Beaded Métis floral pin. Glass Seed beads on Wool Melton backed with White felt backing
Designed and beaded in the SS River Designs sewing studio by Christine in St Louis, Saskatchewan, Canada
ONE ONLY - ORIGINAL PIECE
THE LONG WAY HOME
For this collection THE LONG WAY HOME “I thought about the Grandmothers, the historical indigenous Métis beadwork pieces, that are being brought home, on the journey back to Turle Island, back to the Métis Homeland where I live. The long way home has been emotional, there’s tears of sadness, tears of joy. Somehow Métis people always rest on joy and laughter. “I thought about how Grandmothers, both the women and the beadwork.. maybe should be on tour; they are really like rockstars!!! lol. Well really, they are kind of living the rockstar life already, living life to the fullest. That’s been their teaching, through all the joy, pain, tragedy, and triumphs of life...they always come out strong. For me, I feel like they paved the way for women to stand up and say, “hell yes, I’ll do that. The grandmothers should be celebrated… they are the stars in our lives! So I took the colours and lines from historical beadwork and incorporated a rock glam vibe, using elements like gold chains, biker jacket details to design a modern feeling collection. I respectfully present a fun and celebratory collection.”.
I am a bead work artisan, I have been beading and sewing since I was very young. I am drawn to beadwork and compelled to keep this tradition alive.
Through my beadwork, I explore the traditional scrolling floral beadwork traditional to michif people of my community. Inspired by historical beadwork pieces of the Red River Métis people, I am inspired by the historical beadwork which was typically designed with reflection symmetry, where everything is mirrored around a central vertical or horizontal axis. I looked at how this compares to balance in nature, flowers that are incorporated in beadwork designs which are ‘imperfectly” balanced. Everything stills works together just as well as a mirror image, so that elements work and fit together in a seamless whole.
I reside alongside the South Saskatchewan River, which has consistently been my inspiration. My pieces do not pay homage to a specific flower, but more so to the people that created these beautiful historical beadwork patterns using stylized florals and greenery and most often done on black or very dark cloth, completed the original works on black velvet or black melton cloth.
I am constantly experimenting with new ideas in order to create unique one-of-a kind pieces that are hand beaded using seed beads. I have both these 'one of a kind' art pieces and also an art to wear line where I 'modernized’ my pieces by having my beadwork digitally printed onto fabric, sewn into contemporary, wearable pieces.
Beadwork is medicine, the process of working with beads and thread is meditative, it cannot be rushed, done independently it allows time for reflection, or if you are beading in beading circles with others it opens space for visiting, talking, sharing and storytelling. Every bead is so small, stringing beads on thread you touch every single bead, placing and holding each and every bead with your thumb, then tenderly encouraging the beads to lay flat by running your fingers over the strings of beads, you are connected to the beadwork. It is my calling, I cannot step away from it, the ancestral grandmothers always bring me back to it.