Ojibwe Art Study: Floral Designs


The Ojibwe People traditionally view their art as being an intrinsic part of their everyday objects, thus they try to make objects that are used everyday as beautiful as possible.  In the making of these beautiful things they believe they are showing respect to the Great Spirit. The Ojibwe people draw their inspiration from everything naturally occurring  and attempt to incorporate them in their designs, such as their floral motifs.

The Ojibwe People are renowned in particular for their floral designs, frequently seen in their beaded work.  We will be attempting our own beaded work but because it takes so long to do I will likely need to post about it towards the end of our studies.  For now I wanted to focus our art study on the actual floral designs and what better way to do this than by using a picture book:


The above picture book is not a picture book about floral art but it does capture the importance of the plant world to the Ojibwe people, not to mention the simplicity of their floral designs.  This was a really gentle starting point.  Ojibwe motifs are to be found on every page:

Ribbet collagefloralart5

And are very much a part of the story, as illustrated on clothes, shoes, flowers and general patterns:

Ribbet collagefloralart6
I love the simplicity of their designs and felt it would be very easy for the children to copy them.  In fact we were able to go one step further when, by accident, we were shown how the Ojibwe take their designs from nature.  I had bought a couple of kits for decorating Ojibwe bandolier bags:

DSC_0198ojibwe floralart
Each kit contains two bags already marked with beautiful floral decoration for the girls to colour or paint.  It was the extra bits and pieces which were included in the kit which taught us the most though.  Each kit contained a DVD with short clips, giving the history of the bandolier bags and the designs to be found on them.  We watched this during lunch one day and then read the information leaflet:

The leaflet gave the history of the Ojibwe tribe as well as examples of traditional Ojibwe bags:

Ribbet collagefloralart2

Aren’t they just gorgeous?  I had the girls begin to paint their bags to familiarise themselves with the floral motifs.  The bags came with crayons to use but I had read that acrylic paint works as well on fabric as fabric paint does, so the children chose to paint rather than colour their bags:


Even the younger two had their own bags which they enthusiastically decorated:


I thought A6 did a fabulous job, and was very careful about staying in the lines:


The older girls really enjoyed decorating their bags and over the course of the week spent hours carefully painting them:


C11, in particular, carefully copied the colours given on the front of the kit:


And here is the painted product.  They still need to decorate the bags with fringes and more floral art but they look great so far:


Ribbet collagebandolierbag

My favourite part of the kit was the leaflet’s explanation of how the motifs were drawn from nature.  You can see in each picture below a white simple outline of the plant:

Ribbet collagefloralart3
The leaflet also had separate drawings of these which could be traced if desired:

Ribbet collagefloralart4

But the children decided to attempt to draw their own motif by choosing a flower from our garden and, using the Ojibwe method of simplicity, drawing an outline for it:

Lavender, C11
Honeysuckle, L11
Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena, T12

I made a collage from all three just to see what they looked like collectively:

Ribbet collageojibwefloralartThey are so simple and yet are really quite beautiful.  I can see this new-found skill being used in the future, L11 with her art and C11 with her needlework.

Although this art study has been different from our usual studies, it had been one of my favourites.  For some reason, this floral art speaks to me and I, personally, can definitely see an applique project coming up in my future, using the Ojibwe method of extracting a wonderfully simple motif from nature.

All Things Beautiful


  1. I love this! This study just keeps getting better and better – which is saying a lot, because it started out wonderfully.

  2. The girls did such lovely work on their bags. As for me, I love all things nature, so this, too, appeals to my sense of the beauty of God’s world. Please pass along my compliments to your girls.

    Have a wonderful week, Claire.:)

  3. I love the way the bags are turning out. Lately, your blog keeps giving me all sorts of ideas of things I should buy for Rose. LOL

  4. Thereis a native ojibwe man Rabbet Before Horses, who does unbelievable art,and on someof the images he paints, wearing black they havebeautiful flowers,it is fascinating.He is out ot Red Cliff,Wisc.,USA,and hislast name is Strickland…They did a PBS Specialon him, and he has a book From Dreams may We learn,dvds Ma’iingan:Brother Wolf, and Rabbett Before Horses.He is fascinating,and it hits many areas and a neat variety of ttopics,and his artwork is fascinating ,and intrigueing as well…I will include my e mail, if I can remember it, but I do not think it is usable anymore…..

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