One of my long-time friends is pregnant with twin boys. Since one of my hobbies is fur and leather stitching, especially creating items to be used for some ceremonial or spiritual intent, she asked if she could commission me to create little Mojo Pouches or Spirit Bags (whichever people care to call them) for her babies. They are something special that she wants to use to keep small tokens as her boys grow. That way she can give them to the boys when they are old enough if they wish to have a special keepsake.
Of course I didn't let her commission me - I made them for her as a gift for her Mother's Blessing!
She gave me all of the specifics: the size is approximately 3" X 5", she wanted the materials to be entirely deer plus the other chosen animals (including the stitching), the colors were to be natural browns along with blue and green.
Anything else was to be the sort of good fortune, happiness, protection type symbolism for a child.
Here they are with closed flaps.
There are the open flaps- the toggle button area is more visible in this one.
Both bags have the same base, and are of the same pattern. I sort of made the pattern up as I went, since I had the brilliant idea of designing something totally different starting around midnight one night. On the cool side of things, when I went to bed I had a dream about finishing them- so my subconscious figured out the bumps in the road as I slept.
The bags are entirely deer leather, including the lacing. The super skinny lacing on the sides and the toggles was hand cut from a regular lace piece, I used some large sheers and cut each strip into thirds. The blue and green drawstring laces were originally white, and given new dye jobs by my super helpful boyfriend. (For some reason I couldn't find any colors at the usual stores this year!) They are tipped with little copper cones to add a bit of jingle, and for the beneficial properties of copper.
All of the stitching is done with real deer sinew as well. That is seriously hard work as compared to thread. I'm not sure if I will undergo that again for a while... All of the holes had to be made with an awl or a punch, good thing my boyfriend does some leather work so his tools were handy! It would have taken ages and been inaccurate if I was left to my own devices with a razor knife or box cutter.
I think it only took me about 4 nights to make these, complete with troubleshooting time.
This bag has a flap made of Caribou hide. The scrap I cut it from needed a little help, as someone prior managed to get glue or paper mache or something all over the fur on one side. A little work with a wet paper towel and some brushing brought it back to life!
The beads and buttons are slices of caribou antler, and the tip of an antler tine.
This bag is the Buffalo bag. The flap is a piece re-purposed from what was once a pillow. I ran the fur brush through it a few times to fluff it back up and take out any mats.
The toggles are buffalo teeth with some horn (hypothetically buffalo) beads to add dangle.
On the inside:
Each bag has an identical packet. They are made of the last bit of leather that the bags were cut from, and tied with a piece of elk leather lacing. I put together some special stones from my collection, so they each have the same things inside.
She was blown away when I let her unwrap them! All she expected were some basic square drawstring pouches with maybe some accents.
I was really happy to do something extra special for her, since we have been good friends for over 12 years!
Now I really want to make one for myself with some wolf fur scraps I have hanging around, and possibly some salmon leather if I see some available at the store!
Questions or comments welcome! If you would like more detail on stitching with sinew, or fur and leather stitching in general, feel free to ask. I have a ton of pictures of the pouch process and would be happy to share or write a tutorial on that type of stitching if people are so inclined.