Museum Minute: Spoon Exemplifies Quill Work

Mar 29, 2021

Credit Plains Indian Museum

There are times when a curator of a museum may decide not to keep an object that came in with a larger collection. That's because of the damage or quality of the object.


Rebecca West, the curator of the Plains Indian Museum, came across this dilemma when she found a spoon that had a lot of damage to its decorative quill work.

"The issue is most of the quill work is missing," said West. "So, all you have left are the strings. And then you have a little bit of a cross design that's in red with a yellow and black wrap background and then some black bands."

West said the reason they decided that the spoon was special was because you could see the actual construction of the quill work.

"Quill work is still being done today. But unless you watch somebody do this, or if you have a tutorial in it, or see a video, it's really quite a mystery as to how you get these little tiny porcupine quills onto these threads," said West.

The spoon helps exemplify that story.