~How did you get started making Tipis? In 1997, I responded to a job ad at a small Tipi company in the town where I lived. They hired me on the spot. However, the owner said he could not train me, since he had relied on the former seamstress to know how to do this, and she had left the job several months before. He hoped I could figure it out! There was one finished Tipi in stock, and with the help of the book “The Indian Tipi”, I was able to teach myself how to make Tipis. (I had learned to sew from my Dad at the age of 10, and had been making custom clothing for many years.) After a couple of years, I left that job and launched my own Tipi business.
~Are you Native American? I am a Chippewa descendant, through my paternal Grandfather. His Great-Grandmother was half Chippewa.
~Where are you located? I live near Newport, Washington and my workshop is near Priest River, Idaho.
~Is the size based on the height or the diameter? The size is an average diameter. The Cheyenne and Sioux style Tipis create an egg-shaped area when pitched, so I take the measurement from front-to-back and the measurement from side-to-side, and average the two. For example: For a “16-foot” Lodge, the front-to-back measures 17.5 feet, and from side-to-side measures 15 feet. I take the average and call this a 16-foot. *Not all Tipi-makers use this formula....some use only the front-to-back measurement and “round it up”. So the 17.5 feet is rounded up and sold as an “18-foot”, but it would be the same size as my 16-foot. When comparison shopping, always ask how the Lodge is measured for size. This sizing difference makes the pricing appear higher for my Tipis.
~How does Hemp canvas compare with Sunforger? Please check my BLOG page for this information.
~What kind of tree are the poles made of? I use Lodgepole Pine.
~What is the purpose of the liner? The liner is an inner wall of canvas that is tied to each pole at ground level and at about 5 feet high. It serves several functions. It provides insulation by eliminating air draft across the ground inside the Lodge, while creating a channel of air flow around the sides to help the smoke draft up from the fire. This helps also to keep out bugs and critters. It also provides privacy by blocking the occupants' shadows from being visible at nite from outside the Lodge.
~How long does it take you to make a Tipi? That depends on what size I'm making, and if there will be a liner also. Anywhere from 1 day to 10 days.
~How long will it take to arrive once I order? Each Tipi is made-to-order, and I am a one-woman-show. I do not keep any “in stock”. In the “off-season” (October thru March), I can usually ship out in 2 weeks from the time your deposit payment is cleared. However, I don't have poles readily available until May. During the “on-season” (April thru September), it can sometimes be 4-6 weeks to complete your Tipi, as I make them in the order the deposits are received. Best to place your order in early Spring! Actual shipping (via UPS) takes 2-6 days, depending on your location. If you are having poles shipped, they will take a week or more to arrive.
~Can you ship the poles to me? Yes. They are shipped via freight truck, which can be very expensive. I recommend acquiring poles locally in your area if you are not in the Inland Northwest region. (Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho/Western Montana.) Locally in this region, I can arrange to deliver them personally and help with set-up, if needed. Contact me for a delivery/set-up quote.
~How long does it take to put the Tipi up? If you are inexperienced, allow for half a day. With practice, it can go up in less than an hour. Installing the liner takes additional time.
~How many people does it take to put the Tipi up? The smaller sizes (9'/12'/14') can be easily pitched by one person. The middle sizes (16'/18') will require 2 or 3 folks, and the largest will need 3 to 5 folks. I think it's way more fun to have extra folks helping!
~Does the price include artwork? No, the prices are for plain canvas.
~How much does artwork cost? Depending on what size the Tipi is and how elaborate the design you choose, I will estimate how many days it will take to paint. The minimum cost is $200. This would be for a small Tipi with a simple design. Some folks decide to have just the door flap painted, which is $50-$100.
~How many years will it last? This varies according to how it is cared for and the climate conditions. 8 to 10 years average. The best way to prolong the life of the canvas is to give the entire cover a very thinned coat of exterior latex paint (50/50 water-to-paint). Do this within the first 3 years of use and you will protect against the main causes of deterioration: Mildew and Ultra-Violet rays. Painting won't help much if the canvas has already begun to deteriorate from UV, but it will arrest mildew growth. I recommend that the lower portion of the liner be painted this way as soon as possible, as it is most exposed to direct contact with the earth.
~Can I have a fire inside? Yes, this is one of the most wonderful aspects of Tipi life! There are some necessary precautions with fire in the Tipi. I never recommend it in the 9-foot size. In any other size up to an 18-foot, PLEASE use a spark-screen over the fire. I prefer using a metal fire bowl rather than a ring of rocks directly on the ground, but either way, the spark-screen is a must. Sparks can travel up thru the smoke flap opening and then float back down and land on the outside of the cover. It's unlikely that this will set your Lodge on fire, but it may leave small burn marks or even small holes. Not to mention the sparks shooting sideways inside the Tipi and landing on your bedding. Just use basic common sense.......no need for a “bonfire”! Keep the fire small and feed it often with small kindling-size wood, to keep smoke at a minimum. Also, the liner is essential for creating the proper air-flow to draft the smoke up and out the top.
~Can I pitch it on a wooden deck? I personally have no experience with this method, but over the years I've heard from a few folks who have tried it with varying degrees of satisfaction.
~Can I leave it up year-round? Yes, but this will reduce the life-expectancy. I always advise against it unless you are in a region with mild, dry winters. Even then, UV damage is an issue, so be sure to give it a thinned coat of exterior latex paint.