Natural Elbow Dreamcatcher




About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

It all started with Bacchus' calumet - a pipe I made as a gift for my best friends wedding.
They were more than pleased with the present, and less than one year later they gave birth to a great son.
They designed me to be his godfather...

Now let me be a guy who believes in the positive energy of wood and the value of gifts coming straith from the heart.
So I wanted to give my newborn friend a kind of something special to be his companion during his first years.

I thought about a custom Bowie-knife.
But a Bowie-knife above the cradle wouldn't probably have been a great idea...


I decided to make something more peaceful.

I made a dreamcatcher.

Dreamcatchers are beautiful features designed to hang in children's sleeping place, at reach of sunset's rays.
In Native American cultures they're believed to capture bad dreams at night and be purified with the first sunrays of the new day.

You'll find thousands of dreamcatchers. All different in style, colour, pattern & size, but I'm quite sure there's only one like this ;)

Hope you like it!

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Step 1: Harvesting the Natural Elbow

The concept of a dreamcatcher is rather simple: a hoop, a web within & some decorations.

You can make the hoop with whatever you want. Many people use willow or vine, but I decided to make the hoop from olive - the same type of wood as Bacchus' calumet. Too bad not from the same tree.

I planned to use one single natural wooden elbow - with 3 bows you make a circle.
Natural elbows are fascinating features on a tree. They mark the moment at which the tree decided to change direction.

Using just one single elbow to make a hoop is kind of spiritual. It symbolizes growing up, making decisions, learning & changing directions but never forgetting roots & basics'.

Or how a wooden hoop becomes a metaphor for life...

So the day my friends son was born I took free at work and instead of reparing stuff I spent the day in South France's outback to find the perfect elbow for my newborn friend.

If you want to know more about responsable elbow harvesting you can visit previous I'bles like 'natural elbow boomerang' and 'kuksa carving'.

Result of that spring day in may: I got a beautiful elbow...

Step 2: Slicing

A few months of drying later the elbow was ready to be manufactured.

Slicing an elbow for a dreamcatcher is the same as for a boomerang: clamp the elbow in the vice & power your muscles cutting it.

Step 3: Fitting the Puzzle

My natural elbow wasn't strait in the Z-axis, so the slices were neither. Since the aim was to glue them together I tried to find the best match I could.

Once the configuration set, the to-be-glued margins were sanded and the whole was marked.

Step 4: Soaking in the Surf

The best way to change stresses in wood is to hotvapour & ply it like bow-makers.

Or to soak it a while (a day is okay), like me.

Reassemble it after the soaking - thanx to the marks! - and clamp to let it dry for the weekend.

Step 5: Glue 'em All

Clamps off.
Glue on.
Clamps on.

One margin at the time.

Step 6: Cutting It Round

Design the best circle you can get and use a jigsaw to extract it.

Step 7: Sanding

A lot of sanding, correcting with wood paste and again-sanding later you'll finally have a beautiful wooden hoop.

Step 8: Oiling

Oil & bare hands. Massage to the wood.

Wipe the access.

Walnut oil is perfect.

Step 9: Weaving the Web

There are many ways to weave the web of the catcher - going from psychedelic criss cross over survival fishproof to lotus and spiral patterns.

I chose the lotus way - not more than a series of loops - and I used natural hemp cord.

Start to fix the first series of loops to the hoop. I left a hand space between each loop. The looser the loops, the wider the petals will be.

After the first there's a second & a third series of loops, that will become smaller & smaller. Each loop is fixed with two knots.

The last loops are in fact no loops anymore but criss cross semi-loops to get it all well tensioned.

Step 10: Finishing

You can decorate your dreamcatcher as much or less as you want. Some use crales, stones, feathers, shells etc. and I saw even one with false silicone spiders...

Whatever. I choose the minimalistic way: just a few feathers (from vultures, found in the mountains), fixed with fisherman's nots.

If you have a beautiful hoop there's no need for more. My opinion.

Hope my little friend will like it, in a few years...

Thanx for watching!

Step 11: By Products

With the wood the was left over I made a door handle & a very nice boomerang.

Wastewood doesn't exist!

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    18 Discussions


    5 years ago

    I like it but I have some points to make. The wood is generally made from a single or multiple branches, if the single isn't wide enough. However I like the way you made this one, but I think if it was a little less perfect in shape it could look better. There is a story/point behind the amount of points a dreamcatcher has. 13 being the most traditional representing the phases of the moon. 8, which you made here, representing the number of legs on the spider woman of native lore. 7, representing the prophecies of the grandfathers. 6, representing courage. And 5, representing a star. The feather is meant to hang from the center of the webbing but understandably, for aesthetic reasons, people tend to hang them from generally symmetrical locations, as you did. In my belief, being that of the passamaquoddy tribe, the dreamcatcher catches all dreams, the bad dreams clinging tight to the web while the good dreams move to the center and run down the string and off the feather into the child. Generally the feathers used were Owl meaning wisdom which was a womans feather and an Eagle feather meaning courage which was a mans feather. Of course, for obvious reasons, the feahers you used couldn't have been those since that's kind of illegal, but they were a good choice, we have to tend to use whatever feathers we can nowadays. All in all, even though the dreamcatcher has been greatly bastardized for commercial sale, I believe that it is the intent not the method or manner. I enjoyed seeing your work, and also enjoyed the lack of waste. Good job and nice 'ible.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanx a lot for that interesting comment friend, I'll tell this to my little boy once he's a bit bigger. All the best to you.


    3 years ago

    Wow sorry man this is embarrassing haha. I didn't think any of those uploaded...


    3 years ago

    What tool did you use to measure where to cut your dream catcher?


    3 years ago

    What kind of tool did you use to measure the dream catcher before you cut it? And how long did you sand it?


    3 years ago

    How did you measure it to know where to cut? What tool did you use?


    5 years ago

    Hahah sweet! Thanks! Umm I'm not sure but I'll check it out! What was that stuff you put into the cooler to soak the wood?

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Step 11

    Lovely. I like how you looked at the grain of the wood.


    5 years ago

    WOW!! This is an incredible piece of art. What a creative, caring and thoughtful gift you've created for one very lucky child. I am very happy that I found this project, it's quite spectacular. I'm not sure if I will attempt creating one yet. I'm in awe of your "raw" talent. I'm excited to look at what else you made. Peace

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanx toolala, this is one of the most heartwarming compliments I got in, let's say, the last twenty five million years ;) If you like this kind of projects I've got a simple small advice just off the record: watch out my next I'bles ;) Peace


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing job! I really admire your talent and think it's cool you found uses for the leftovers :)

    1 reply