Native American Seed Beading Earrings

Annlee Cakes Native American Clothing and Crafts shares about Native American Culture and Traditional Seed Beading Crafting.

When I first started beading earrings 20 years ago, my dear friend Alverda Ernzen, who was registered with the Ioway Tribe of North East Kansas. She was always open to learn as much as she could about the Native American Culture and to respect the Tribe and it’s traditions. So this is the first thing that I learned from her before I started beading. To understand and respect the Native American Traditions, one should always have an Elder friend as Teacher. Alverda was my guide and her spirit remains even though she has Walked across the Great Lake in 2008.
In respect I shall try sharing upon beading as I learned:
First in beading an Earring set you should have an idea what you want the earrings to look like. I suggest looking on the Internet and find a pattern you like, and start with that one.
The thread you should use is a high quality beading thread. I buy it from the other vender’s at a Pow Wow, or I can buy high quality thread online . The thread for example from Walmart I have found it poor in quality and breaks easily. This is something you do not want. Furthermore, the beads found at most chain stores are often not even in size, shape and hard to work with.
When choosing your beads for the first set, I would suggest a #10 seed bead. It is larger so you can see what you are doing when beading an earring. It is not easy the first time. Choose your beads as uniformly as possible so that the pattern is smooth. And, use as few colors as possible for your first creation. After you have created a few with #10 then it is time to start with the more standard #11 which most patterns are adapted to.
Buy a couple of packages of mixed needles which are normally around one dollar a pack. Look at the package and make sure it contains at least: # 10, #12, #13.
Alverda always suggested practice, practice, practice!
While I will not go into direct beading, the above are the basic first steps.
Online are many step by step with pictures to follow in seed bead crafts.
Please note:
Here is the biggest secret I can share about Native American Seed Beading!
Visit the Pow Wows and ask an Elder you may see beading or has many beaded items in their Regalia.
And I am sure you will find they will be glad to assist you.
And, talk to vendors displaying beaded items. If they are really Native American Crafter’s, our culture is based on sharing when asked. If they do not share, they are probably Wannabees. And are not Native Americans.
Over the years, I watched as Alverda would stop what ever she was doing and share, and teach when asked about any craft in her Native American booth. I have also done this for many years and the reward and blessings are endless. Moreover sharing is Our Tradition and the foundation of Our Culture.
Seed Bead History:

Seed bead crafts date as far back as 4000 years ago and come from many cultures all around the world. Nevertheless, Native Americans are the most known seed bead crafters because of their use to create ornate costumes and mocasins. Even though seed bead crafts have been found in the Pharoh’s tombs in Egypt.

Venice, Italy, is believed to be the  birthplace of the modern beading era which started around 1480 as many people invented ways to mass produce seed beads in glass. Seed beads became the traders exchange money as they were useful, light weight and highly in demand by the North American Indian population which incorporated them into their dailt wear. Trade beads from this era now are very costly and collectable. Price range from $2.00 as high as $ 789 per bead. Vintage seed beads are pricey as well.

Many stitching ways were discovered? Like the  peyote stitch, brick stitch and square stitch which are common in beading crafted items. The peyote stitch has a few types such as the 2-drop, 3-drop and 4 drop patterns which many Native American Crfaters have become the masters of adding peyote stitch beading to Regalia nd Dance Circle items such as leggins, hair pieces, belts, moccosins, cuffs and to create adornment loaded Dancing Regalia that we all can enjoy at the Pow Wow Ceromonies.

Seed beads can also be embroidered onto almost any fabric. Many craft items are beaded on a loom and then hand sewn to leathers to create the adornments we see at the pow wows. Or are stand alone seed beaded items like earrings and necklaces that are done with modern strong treads developed for heavy use and less breakage of the stringing materials.

Seed beading is a simple craft which can be shared with the young ones and is light, portable and easy to take from place to place. I sit and bead constantly during the pow wows and enjoy creating and sharing with all who ask. Clearly, the versatility of using and crafting with seed beads is endless ideas and possibilities. Many projects are simple enough that minimal skill and trial and error correct as they learn the art of seed crafting. As one learns the tricks of seed beading they can tackle a deeply patterned earring or necklace set. Beading takes practice and more practice to become proficient at the art of seed bead crafting.

To get started all you need is the thread, needles and a few beads and of course some patterns to follow. The patterns are all over the internet and use the FREE ONES. Once you learn the basics you will quickly discover you can see a finished project and duplicate it with out allot of problems. I do no think any new patterns exist? I say this because I believe every thing has been done that can be done and in truth we all are beading patterns from long ago patterns. But, color combinations are personal and using a different set of colors upon established patterns does create the unusual one-of-a-kind that is exciting and rewarding.

Please remember? If your at a pow wow and you do see a seed beaded item you would like to try beading ask for permission first as many are family treasures handed down generation upon generation. You will discover the Native American wearing the items usually is open and honored that you would like to re-create the finished product. Mass production to-day has filled the world with seed beaded items that appear as those we create for Regalia. The difference is easy if you examine the quality of the stitching and of course ask the one selling the item if they can craft the identicale items pattern with YOUR CHOICE OF COLORS?  This simple test is needed even at booths within the pow wows as many booths carry the mass produced seed beading items but do not do the actual seed beaded crafting them self.

At every pow wow in my booths we always keep many projects being worked upon on display for people to see we are Real Genuine Seed Bead Crafters and can make their choice of colored beads into every pattern we display in a finished product. You have found a real crafter today!

You are invited to take a peek! 
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