Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monkey Moo's Birthday Teepee

When my cousin's child(my other daughter) was 3, a friend saw a teepee made on the PBS network. She took some notes and passed them along to me. For Peggy's 4th Christmas, I made her a teepee and painted it. That was 15 years ago and since then, I've made many and given them to friends for their grandchildren's enjoyment. Now you would think the grandparents would give the kids the teepees to take to their homes to play with, but no, they keep them at their house.

Well MonkeyMoo is turning 4 in December, and I've had his teepee sewn together for at least 18 months, but dreaded the actual painting of it. I tend to try to better myself with each teepee and try not to do too much duplicating. MonkeyMoo is all about cowboys, but the only Indians he's familiar with are the ones that are from India. This teepee is going to be an educational tool to teach him about the Native Americans of our country.

The neat thing about this teepee is that the poles come together, the panels wrap around them and then it fits in a bag and slides under the bed. This is a picture of the teepee in it's bag and then out of the bag.

When I make a teepee, I try to include things that are special to that child, and I also like to tell a story. MonkeyMoo is funny about the moon and can spot it instantly. This summer when I was visiting, we were driving home and I said there's your moon. He quickly told me "no, that'a not my moon. That is the San Diego moon." Seems according to him, his moon was in Africa on "bacation", and this was at 3 1/2.

The top of the teepee is about the sky, so needless to say, the top of MM's teepee had to be about the moon and stars. I have painted a different phase of the moon on each panel of the teepee, banded by a band of light and then a band of stars.

The bottom of the teepee is the part that says something about the land and the seas, and the middle sections tell the story. I used feather symbols with the earth tone green for the bottom border.

The front panel is the entrance and for me usually gives the warrior's name. I'm thinking White Eagle, so I painted a bald eagle on one side of the entrance. We have bald eagles here on the creek, and we always go looking for them whenever MM is here for a visit. The right side of the entrance is showing the lances and shields, signs of a warrior. Now MonkeyMoo is all about hunting and camouflage. The sign of the sun is over the front door.

There is a family of foxes that live down the road from us. People have fed them so they hang out there everyday around dusk. This summer when MM was here, we would drive down to see them every evening. I thought it would be neat to add the foxes to MM's teepee. Another reason for adding the fox scene, especially the reflection part, is that in Plains Indian stories, the fox is the trickster. Stories of the fox and his ways were used to teach lessons to the Indian children. There is a Indian story of a Fox and a Porcupine and how the porcupine used his reflection to outsmart the fox.

At this point, I think I should add a disclaimer that I am not an artist. If I can see a picture of something I can duplicate it, and with my early teepees, that's what I did. Of course, with MTC and a Cricut, I can cut out the shapes and then I only have to paint it.

The next panel displays the hunter's prowess by showing a buffalo hunt. This is a scene I have painted on several teepees, simply because it the hunt for buffalo was such a basic part of the Plains Indians lives. They wasted none of the buffalo using everything from hides for clothing, the meat for food and the bones for decorations and tools.

My husband has been elk hunting in Colorado. Elk are some magnicificent creatures. My daughter had specifically requested that the teepee have an elk and an eagle on it, so on this panel I included both.

The last of the five panel is a scene I've painted many times. It's horses running wild, much as they still do in parts of the Rocky Mountains. I can only imagine how glorious a herd of wild horses would have looked in the times of the Plains Indians, but I'm betting it was a sight to behold.

MonkeyMoo loves horses and loves to ride them. He almost wore his Grandpa out this summer when he rode in the ring all by himself(DH is walking beside him) for two hours in some terrible heat.

Sewing the teepee together and painting it are not all of the project. Thanks to my husband for cutting the poles, drilling the holes and helping me to assemble the teepee. I couldn't have done it without you honey(I'll keep telling him this).


  1. Shirley. . . this is INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!! I SO wish that my son was younger. . .I'd have you make one for him and have you send it to me. Hey. . . maybe for my great nephew when he gets a little older! Now there's an idea!!!!! Just adorable!!!

    Fabulous painting, ideas and incredible work. What a big job. These TeePee's better be kept forever!!!
    Wonderful stories too :o)
    Lucky Monkey Moo and all the other little ones you have spread love on by making these for them!
    Hugs, Candy

  3. Shirley, it's beautiful! =)
    Hugs, Elenor


  4. WOW Shirley, it is beautiful. I can see a lot of work and love went into it.

  5. Shirley, this is amazing. Monkey Moo is going to love it.

  6. Holy Cow Shirley!! This is amazing! What a lucky Monkey Moo. ~jeni :)

  7. Taz, this tee-pee is amazing. Monkey Moo has got to LOVE it. As a grandmother whose grandson is a former recipient of a TazTeePee, I can attest to how much children love them. Many happy hours spent in that thing! You're an amazing talent.

  8. Oh my heavens, Shirley! This is absolutely gorgeous! I want to place my order now for all my future-yet-to-be-made grandchildren, LOL!

  9. Shirley it is AMAZING!!!! WOW - I can't imagine how you did that!! And, I'd say that you are definately an artist! I'm in total awe!!
    Beautiful job, I'm sure MM will absolutely adore it!!!
    By the way, I'm pretty sure that his NY "twin" Alex would really like one - her 4th birthday is in December too!!! ;)
    Great job!

  10. Shirley, you absolutely blew this one out of the water. What a special gift for your special little guy and MM is going to love this. Your painting is fantastic. Is there nothing you can't do, girlfriend?

  11. I tried to comment the other day and blogger was not in the mood, so I am back today to congratulate you. Your artistic skills amaze me. Everyone of my grandchildren would have loved having this to play in. You are amazing! Monkey Moo is one lucky little boy.

  12. OMG, Shirley, this is AMAZING!!! I'm completely in awe - MM is going to FLIP-OUT! hehe You are an awesome gma. :)

  13. Shirley no matter how many times I look at the pictures, I still sit here in absolute AMAZEMENT honey!!
    WOW!! (I know, but I cannot find the words to do it justice!)

    My little Albie would adore this, you are so wonderfully talented. How superb is this?!xx