Chasing The Dream: A Glimpse Into The Wondrous World Of Dreamcatchers And Its Makers
The increasing demand of dreamcatchers in the Indian market as a stunning decor item has inspired scores of dreamcatcher enthusiasts to make the transition from a mere hobby to full-scale entrepreneurship. As we delve into the wondrous world of dreamcatchers, we aim to learn more from the stories behind the makers who made the bold move, as well as the mysticism associated with the dreamcatchers themselves.
Swaying haphazardly in your window or soothingly above your baby’s cradle, dreamcatchers have always been more than just a form of pretty home decor. No, they’re not related to wind chimes that ward off the evil spirits — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a mysterious allure too. Thanks to its aura and beauty, dreamcatchers have increasingly intrigued people, inspiring positivity in their lives for centuries. In fact, in the recent past, its increasing demand in the Indian market as a stunning decor item has inspired scores of dreamcatcher enthusiasts to make the transition from a mere hobby to full-scale entrepreneurship. As we delve into the wondrous world of dreamcatchers, we aim to learn more from the stories behind the makers who made the bold move, as well as the mysticism associated with the dreamcatchers themselves.
The Legend And Mysticism Behind Dreamcatchers
Historically speaking, dreamcatchers can be traced back to the Ojibwa, an indigenous tribe in North America. Stories were passed down by generations that spoke about the ‘Spider Woman’ called Asibikaashi, who was known to be the protector of children. As the Ojibwa tribes spread to all the corners of North America, it became increasingly difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children and thus, the kids’ mothers and grandmothers started weaving magical ‘webs’ using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants.
According to legend, the ‘Bawaajige Nagwaagan’ (dreams snare) had the power to filter out nightmares, only allowing positive thoughts to remain in the mind. To achieve that, the dreamcatchers were decorated with items considered sacred, such as feathers and beads. The shape of the dreamcatcher is a circle because it represents how giizis — that is, the sun and the moon — travel each day across the sky.
Its Resurgence In Modern History
The legend of dreamcatchers soon spread to neighbouring tribes, but it wasn’t popularised until the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s in America. The Native Americans adopted it as a symbol of unity amongst its many tribes, and soon, it caught on and spread wide as a decorative item around the globe.
Dreamcatchers In India And Its Makers
While a handful of the urban populace knew about the existence of dreamcatchers, they have only risen to prominence in the past decade or so. Supply needed to match the surging demand, and thus, a few bold entrepreneurs took a leap of faith and turned a hobby into a full-time profession. Some of the top dreamcatcher makers in India today include:
Inspired by their mutual love for entrepreneurship, the husband and wife duo of Shahil Shah and Shrutti Dodia Shah quit their cushy corporate jobs and started Rooh back in April 2014. The couple works closely with artisans to create stunning 100% handmade dreamcatchers.
The brainchild of Tina Malkani Gholap and Swati Sharma, Hózhó is a Native American word that translates to ‘balance, peace and harmony’. The creative duo makes gorgeous dreamcatchers and dreamcatcher accessories and firmly believes that every piece created has its own story to tell.
Hailing from Shillong, Kritika was born and brought up in the lap of nature. Seeking inspiration from nature and her many travels, she believes that each dreamcatcher is made with a lot of love, and with the sole intention of spreading beauty and positive vibes.
An artist, a designer, and a musician, Siddhi’s creativity is her forte. Her brand Dark Reflections believes in the primal roots of man, where each unique piece created carries its own significance and meaning. From Warriors to Druids, Dark Reflections tries to capture the essence of these ancient beings, to pass on the wisdom and positivity that goes with them.
Sarah Lee’s baby Beautiful Things was created in 2014. The brand features fun and quirky art, focusing mainly on dreamcatchers. While Sarah don’t hold back on her creativity, she chooses to work only with natural raw materials, and does not support the use of plastic.
Making The Perfect Dreamcatcher
“No two dreamcatchers can be exactly the same,” says Kritika of Feather Works. “They are handmade and thus, it’s practically impossible to tie the same knot at the same distance for every other piece.” However, the sacred materials by and large remain the same. She continues, “I used beads, threads, and of course, feathers! I would want every buyer to purchase dreamcatchers not just as a decorative knick-knack, but to understand the essence, the story, and the thought that goes behind each piece. I’m always hunting for different kinds of feathers and embellishments to decorate my catchers. I love experimenting with colours, which is also my prominent feature.”
Siddhi, too, relies heavily on threads, beads and feathers. “I also love working with different kind of crystals and stones, shells, charms and most importantly hand collected materials from nature during my travels that give a personal touch and my memory of the experience,” says the face behind Dark Reflections.
Sarah Lee, on the other hand, has an obsession with beads. “And it’s the only reason why Beautiful Things is coming up with a new collection called Shine,” she says. “I personally prefer coloured stones and glass beads, because they’re easy to work with, look pretty, and also easily available here in Shillong where I’m based!”
As for Rooh, their dreamcatchers are completely handwoven in India. “Unlike a few others who are importing machine-made and bad quality ones from China and Indonesia and polluting our market!”, comes Shahil’s retort. “Each one of our dreamcatchers celebrates the skills of Indian craftsmanship, as it takes constant dedication and effort over a period of 45 to 90 minutes to create one.” Furthermore, the folks behind Rooh say they’re constantly looking to innovate in terms different shapes, sizes, and materials. “Our latest one of its kind innovation was printing customised designs and prints on canvas, and blending it with the concept of dream catchers,” says Shrutti. “We have launched the new ‘Canvas Collection’ too, with various designs and pictures ranging from a serene Buddha to the Rastafarian theme to Superman and Barbie prints as well.”
Tina, though, says she doesn’t like to limit herself. “Besides using various threads, we use anything and everything to create our stunning dreamcatchers at Hozho. We’ve used coconut husk, wood, dried grass, beads, crystals, semi-precious stones, and even some metals!” Swati, the second half of the duo, says her favourite creation is the ‘Sutli’. “That’s made using jute rope and shells, which look rustic and as close to nature as it can be. In fact, there’s a lot of homework behind each piece we create. We study the colour chart and look up significance behind each colour and charm. When customers approach us with specifics, we take a day or two to learn more and finally, suggest what charm and crystal could be used. And thankfully, we’ve always had excellent feedback on our suggestions!”
Modifications And Twists Today
As mentioned earlier, since dreamcatchers can only be handmade, each one is unique in its own little way. However, makers love to unleash their creativity, adding their own twists in the process to create something more. Apart from the regular ones, Feather Works is now making dreamcatcher chandeliers and lamps. Some of their best-selling pieces, in fact, have been the rainbow dreamcatcher and their lamps. Rooh, on the other hand, aims to incorporate the essence of a dream catcher into various categories of wall hangings, keychains, earrings, car hangings, and garden décor. Hozho’s best-selling product is the ‘Hózhó Bell’; a dreamcatcher with a double weave, a rainbow thread, and a bell as the centre charm, that is said to ward off negativity.
Is It Easy To Start Your Own Dreamcatcher Business?
Launching any business is never a doddle, let alone a creative one. As we know, creativity isn’t valued in the country, so to get people to pay for something they don’t completely understand or respect is a task. There are many more issues too, as Sarah explains, “I started Beautiful Things knowing that it’s going to be difficult, because a lot of people don’t know what dreamcatchers are. To be able to sell it, you need have incredible amounts of patience. It’s all for the love of art though, so I can’t complain.”
The views of Swati reiterate that point. She says, “The hardest bit about running Hozho is that there are many people who have no knowledge about dreamcatchers. However, most people come to us with an open mind — so we’re glad about that. We at Hozho have been the first to say that every dreamcatcher that tells a story. So by answering their queries in the form of a story, we’re happy to make one more person aware of this beautiful art and world of weaving dreams.”
Siddhi, though, has an understandably pragmatic approach — which is much needed while running any business. “The hardest part about being an artist and running something like Dark Reflections is the lack of monetary inflow and consistency in your monthly earnings, as opposed to say the financial security of a job,” she says. “However, with a little hope, faith, talent, and luck, it should work out just fine. The fact that it’s your passion that drives you on the path of creative entrepreneurship is extremely satisfying.”
How Can You Get Your Hands On A Gorgeous Dreamcatcher?
Visit the Rooh shop on Engrave.
Visit the Hozho shop on Engrave.
Visit the Feather Works shop on Engrave.
Visit the Dark Reflections shop on Engrave.
Visit the Beautiful Things shop on Engrave.