If it leaves a distinct line and does not run or barely runs then the hide is ready to paint! Use your hands to feel the hide at this point so you can use “touch” in the future to discern if the hide is ready or not. Look at it closely too. Sight has a role to play in discerning the readiness of the hide for paint.
5 Now it is time to paint. Hopefully you have your design in mind, maybe a mental or physical template of the design. A straight edge if you are using it for outlines, which was done on some Shoshone, Crow, Nez Perce, Plateau and other parfleche designs. If the hide becomes to dry to paint on then you can mist it with some water and resume painting. Our experience with rawhide painting is that the best results are obtained on a hide that needs little or no misting. In other words, if you can finish painting the rawhide or parfleche completely before it becomes to dry to paint you will get superb results! The best time for painting is near evening when it is cool or in deep shade. Depending on conditions such as humidity, temperature, wind speed and direction, direct sun and other variables. We have found that you have one to four hours for painting.
6 After the hide is painted let it dry completely, cut it out and then pound the hair off. You can scrape the hair off before you paint, but we have found the best and most authentic results by pounding the hair off. Fold the parfleche, use weight to hold the folds for a few day.
This is a photograph of the contents from Cheyenne and Arapaho parfleche painting kits. You can see the various colors of paint cookies that were part of one of the kits. Also included are a markers and bone brushes which were also used in painting American Indian parfleche. These old artifacts were on display at the Chicago Field Museum years ago. This is significant because very few of these cookies have survived from earlier times.
There is another photo of these cookies in Mable Morrow's excellent book on Indian Parfleche. Here is what she had to say about those cookies.
"The seven disks are disks of pigments with which some workers painted on wet rawhide. The disk was held between the thumb and the forefinger, and lines were drawn and spaces filled in without brush or stylus; the disk took the place of both."
Barbeau, Marius 1960 Indian Days on the western Parairies, National Museeum of Canada Bulletin No. 163, Series No. 46/p>
Batkin, Jonathan 1990 "A Rare Apache Medicince Bag" In The Eye of the Angel, WHite Star Press
Boas, Francis 1955 Primitive Art, Dover (This book contains the only explicit information I know of the gives examplse of how to fold the large early boxes of the Woodlands/Prairie People.Coe, Ralph 1976 Sacred Circles, two Thousand Years of American Indian Art
Fletcher, Alice C. & Francis La Flesche 1905-6: "The Omaha Tribe." Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Gilman, Carolyn & Mary Jane Schneider 1987: The Way to Independence: Memories of a Hidatsa Indian Family. Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, Minnesota.---1923: The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Way of Life. Two vols., Yale University Press, New Haven, Ct.
Hassrick, Royal B. 1964: The Sioux: Life and Customs of a Warrior People. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Henry, A. and David Thompson 1897: New Light on the Early History of the Greater Northwest, Elliott Coues, ed., New York.
Hodge, Frederick Webb 1907-1910: Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. In two parts; Bulletin 30 of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Kroeber, Alfred L. 1902: "The Arapaho." Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, XVIII: 1-454.
Morrow, Mabel 1975: Indian Rawhide: An American Folk Art. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Spier, Leslie 1931: Plains Indian Parfleche Designs University of Washington press (Seattle, Wash)
Spier, Leslie 1925: An Analysis of Plains Indian Parfleche Decoration, 1925: Publisher: Seattle, University of Washington Press Series: University of Washington publications in anthropology., v. 1, no. 3
Torrence, Gaylord 1994: The American Indian Parfleche: A Tradition of Abstract Painting. University of Washington Press, Seattle.
Click the link below and type in "parfleche" in the search box, you will find hundreds of beautiful examples of parfleche from many different tribes!
American Museum of Natural History, Large collection of Native American painted parfleche, parfleche cases, parfleche bags, parfleche flat cases, parfleche flat bags and painted rawhide. (Type the term "parfleche" in the search box at this site.)
The next three links, take you to the Burke Museum digital collections. Each one links to a specific type of painte parflech bags or parflech cases. The first link is to the folded parfleche envelope. The second link takes you to the painted parfleche flat bags or flat cases which often have the long brain tanned hide fringes attached to each vertical side of the case. The third link will link you to the Burkes collection of painted parfleche cylinders, these painted rawhide cylinders are also known as parfleche bonnet cases or rawhide bonnet cases. Some of these painted rawhide cases also have the long brain tanned fringe hanging from the vertical seam as well as the bottom. None the less this is a great addition to your digital parfleche painting kit!
Other useful links that will help with your cyber parfleche painting kit:
Information related to painted hide and parfleche shields.
Information related to painted hide and painted parfleche used in the making of horse gear.
Painting by Nicholas Firfires.
Painting by N.L. Glazier
Great piece from the depression era!
#1 Grade- Huge Premium Garment Grade Ermine / Weasels With Tails "the very best!"
This is grade is the garmet grade and those are the very best skins.
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