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Seed Bead History

Seed Bead History


Native American Indian Crafts

Use of beads, furs and leathers Native Americans have been crafting for centuries and beyond. Basically all their clothes were also crafted from hides. For summer wear most hides were scrapped clean of fur, and for winter they kept the fur on but reversed the wearing so the fur was against the body to keep heat in.
Crafting was natural to the Native Indians. Women crafted designs and made utensils from the horns and bones of animals the Warriors brought to the meals. Warriors crafted with leather, sinew and feathers and even with stones or hair braided into useful things. All decorations were a craft.

When new items became available the Natives crafted with them. Examples are: Metals, beads of wood, beads of horns, glass beads brought by traders.

Today, we all can see the wonders of Native American Indian Crafts by attending the fantastic Pow Wows held all over the United States. Seeing the time people have spent to create their Dancing Regalia is marvelous when you come to understand it was not done overnight. Some have spent years to create their Circle Items.

Moreover, at the Pow Wow you will see many vendors displaying crafted items for sale. I do not know of even one Powwow without vendors showing off their wares like the traders of old. But, with tents and displays!

The list of crafted items is endless: From bows and arrows to eating utensils. Encompassing decorating one's horse to decorating one's Teepee. Making knives, clubs and even flutes or pipes is all Native American Indian Crafts. Many women crafted foot wear and clothes. Pots made from clay have been discovered for centuries.
Today, crafted items include earrings, jewelry, rattles, Head Wear, Colorful and gorgeous Dance Regalia and even fancy dance shawls. Like I said the list is truly endless.

The most beautiful hand crafted items came after the introduction of beads, and especially colored beads. However, long before glass beads appeared?

Originally, Native American Indians crafted beads that were carved from natural materials like shells, coral, turquoise and stones or the metals like copper, silver, wood, amber, ivory, quills, stones and animal bones, horns, and some were discovered made from teeth. Glass beads were not used until the fur traders brought to the Natives in trade for furs. Glass beads quickly became part of American Indian Crafts culture. Today glass beads, particularly fine seed beads, are the primary materials for traditional bead artists of many tribes and adorn the finest of Regalia you may view in the Circle.
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 moccasins. 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 collectible. Prices 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 threads 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 Artists and we can make their choice of colored beads into every pattern we display in a finished product.
You have found a real bead artist today!
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