Textile Totems

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If you love fabric and textiles like I do, you’ll understand the urge to have it on display.


I recently made these textile totem poles which are bamboo poles wrapped in fabric then tied with cords, trims and ripped strips of fabric. They can be displayed in a tepee formation or put into a heavy concrete pot for display at home.


As a side benefit, making them gave my oldest son some enjoyable ammunition to tease me. “So Mummy, are you making a little raft to escape the island?… or do you think you might have been watching too many survivor shows?”


Here are my general instructions if you want to create some textile totem poles.


  1. Source clean dry bamboo poles from a landscape supplier or nursery. The ones I used are 2.4m long and 8cm diameter approximately.
  2. Set up two step ladders or sawhorses to lay your poles between so they are horizontal and a comfortable height to work on. Place plastic underneath to protect your floor. Non-stick baking paper is useful to place on the step ladder to prevent the glue from sticking to the ladder.
  3. Cut or tear pieces of cotton or linen fabric into pieces large enough to wrap around your pole and should vary in size.
  4. Using a large brush, paint the poles with PVA glue, working in sections at a time. Paint an area then wrap the fabric around the pole, smooth it in place and then move onto the next section so the glue doesn’t dry before you get to it.
  5. Add lengths of twine, cord or torn fabric strips, wound around and knotted in place. Work to your own particular colour theme.


 Of course you don’t need to use as many as I have in your display. Try a few different arrangements to see what works best in your room.


By Judy Newman

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