A parfleche is a Native American bag for securing foods like dried meat. The leather is tough and strong enough to act as a shield. As for design, native parfleches depict maps, rivers, or mountains.
Getting students to make a parfleche will help them recognize the value of historical objects while letting them exercise their creativity. If you want to learn how to make parfleche to teach to kids, then these are the things you need to do.
Prepare the materials
You need felt paper and a stiff paper. A spray starch will make normal or felt paper stiffer. Prepare pieces of shoelace or string, scissors, paints and brushes, and paper punch.
Prepare the paper
After spraying felt paper with starch, iron it. The paper should be pre-cut at 18 inches high and 14 inches wide. Trace a 3 ½ inches wide line on both ends of the shorter side, and another 4 ½ inches on each end of the longer one.
Fold the paper into two crosswise
Draw four curved lines, starting from the center of the folded paper, up to the inner edge of the lines you made earlier. Cut out the excess shape.
Trace the felt paper
Trace the paper’s shape into felt paper. Cut out the shape afterwards. Turn the paper upside down and paste the designs. Look for native and authentic Indian designs online that you can draw on paper. Each design has a specific color requirement, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with each.
Native museums also have available designs that you can copy. If you can’t find anything, try to develop your own design.
After drawing the shape, try painting the design with its corresponding color and let it dry for a while. You can also add small objects to enhance the design like small pieces of shaped wood, leaves and flowers, buttons, or feathers.
Prepare the bag
Turn the paper upside down. Fold the pointed parts of the top and bottom parts of the felt paper until the lines are straight. Use the edge of the lines you made earlier as basis for the fold.
Punch two small holes on the two edges of the paper. Fold it until the two holes meet. Refer to the rest of the lines you made earlier for basis. Place a piece of string or shoelace over the holes until you are able to close the parfleche. By now, you should have the design all around the bag.
After you’re comfortable with the initial parfleche shape, try making bags of other shapes. While a rectangular-shaped parfleche was originally used to store food, a tube-shaped one can store Indian headdresses made of roach or feather. A box-shaped one, on the other hand, is used to store moccasins and other articles of clothing.
In addition, let the students make their own research on available designs and colors, or let them develop their own designs. After a while, let them try making parfleche out of original materials like old jackets, bags, or clothes.