Porcupine Quilling

Porcupine quilling was the art used before glass beads came along. It is one of the lost art but being revived by many first nations.

Quills collected from the porcupine can be used for decorative work on skin, birch, or paper. A healthy porcupine can give up to three thousand quills. Roadkill quills are little less due to damage. The quills can be pulled by using blanket and pushing it to collect quills, make sure  gloves are used. Pliers can be used on roadkill as there would be less to pull out due to damage. The quills from the back and underside, plus the tail have  the long quills.

The quills cannot dye easily if it is punctured.  The quills should be washed in soapy water, takes about five hot washes to get the oily film out, then dry the quills on the newspaper. The quills are then sorted.

The Rit clothing dye  is used to dye the quills. Water mixture brought to a boil, add in the quills then put on newspaper after a rinse.  Years ago when water was used the water went acidic from the berries, and this made the color stay in and  stop the fading.

To use Rit dye you mix one package of powder,  Bring this to a boil  and  simmer then take off stove, stir so  quills are coloured evenly. The quills then taken out of water and rinsed in vinegar water to keep colors in. Put on newspaper to dry. Dampen quills before use.

Quills can be folded, wrapped,plaited, and sewn to clothing, bags, knifesheath, baskets, wooden handles, jewellery, birch, and moccasins.

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