How To: Make a Dogbane Bracelet

By |
From Xplor: September/October 2018

Dogbane and Milkweed

Native Americans made twine from hundreds of different plants. Two that were commonly used, dogbane and milkweed, are easy to find nearly anywhere in Missouri. Look for dogbane and milkweed in pastures, prairies, along roadsides, and even in  vacant lots. Pinching a leaf off of one of these plants when the plant is still green will cause milky sap to seep from the wound.

Collect dogbane and milkweed stems in the fall, when the plants are brown, dry, and dormant. Cut off the stems a couple inches above the ground. This won’t hurt the plant. As long as you don’t pull its roots out of the ground, the plant will regrow the following spring.

Here’s What You Need

  • Dogbane or milkweed stems
  • Rubber mallet
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Scissors
  • Clothespin

Here’s What You Do

  • Snip off the leaves and branches. Lay the stems on a hard surface and tap them with a rubber mallet to crack them open.
  • Peel away the tough outer fibers from the stem’s spongy inner core.
  • Lay the fibers out in a skinny bundle, about 24–36 inches long. Spray the bundle with water to make the fibers easier to work with.
  • Grab the middle of the bundle with your hands 2 inches apart. Pinch the bundle with one hand and use the other to twist the fibers. Twist in only one direction. When the fibers are tight, bring your hands together, and a loop will form.
  • Hold the loop in one hand. With your other, twist one strand of fibers. When that strand is tight, bring it up and over the top of the other strand. Repeat with the other strand. Pinch the junction of the two strands to keep the twisting tight.
  • Continue the process of twisting and swapping strands until the twine is long enough to fit around your wrist. If you have to stop, use a clothespin to keep the strands from unraveling.
  • Tie an overhand knot in the end of the twine to keep the two strands from unraveling. Place the twine around your wrist and stick the knot through the loop.

Now that you know how to make twine, you can use it to make fishing line, rig up a snare, lash together branches to build a shelter, and all sorts of other useful things. To make rope, all you have to do is twist or braid together several strands of twine.

Also In This Issue

Jumping spider
Get eyeball to eyeballs with these awesome arachnids, and you’ll spy lots to love.
illustration of crows feed their young
It’s 6 a.m. on a Tuesday, and the busybodies next door have already been snooping around. They’ve discovered that one of your neighbors forgot to put the lid on his trash can. They know that another left her cat outside all night. And they checked to see if the guy down the street refilled his bird feeder. Nope. It’s still empty.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White