Indian Crafts To Be Shared Tomorrow

March 17, 1995|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Shelli McLean believes in Native American dream catchers.

"Dream catchers work for me," said Ms. McLean, a 25-year-old single mother. "I used to have some horrible, horrible nightmares. Now I don't. I gave one to a friend for her little son who used to have bad dreams, about a year and a half ago, and now he doesn't have the bad dreams."

Native Americans, she explained, would hang a dream catcher near the smoke hole or the entrance to their tepee or home to catch good dreams. The dream catchers are decorative circles with webbed material and feathers, and perhaps some beading.

"The Native Americans believed dreams were living things," she said. "They believed the good dreams could find their way through the web and down the feather and into people's heads to influence them.

"The bad dreams couldn't get through the web and broke up or got sent back to dream land."

Ms. McLean's hobby of making dream catchers and other Native American crafts stems from her fascination with Native American lore and lifestyle. Throughout most of her life she has had close friends who are Native American.

"I'm a member of the wannabe tribe," she joked. "I love the free style of life of the Native Americans, and I feel that when we came over to this country we treated them wrong" in many ways.

Ms. McLean will share her love of Native American culture from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at SERRV International Gift Shop at New Windsor Brethren Center. She will demonstrate dream catchers and mandellas, the ceremonial pieces used to keep good spirits in, and tell the Native American legends behind the crafts. She also will sell some of her jewelry, mandellas and dream catchers.

Different tribes have different beliefs, she noted. The way a person wore his hair, the colors he used in his ceremonial items, the style of clothes he wore, all depicted his tribe.

Ms. McLean became serious about her Native American crafts about five years ago.

The windows of her mother's home in Baile, where she lives with her 3-year-old daughter, Andi, sparkle with colorful beaded and feathered dream catchers and sun catchers.

The kitchen table is covered with jewelry -- earrings, necklaces, button covers -- more dream catchers, a medicine pouch, barrettes. She's also made leather purses and slippers for her daughter and beaded clothing, such as vests.

Her crafts, which are self-taught, are her way of responding to a way of life she feels was wronged and that she herself believes in.

"I've been reading about Native American lore for years. There are beliefs there that I hold more true than Christianity because it's more true to life," Ms. McLean said. "Like, why go to church when your church is outside? Every blade of grass, the trees, that's religion. Why go into a building to worship when you can be at one with nature outside?"

She's fond of feathers and enjoys the attractive items she can make with beads, although she acknowledges that to be tedious, but useful, work. "I want to get into working with kids with motor coordination problems. Beading is good hand-eye coordination work," Ms. McLean said. "I've already helped two friends' children with motor coordination making beaded crafts."

She works her crafts around attending Towson State University to earn a secondary education teaching degree and working on the EnterTRAINment Line as a bartender.

Also active on citizens band radio, she is called Free Bird. Though she hasn't made a business out of her crafts, she sells some pieces on consignment at Simple Additions in Carrolltown Center in Eldersburg. At Christmas, her crafts can be found in the Country Roads shop at Cranberry Mall.

For information on Ms. McLean's demonstration tomorrow, call the SERRV gift shop at 635-8711.

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