How to Make an Indian Breast Plate

Written by mitchell clark
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How to Make an Indian Breast Plate
The breastplate is part of traditional ceremonial dress. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Native American breastplates were originally worn as protection while hunting or during battle. In the desert climate of the American Southwest, they were often worn over a bare chest in the hot summers and over a shirt in the cooler winters. The original breast plates were made with bone and tied together with sinew strips usually taken from a deer or buffalo, and were often created by a tribal "specialist." You can make your own "costume" breastplate from ordinary materials.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 100 plastic drinking straws
  • Acrylic paint
  • 100 large beads
  • String or yarn
  • Feathers or frayed string for decoration

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  1. 1

    Cut 50 of the straws in half. Cut the additional 50 straws into four equal pieces. Sponge a little dark acrylic paint at one end of each straw to give them the appearance of bone.

  2. 2

    Loop the yarn through a straw and place a bead on the outer end. Loop another piece of yarn through the same straw piece and a second straw piece, again placing a bead on the outer end. Continue until you have a strip of 25 straw halves. Start a second strip for the other 25 straw halves. These are the two outer strips.

  3. 3

    Use the above method to string together the quarter-length straw pieces to form two longer strips. These will be the inner strips of the breastplate.

  4. 4

    Tie the two long narrow strips together then tie a short, wide strip on each end.

  5. 5

    Add feathers or frayed string to the bottom of the breastplate. Tie a longer string to the top of the breastplate and tie the whole piece loosely around the neck.

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