Dentalium Dollar Bill


Since the semester ended I’ve been trying not to do much of anything where I have to think!  It has been really great, but today I was actually motivated to start working on my art project related to my participation this past fall in the Emerging Artist Program for the National Museum of the American Indian.  I’ve had ideas running through my head related to dentalium shells—which were used by many tribes as currency—and paper money, but until today they had remained mere ideas.  I found a note and sketch I’d done back in October where I was thinking about materials and putting dentalium shells onto a hundred-dollar bill:


dentalium money notes  


And then for my Directed Studies class presentation I made a conceptual model of my idea using Photoshop:




But when I was ready to get started on things today, I was realizing that it might be smarter to start smaller.  I wanted to use gold-filled wire to attach the shells onto the paper bill, but wasn’t sure how well it would work.  Instead of starting out with a hundred-dollar bill, I took a one-dollar bill and experimented with it. 




I’m still thinking of other ways to experiment with this project and see where it will go.  Ultimately, I envision it as a series of various “dentalium bills.”  We’ll see what happens! 


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