Make Your Own Dream Catchers and Mandelas

Dream catchers, the Native American design of a circular ring strung with twine and decorated with feathers, are beautiful and seemingly difficult to make. There are a few designs, though, that are very easy for even an amateur crafter. And, once you’ve purchased the items to make the dream catchers you can make several more with little extra cost since many of the items you’ll need come in packs of more than one.

From a craft or department store purchase metal crafting rings, feathers, faux fur in different shades, leather stripping, eighth-inch ribbon, and beads. Also choose string of various shades making sure the string isn’t really wide and doesn’t unravel easily. Hot glue will be a major help to make the dream catchers quickly.

Start with a medium size of the metal rings. In the beginning it will be easier to make the larger dream catchers and mandelas then go to the smaller sizes after a little practice. Cut a piece of faux fur about two inches wider, all the way around, than the craft ring. Cut one more piece that is about an inch smaller, all the way around, than the craft ring.

Use the glue to attach the fur to the craft ring making sure you keep it taught. Cut four ribbon pieces, one four inches long, and three eight inches long. Fold the smallest piece in half and glue both ends to the back of the top of the mandela. Glue one end of one of the long pieces to the bottom center, on the back. Glue the other pieces, one on each side, on the back. The top ribbon loop will be used as the hanger for the mandela.

Slide one bead each onto the side and bottom ribbon pieces. Slide the bead up next to the fur on each ribbon. Shoot a little hot glue into the hole on the underside of each bead then quickly insert three feathers in each. Pony beads or wooden beads will be the easiest to work with since they generally have large threading holes. Slide another bead on each ribbon, position it in the middle, then fill with glue and add three feathers each. Do this once again positioning the bead at the bottom of each ribbon. When finished glue the small circle of faux fur onto the back to hide where the ribbons are attached. “Comb” the fur with fingers to conceal where it’s been glued. Substitute leather strips for the ribbons to give the mandela a different look.

To make dream catchers, with the string patterns as we often see, you’ll need a little more time and patience. Using the craft ring start by hot gluing one end of string to the edge of a metallic hoop. This will be the top of the dream catcher. Stretch the string down to the exact opposite place on the bottom of the ring and place a dot of glue to secure. Make sure you place the glue on what will be the back side of the dream catcher. Go back up to where you originally started and glue the string one inch away from the string end. Go back down and glue the string to an inch away from the first bottom string. Continue this pattern until the hoop is wrapped in string with each piece being an inch from the next. Stop by gluing the end of the string in the center of the dream catcher.

Use strips of leather to make a hoop at the top for hanging, then glue it onto the backside of the top of the dream catcher. Cut three sections of the thin leather stripping, about 14″ long each. Pass one end through the strings of the dream catcher, at the bottom. Bring the two ends together and slide a bead onto them, scooting the bead up beside the hoop. Do the same on each side. Squirt a little glue into the hole of the bead, on the bottom side of the bead, then rapidly insert two feathers into the bead hole. Do this to each of the three leather strip pieces.

After affixing the first set of bead and feathers do another set, this time in the center of each dangling leather strip. Then perform the same action using a bead at the end of each leather strip. At the top of the dream catcher place a bead with the holes facing to the sides. Squirt in glue and insert two or three feathers into each hole. Choose a ceramic piece with Native American theme, such as a wolf, that is flat on the backside. Glue the piece into the center of the dream catcher and hang. Substitute an image, cut from leather, for the ceramic center piece. You can also do various patterns with the string. Wrap it until you have 5 sections, one inch apart, then skip 5 inches and begin the pattern again. Or, wrap it until you have four distinct sections of string (one each: top, bottom, sides) and four distinct bare sections. Practice using other designs with the string.

Find four sticks each approximate in length and circumference. Position the sticks to make a diamond shape with each point forming an “x”. Glue into place. Cut a piece of leather strip about six inches long. Slip it through the top of the diamond shape and bring the ends together with the hoop facing upwards. Slide a bead onto the two ends of the leather and quickly insert two feathers, allowing them to dangle in the center of the diamond. Now form three more of the hoops, securing them with a bead – one on the bottom and one on each side. Fill each bead with glue then feathers.

You can make all different kinds of dream catchers by using large pieces of leather rather than fur, different colors of fur, various shades of string, small or huge metal rings, different shapes and colors of beads and so forth. Each dream catcher will take on a different appearance by simply changing one or two things.

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