How to Make Cone Bells

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Making Native American Cone Bells

Back in the day, I'm told that one branch of my ancestors, the Catawba, used to wear anklets made from turtle shells, to rattle while we danced.  These days, it might be difficult to find them in some places, and there also aren't so many turtles to spare.  So many of us have learned to make due with what's around, and there are lots of tin cans.

So we sometimes make our dancing bells from tin can tops.  Please make sure to wear sturdy work gloves when doing this project, to avoid cutting your hands.
Step 1

Using metal cutters or a sturdy pair of scissors you don't care much about, cut a round tin can top into quarters.
Step 2

Cut a small notch about  half a centimeter along one side.  This is the future "ring" that will allow you to secure your bell to the hem of your dress, or an anklet or bracelet.
Step 3

Using pliers and a mallot, fold the corner that is under the future ring, straight down.
Step 4

Likewise, fold down all of the remaining sharp sides.
Step 5

Using a needle nose pliers, curve the metal around, so that it forms a cone.
Step 6

Curve the strip that is sticking up at the top, under, so that it is partially tucked into the top of the cone.

These should be spaced about an inch or so apart at the hems of a garment, or anyplace else that shakes when you move.

Heavier tin can tops such as you would take off a can of vegetables make a deeper, stronger sounding rattle-ring while dancing.

Snuff or pomade tin tops will make a lighter sound that many women like.

I personally do not like the sound of the pre-molded cone bells.  Besides, they are available ready made by craft artists who make them the right way.

Good luck on your cone bell making projects :)

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© 2006 Nicole Lasher