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Saturday, November 05 2011 @ 08:08 PM

How To Make A Teepee


Nothing metaphysical about this story unless indian symbols qualifies...it's a bit long, but every word is the absolute truth....r.tate

By a Semi Grandpa

When 7 year-old Meghan arrived on Friday to spend the weekend with us, my wife, "Granny Alice" inquired as to how her week went at school. "Fine. I have to have a Teepee by Monday."
Granny was quick on her feet. "Well, maybe we can give you some Semi-help," which of course means me. I am "Semi" in the household when Alice's grandchildren are around. As sort of a semi-grandpa to them, many things fall in my court. This time it was a Teepee.

When this Teepee business was turned over to me, Meghan had some pretty serious questions relating to construction. At the top of the list was, "What do you know about Teepees?" As a former Boy Scout (back when the earth was a seething pit of molten lava and I was swamp scum), I claim at least a modicum of knowledge about things Indian. Like any grandpa or Semi-thereof in his right mind, my immediate inclination was to make an attempt to be extremely brilliant. "Well, a Teepee is the same thing as a Wigwam...isn't it?"
Blank stare from Meghan.

Quickly to the kitchen with Meghan close behind, I snatched from the drawer a full package of bamboo skewers. "What's that for?" Meghan is full of relevant questions. "We use these for Shish Kabob."
Meghan is also persistent. "I don't need a Shickabob. I need a Teepee."
Somehow I was able to convince her that every Teepee needed by Monday starts with bamboo skewers on the preceding Friday.

Saturday morning cartoons transfixed Meghan while I headed for Kroger to get paper sacks. Anyone who is going to build a Teepee must have paper sacks. Brown ones. Then what you do is cut out a big circle (in my case, it's a Semi-circle), carefully arranging seven skewers along the edge, all converging toward the center. Six is no good. If they are arranged any other way, when you join the sides of the Teepee it will appear to have been attacked by another tribe of Indians using bamboo skewers instead of arrows.
Trust me on this.

A generous squirt of Elmer's glue along each skewer will hold them in place. The drying time is interminable, so you can speed up the process by placing the whole affair on the top rack of your oven, set on WARM or LO. After about twenty minutes the glue will be dry and everything is starting to look pretty darn good, if not very professional. I suppose that depends on how serious you are about this stuff.

Next, I joined the whole thing together, from one side of the Semi-circle to the other and began to visualize a perfectly beautiful Teepee taking shape. Wait. On second thought it wasn't quite perfect and certainly not all that beautiful yet. But heck, I'm a semi-perfectionist, so I kept working, drawing random lines across the surface with little X marks along the way because everybody knows that many Indians made their Teepees from animal skins.
Buffalo. Deer. All kinds of skins. Those little X marks were my "stitches." Heck, everybody knows that. Shoot.

Now I had to tighten up the wrinkled sack paper to get the final shape. Simple. You wet the paper and as it dries it will shrink and you'll have a perfect Teepee. Once again, you can speed up the drying time by placing the Teepee in the oven on WARM or LO until the paper is nice and tight.

I retired to the great room for a bit of cartoon surfing with Meghan until we had a perfect Teepee. The fireplace was logged up and ready to light for a chilly evening. After a few minutes of suffering in The Simpsons mode, I began to imagine the fragrant smell of burning logs and animal skins.
Seemed awfully vivid... or else my imagination was running wild. "This is great...I think I'll go ahead and light the fire early." But first I had to check on the Teepee.

I was greeted in the kitchen by the heavy smell of smoking Buffalo skins. It billowed forth when I opened the oven door, reminding me of an Indian village that had just been torched by an unfriendly tribe. Perhaps the Cavalry. Meghan's perfect Teepee was a flaming inferno. I thought, Good Heavens! Thankfully, no one was in there. Checking the oven setting I discovered that instead of warming Meghan's Teepee I had in fact broiled it. Having invested approximately four hours on the project, amazingly I was not discouraged. However, thoughts did run through my mind of maybe having myself shot.

Back to the kitchen for more bamboo skewers. Back to Kroger for more sacks. Back to the kitchen to cut out another Semi-circle. Back to carefully arranging seven (not six) skewers. Back to squirting Elmer's glue. Back to placing the whole thing into the oven, this time on WARM, not BROIL. Shoot, everybody knows that. I checked the oven setting a dozen or more times to make sure that no outside unseen force had mysteriously reset the knob to TORCH. When I removed what had now become "the project," it was perfect. All skewers in place. Paper tight. Alignment ok. As I recall, there was a happiness tear in my left eye.

With wide-eyed Meghan studying every motion, I joined the sides of the semi-circle. "What's that stuff?" What was she talking about? Wait a minute. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Then she pointed to "that stuff." I had positioned the skewers on the plain side of the sack and when the sides were joined with the skewers on the inside...the outside was printed with a huge blue Kroger ad. Hmmm.

So, how do I get around this dilemma? I happen to be in the advertising business and I love to see ads almost anywhere...except on the outside of my... excuse me... except on the outside of Meghan's perfect Teepee. She could always tell her teacher that the blue Kroger logo was some sort of Indian symbol. Nope. She'll never buy it.

Back to Kroger. More sacks. Semi-circle. Elmer's. Everybody knows all that. Ready to go at it again. This time, rather than start all over, I kept the Teepee with the blue Indian symbols, squirted more Elmer's along the skewers, placed another semi-circle over the whole thing, warmed it in the oven, and...VOILA! It was ready. Double the paper, double the strength (this is very important in a quality Teepee) and it would have blue Indian graffiti on the inside. Joining the two sides together, I finished my random "stitching," wet the whole thing, stuck it in the oven on WARM not BROIL for a few minutes, then removed it while simultaneously calculating that the entire effort had only taken about eight, maybe ten hours. Ok, twelve.

Meghan appeared to be deep in thought when I presented her with a perfect Teepee. "Semi, what do I get to do?" Hmmm. Another relevant question. "Oh...well...uh...you have to...you have to color some Indian symbols around the outside of the Teepee and that will be the finishing touch. Oh, and be sure that the symbols are NOT blue...and they shouldn't look like a Kroger ad." While that seemed to satisfy her, she began to inspect the work. "Why are there two pieces of paper? The inside piece covers the sticks and you can't even see them except where they poke out the top."

"Oh... well... uh.. you have to.. uhhh... you need to tell your teacher that this is a very special Teepee and that this particular style is used only in the winter, and it has double-insulated skins so the Indians can stay warm... but without getting broiling hot." Shoot, everybody knows that.

HOW TO MAKE A TEEPEE | 1 comments |
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Authored by: grand66 on Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 07:16 AM
It was really an interesting story and I read about the help that you did for Meghan for making a teepee for her. I read the whole story making teepee using bamboo and paper sack with great interest. I too have a grandchild of the same age as Meghan and I hope this post will be helpful for me if I have to make one teepee for my grandson too. Thank god he did ask me to make canopy tent should find one. I am going to bookmark this post so that I can refer to this post about the tips of making teepee.

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