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Porcupine quills boxes worth thousands

Thursday December 20, 2012
Wikwemikong’s Martina Osawamick has sold some porcupine quill boxes from her Zaawmiknaang craft shop for thousands of dollars.

Wikwemikong’s Martina Osawamick has sold some porcupine quill boxes from her Zaawmiknaang craft shop for thousands of dollars.

“The quill boxes range from $2,400 (up to) $3,000,” Osawamick said. “We sold one about a year ago and it’s worth like $10,000. It’s very intricate work and it’s very time consuming. It doesn’t take three months — it could take longer to make a big box like that. The one I sold (a year ago) was 16 inches across.”

Osawamick said every part of the quill boxes she sells is natural except for the synthetic thread.

“They have them in museums for $10,000 to $15,000,” Osawamick said.

Although Osawamick sells a wide range of intricately designed crafts at her craft shop, which is located in Wikwemikong, she has also been learning how to make a variety of simpler craftwork, such as keychains and lanyards, since she retired from working at Cambrian College.
“It does take a lot of practice,” Osawamick said. “It’s like when you make fry bread, you have to have years and years of practice. But the beadwork — I’m just starting to do that.”

Osawamick and her partner, a Navaho craftsman from the United States, usually travel along the powwow trail across North America to sell their wide range of traditional crafts.

“We spend our time in Florida and that is when we do the work,” Osawamick said. “My partner does the medicine wheels and the dreamcatchers. But we have other relatives that do a lot of our work as well, so that is why we have quite a few things on our table here.”

Osawamick said the silver and turquoise jewelry is from her partner’s home territory in the United States.


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