Willow: Weaving Dreamcatchers

Sitka Willow

I love using branches from the Sitka Willow shrub, Salix sitchensis, to make dreamcatchers as gifts for friends and family. To identify the Sitka Willow, note the satiny white underside of the leaf and the shiny green top surface, as well as the shrubby appearance and the sandy riparian habitat. This hobby developed seemingly out of nowhere — I just all of a sudden had the great desire to make them one day. And whenever I have the great desire to do something, I do it. That’s how I originally got into urban foraging, actually. Out of nowhere, I just had the great urge to view urban weeds the same I was taught to view wild plants in the forest in wilderness survival school.

I used Google to find out how to weave the pattern, and as I drove to the store to buy artificial sinew, that old song “Dreamweaver” came on the radio. I’m not making this up!

I’ve long had a strong connection to the dream world. I find it easy to recall multiple dreams per night, and I sometimes receive advice and predictions about my life in dreams, and I find I also can interpret dream meanings for others. Plus, I had been collecting feathers off the ground and had plenty to do crafts with.

Making dreamcatchers is pretty simple. First, I bend the branch I want on the shrub to make sure it’s as pliable as I want. Then I clip the branch off the shrub and pull the leaves off. Then I bend the sticks into hoops and tie them into place with leather strips; that way, they dry into a useable frame. Next, I weave with artificial sinew as depicted here (follow the illustrations and not the words), adding gemstones to the center of the web where I want to. At the end, I cut leather strips and wrap them around the bottom of the hoop, to which I attach wooden beads and, into those, feathers.

Here’s what some of my work looks like:

Willow is also a physical medicine. Check out the wonderful how-to post Anna Mezger-Sieg Bradley wrote on turning willow bark into natural aspirin here.

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