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Porcupine Quill Workshop

Porcupine quill embroidery is a true American art form. Long before glass beads from Europe were exported and traded in the Americas, many natural materials were used for the adornment of traditional regalia. In this workshop, you will engage in the entire process of quillwork. Join us as we experience the quill art process, from extracting quills from a pelt to cleaning to applying them as an embroidery fiber. You will create your own smoked, brain-tanned deerskin drawstring pouch with embroidered quill adornment.

You will begin by removing quills from guard hairs from a porcupine pelt and washing the quills to remove dirt and oil, then sorting the quills according to size for embroidery, wrapping, and stringing methods will be taught. You will also dye quills using vegetal and commercial dye baths. Once quills are prepared, you will engage in practice exercises and learn the zig-zag, banding outline, and single quill line embroidery methods. 

Once the materials are prepared you will have the option of creating a drawstring medicine pouch to adorn with the quill embroidery, a medallion (necklace), or cuff bracelet. By the end of class you will have completed at least one of these projects.


  • Padded seat cushion for comfort
  • Clip on lamp for extra lighting
  • Reading glasses if necessary for fine work

Melanie Sainz (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin) has worked as an art educator in both public and private schools for over 30 years. As an artist who enjoys teaching about art, Melanie strives to educate students about appreciating art through the lens of the art maker. Her artwork has been shown in exhibitions throughout the US, and she has won awards at prestigious art markets including the Eiteljorg Museum and the Heard Museum. Melanie is Executive Director of Little Eagles Arts Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the arts and culture of Native people through providing quality cultural arts education programming.

Native American & Inland Empire Teacher Scholarships 

Generous donors have made scholarships and fellowships for adult workshops available on a limited basis for these specific groups:

1) Native American Community Leaders, Artists, Members, and Teachers

2) Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

Scholarships include tuition, dorm housing, and all meals provided by the campus dining service.

Scholarship Details: 

1) Native American Community Members, Leaders, Artists, and Teachers

For adults 19 and older with current tribal affiliation, the scholarship brings community leaders, artists, members, and teachers to workshops at Idyllwild Arts to benefit both the scholarship recipients themselves and those in their schools or tribal communities. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. We also offer scholarships for Native American Teens for both the Summer Program and the Academy.

2) Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

For teachers and graduate students from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and the adjacent areas), this scholarship brings teachers and graduate students to Idyllwild Arts to attend Native American Arts workshops. The Native American Arts Workshops benefit both recipients and their students and communities, providing culturally appropriate instruction and professional development to teachers and graduate students. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Click here for more information about adult scholarships.

Age: 19 years and above

Dates: June 27- July 1, 2022

One-week session

Tuition, room, and board: $1,515

Day student tuition: $790

Lab Fee: $80, includes beading and sewing needles, thread, beeswax, awl, brain-tanned deerskin, porcupine pelt.

Skill Level: All levels

Enrollment is limited to 14 students

Faculty: Melanie Sainz

Melanie Tallmadge Sainz 2 - Melanie Sainz
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