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About the Art

Beaded Buffalo

About the Art

Each bag is handmade from commercially-processed elk, deer and buffalo. The bison leather comes from farm-raised animals, so no wild buffalo are involved. While I do occasionally use smooth bison leather, most people seem partial to bags with the soft, dark-brown, furry backs.

If I employ a decorative piece that I did not craft — say, a native-made rosette or quill-wrapped medicine wheel — I’ll clearly say so in the bag description.

Beading style: When most bead workers undertake a large (say, square foot) project, they typically use the lazy stitch method. It’s a native technique wherein four to five beads at a time are sewn to leather in rows, creating a visual effect akin to a just-plowed field. My bead panels are created on a loom, so the finished piece has a smooth, flat surface that some find more pleasing to the eye — almost like a painting. The panels are both glued and stitched to the leather, so they won’t sag or pull loose.

The bead designs are inspired by dreams, visions, trips to museums and wilderness areas, and the occasional rug. I don’t copy anyone’s work, but if I see a pleasing pattern, I’ll modify the concept to make it my own. My color choices don’t adhere to traditional native ways; most are too bold.

Uses: They can serve as medicine bags that hold personal totems, or sit in the dirt outside a sweat lodge, or beside you on a vision quest. Use one to house your journal of personal thoughts, or a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Hang one as wall art in a contemplative spot in your home, or carry one of my bags to the rodeo or opera. But please do not use it as an everyday carry-all. The beadwork simply won’t stand up to the kind of abuse the typical woman’s purse endures.

Now this doesn’t mean my bags are flimsy . There’s nothing delicate about a buffalo and my bags are just as tough. But if you repeatedly bury one under a pile of groceries in a shopping cart, the beadwork will show the effects.

With proper love and care, it’ll become an heirloom passed down to those you love.