Crazy Crow Trading Post
Crazy Crow Trading Post
Crazy Crow Trading Post
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Porcupine Roach Montage  - Photos Courtesy of Gathering of Nations Powwow


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Note: Click any image/diagram to enlarge.


ATTACH Your First Bundle

Fig 4A - Tie your bbbbin to the base cord - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)
Fig 4B - Tie the primary knot - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)
Fig 4C - Tie the secondary knot - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)
C-clamp the tying board to your worktable to prevent it from sliding, and wax the base cord. Let out 10”- 12” of thread from the bobbin, wax it, and tie it to the base cord at the right end of the 32” section as shown in Fig.4A, use a square knot followed by 2 secondary knots.

Grasp a bundle of approx. 12-15 strands of porky hair from the under 5” length and fold 1/4” of it over the base cord, about an inch to the left of your first knot. Pinch the hair firmly on the base cord using the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, and tie a primary knot with the tying string. (Fig. 4B) Pull the knot snug with a smooth action (do not jerk it), pulling up and to the right. Release the hair and tie a secondary knot as shown in Fig. 4C to secure it firmly. It is important to use bundles of a approximately the same size in order to produce a nice, even looking roach, but it is not necessary to count the strands of hair. Proceed in this fashion, changing hair sizes when indicated by your marks.

After you tie the first section, you will know approximately how much hair it takes to tie an inch of length, and these sections can be adjusted if necessary, as discussed above. When you complete the row, mark the center and cut it off of the tying board.

Often, a short (approximately 5”-6”) row of porcupine hair is added to the front of the roach to give it a fuller look. If you have enough of the longer hair, we suggest doing this. This should be done using the same length hair you used in the front 3 sections of the main row of porky hair.

This is essentially the same procedure as used with the porky hair. Mark off a 34” section (40” for Deluxe) on the base cord this time, and then mark the center. Using only the white hair from the deer tails, clip off a small bunch using the following method.

Between the thumb and forefinger, grasp a small bunch of deer hair, slightly larger in diameter than a round toothpick or approximately the same size as a 16 penny nail. Tied deer hair should also average around 8 bundles per inch. However, it will require a larger number of strands of deer hair than porky roach hair to accomplish this because the deer hair is much thinner. As you progress, it will become easier to judge exactly the right amount of hair to use in each bunch. Be particularly careful to keep these bunches as close to the same size as possible so as to insure a nice, even looking roach.

Fold approximately 1/4” of the cut end of this bunch of hair over the base cord. Tie the two knots while keeping the hair pinched firmly between the thumb and forefinger on the base cord. When clipping the hair from the tail, try to cut equal lengths (about 3-1/2” long). You cannot trim deer hair after it has been tied. Never cut the top of deer hair. When tying deer hair, it should be remembered that it also varies in length and if some of the hair you are using is longer, it should be placed in the center of the cord, much like the porky hair. This will produce a roach that has a much nicer and more tailored finished appearance. Note: It is natural to try to tie deer hair bunches too large; however, these will come apart and ruin your roach so don’t overdo the bunch sizes! Wax the tying string as you proceed.

If you wish to have a row of deer hair lining the inside of your roach, you will need to purchase 2 or 3 more deer tails. The inside row of hair is tied about 2” shorter than the outside row, 32” for the Standard Roach, and 38” for the Deluxe 18” Roach.

If you would like a deer hair color other than white, or if the white has a yellow cast to it, dyeing will take care of this. RIT© dye is recommended, and it is best to boil the row of tied deer hair for 7-10 minutes (or to the desired shade), then remove it and hang it up to dry. Next, wash it with a solution of dish washing liquid to remove excess dye and hang it up to dry again. The roach base can be dyed using this same procedure.


Fig 5A - Sew rows of hair to the base - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge) Fig 5C - Sew rows of hair to the base - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)
Fig 5B - Sew rows of hair to the base - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)

Pin the row of hair onto the roach base, being certain it is centered. The folded ends of the tied hair should face away from the base. If you are making an inside row of deer hair, this should be pinned on first, and then the row of porky hair. Pin the deer hair on next, with the short, folded ends of the hair facing inward so they won’t show. Keep all rows tight and flat against the base while pinning and sewing. The rows should also be even with the bottom of the base. Space the pins no more than 1” apart, and re-pin any areas that are not exactly right. This is a very important step and really affects the appearance of the finished roach so do not rush it. If the tail pulls to one side, loosen that side or pin the other side a little tighter. Sew the hair as shown in Figures, 5A, 5B, & 5C, starting from the front and proceeding 1/2” per stitch, all the way to the back. First sew one side and then sew the other. Do not use a whipstitch! Sew into the knots to hold the hair firmly. Any overlapping hair at the end of the tail should be overlapped and sewn as usual, and about 1/2” of the excess string should be tucked in behind the row so it does not show. If you wish, you may trim it to a perfect fit, but if trimmed, be sure to sew the ends securely in place to prevent the tied hair from coming loose. Also, a small drop of glue here would be a good safety precaution.

Fig 6A - Shaping your roach - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)


To shape the roach, you will need a cardboard tube approximately 1-3/4” in diameter by 20” long (22” for the Deluxe Roach), or you can roll up newspaper into a tube of like dimensions. For a permanent storage, we highly recommend one of Crazy Crow’s wooden roach sticks, which also works very well for this shaping process. Wet the entire roach and comb out the hair as shown in Fig. 6A. Place the top of the roach on the tube and fold the tail down, parting the hair to each side of the tube. Comb the hair downward and wrap it all with a 1-1/2” wide strip of white cloth (an old bed sheet works well) or elastic bandage that has been dampened. Be sure to keep the hair & base straight up & down along the tube while wrapping, as this will give the roach its permanent shape, similar to a woman’s permanent. Allow the roach to dry overnight, or it can be placed in the sun to speed the process.

Fig 7 & Fig 8 - Making a spreader - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)

If some of the hair did not turn out straight, repeat the process, but this time wet only the portion you wish to reshape. The roach should be stored permanently on this tube or on a wooden stick to maintain its form. See Crazy Crow’s Roach Care Instructions for further details on this.


A roach spreader can be made from leather, bone, elk antler, brass, or German silver. Leather is the easiest material to work with and we offer the following instructions for a simple style. Cut a piece of heavy leather (strap leather works quite well) so that it fits on the base and just touches the inside row of hair. Punch a hole over the hole in the base. Punch another hole 1/2” from the first hole. See Fig. 7. Take an 8” piece of coat hanger and, using pliers, bend it as in Fig. 8A. Run the long end up through the back hole and tape or stitch the other part of the wire to the bottom of the spreader. If you prefer a 2-socket style spreader, run both ends of the wire up through the base as shown in Fig. 8B. Tie a knot in the middle of a shoe or boot lace and slip both ends through the first hole in the spreader and then through the hole in the roach base. See Fig. 9. Run a second lacing through the roach base itself, about 5”-6” up from the tail end.

Fig 10 Spreader Templates - Porky Roach Kit Instructions (click to enlarge)

Click spreader image to enlarge & print full-sized template.

Your roach is now ready to wear!

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Warriors Of The Plains: Native American Regalia & Crafts By M.S. Tucker and Joe W. Rosenthal, Published by Crazy Crow Trading Post
Warriors Of The Plains: Native American Regalia & Crafts By M.S. Tucker and Joe W. Rosenthal represents years of research efforts. We offer a preview of several pages to show the quality of the construction detail, historical images, contemporary photos and illustrations of the many dance outfits presented.
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The Plains Warbonnet: Its Story and Construction - by Barry Hardin, Published by Crazy Crow Trading Post
The Plains Warbonnet: Its Story and Construction by Barry Hardin has been in the works for years, and is the result research and contributions from many fine craftspersons. Preview several pages to show the quality of the construction detail, historical images, as well as contemporary photos.
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