Fearless, and determined, I began clumsily stringing beads and attempting to weave them together. The beads kept breaking. The inflexible needle would not bend the way I needed it to. The thread would stretch, or snap. Finally, after hours of struggle, the piece that I willfully created barely held together. I realized I needed to learn more.
Not long after this, I began traveling across the country. I packed up my needles and thread, a desire to learn beadwork, and a soul hungry for adventure. I still remember the warm Colorado day, and the patient young woman who gave me a flexible beading needle, and showed me how to wax the beading thread. She taught me the pattern in the picture above, and I was hooked. From there, others taught me peyote stitch, and with the information I gathered I began stringing my own creations riffing off of basic patterns. Once I began flowing with the magic of creating beadwork, I learned there was more to learn. Beadwork had much to teach me: patience, introspection, when to rest, how to dream, and when to let go.
The rhythm of beadwork lends itself to introspection. More times than I can count, I recall beading and dreaming, or working other thoughts out in my head. I would find myself wondering, contemplating, journeying to different worlds. Then a bead would break, or my thread would get tangled, and I would find myself frustrated, and that is when I learned that there was a time to rest. A time to close the tin and take a walk, or sing a song. And after a project was created, it would be time to give it away, or sell it. Keeping this idea of making the piece for another always in my mind, I would weave my work with intention and prayers for the receiver... whoever that turned out to be. In some way, it made it easier to release.
When my first daughter was born, I made her a beautiful medicine shield with a peyote stitch necklace. Last year, I gave it to her so she could wear it. Ever since she was born, I dreamed of the day when she would be eager enough to want to learn. For years, I have patiently waited, and dreamed of my daughters coming to me, and asking me to learn beadwork.
Last week, the day finally came! It was later in the evening, before bed, and I found myself on my bed with my 18 year old, and my, soon to be 12 year old, teaching them beadwork. They both chose beautiful colors, and as I saw them bent over their tin of beads, carefully selecting each colorful glass bead, I had the realization...The day has finally come!
More than anything beadwork has taught me patience. After all, the piece is created bead by bead. One bead, after another bead, woven together and through each other, building a work of art. And that is how life works, how motherhood works. Each day is a new day. A new color you are stringing along onto a collection of other days. Some days are vibrant, others are pale. Each contrast creates a sharper image. And finally, you realize after stringing the days together patiently, lovingly, that a piece of work is completed. Not all of the work you will ever do because there is always more to work on...always more to create.
Bead by bead, day by day, I built a relationship with my girls. I built the opportunity for them to come to me, to learn from me, to share with me. They have watched me create. They have worked with me, and I with them, on various projects. Over time, our collective experiences brought us to the moment I have waited for for many years. Thank you Sienna and Sharlotte. Thank you for letting me be your mother, your teacher, your guide, and your friend. I love you so much, and am incredibly honored to be your mother, and to pass along my love of beadwork. I hope it teaches you, as much as it has taught me.