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Native American beaded amulet


#1

I have been bead weaving for several years. I am looking for a workshop that teaches not only the beading of an amulet but the history/stories behind Native American amulets. Does anyone know where I might look to find such a workshop? In addition, has anyone used a book on Native American beading that included patterns of an amulet and the history behind them?

Many thanks.


#2

Kathy,
I am not aware of a workshop, but have a suggestion that might direct you in the preceding developmental craft that expressed the mythologies and stories of native American / first nations prior to introduction of woven bead craft. Basically, basketry (and low fire ceramics) preceeded beadwork. Beads were introduced as trade goods for hides, pelts and other goods over several centuries, diversifying the embellishment of the woven basket form into bejeweled glass and stones versus dyed organic plant materials. Baskets have housed and expressed aboriginal and tribal story telling for over 10 centuries on virtually every continent.
I studied as my mom used to sarcastically joke, “basket weaving” in college (VFA textile/surface design). As a result, I am an image and pattern junkie of sorts in my jewelry. It’s easy to understand your desire to learn more of the story behind the designs.
There is a book,ABORIGINAL AMERICAN BASKETRYpublished by Peregrine Smith - a 1976 reprint of a 1904 Smithsonian Institution study (govt printing office annual report board of regents of the Smithsonian) by Otis Tufton Mason (1838-1908). ISBN 0-78905-034-9
The book could direct your imagination into the story telling you wish to express. It is a FABULOUS resource covering both American continents, with technical, organic (plant), design, myths & stories along with copious illustrations. If you look around, you might be able to find a used copy online (allibris?)
Eileen


#3

@kathyhoffer sounds and looks like you COULD become a resident expert in this field and possibly offer to teach us. Although not a bead person in any sense I would love to take instruction in the art of artist story telling. And, I’m sure the awareness would transfer to my precious metal endeavors. I see opportunity on your porch and hear it knocking at your door.
Regards RLW


#4

OK, to actually give you an answer, I need to ask a few questions of my own. (1) You’re talking about an “amulet”. Are you talking about a medicine bag, a beaded necklace containing a beaded medallion, or a whimsy-type beaded and stuffed item that isn’t worn? (2) What tribe? I actually think the second question is the most important since you’re bundling “Native American” into a large basket when each tribe was a completely separate culture with different beliefs, governmental structures, and beadwork colors and patterns. If you think of Europe in the Middle Ages with the 100 kingdoms of Germany added to those of France, Brittany, Spain, Portugal, etc., you might have a better idea of the geography of politics existing within the Native American communities.

As a beader of 50 years and a retailer of beads and supplies for the Native American population in my larger area, I possibly can help you, but information will allow a more tailored and accurate response on my part.


#5

Many thanks for your response.

I am interested in making small medicine bags worn as both decorative and spiritual. I have made a few amulets, trying to figure out how they go together. But I feel as though a large part is missing- meaning the soul behind these little bags.

A friend of mine tours throughout the southwest and MT and WY, buying beaded jewelry. I know some of her purchases are Zuni pieces but she also collects beaded necklaces and earrings that


#6

Many thanks for your response.

I am interested in making small medicine bags worn as both decorative and spiritual. I have made a few amulets, trying to figure out how they go together. But I feel as though a large part is missing- meaning the soul behind these little bags.

A friend of mine tours throughout the southwest and MT and WY, buying beaded jewelry. I know some of her purchases are Zuni pieces but she also collects beaded necklaces and earrings that look very primitive. I have repaired several necklaces that my friend brought back from Montana - small beaded amulet bags. I was so honored to work on these pieces and was inspired try making them myself.

So, I don’t really have a specific tribe in mind but am open to your suggestions.

Thank you.


#7

Thanks! I am pretty far from that right now but you never know.


#8

Thank you for your suggestion on the book. I will check it out.
Kathy