Friday, July 27, 2012

Freedom Fridays: Peyote with Spirit Bead

Recently I received a large hat-full of beach glass from my sister-in-law who had been visiting the Maine Coast. She pulled out a small aqua piece of glass and asked if I could make something with it? Hmm, it is pretty small. So this might take some creativity to figure out how to include this.

At the time I had been working on a beaded bracelet and she commented on how much she liked the blue colors of the beads. So I thought I'd try to combine the two. Originally I tried a beaded bezel around the piece of glass, but it is simply too small and left very little of the glass to see once complete. Ok, so scratch that. I also considered gluing a silver piece with a loop on the glass that I had used recently on beach glass pendants. The only problem was that the leaf design on the piece would have covered the entire surface of the glass. So I created my own hammered silver to wrap around the glass and glue into place. I decided to use it as a charm hanging off a custom hammered silver toggle. I wanted to create a special piece for her to remember her trip back East this summer that she could wear and remind her of her time both at the Maine shore and her time with us up in the Adirondacks.

The other design element I used was the Native American tradition of peyote and a spirit bead. I've been enjoying reading a book I recently picked up by David Dean called Beading in the Native American Tradition. It is a fabulous book that takes you through all of the various bead stitches used by the American Indian tribes like: gourd stitch (peyote), the Comanche stitch (brick), lane stitch (from the Cheyenne, Crow and Sioux) and loop stitch (Cheyenne), running stitch (Crow). Just to name a few.

Specifically he talks about Peyote and the origin of the stitch. The stitch is also called the Church design. Native American's used beaded feathers (gourd stitch that wrapped around the handles) as part of the peyote ceremony that involved prayer and the peyote cactus as sacrament. The bead stitch associated with their 'church' rituals was said to be done in the 'peyote' style. 

The other tradition used by Native American beaders was to include a 'spirit bead.'  This tradition dates as far back as 800 A.D. and served as talismans against threat.  The spirit bead is one that stands apart from the rest of the pattern; sometimes a bead of a different color. Native Americans believed that each piece should contain an intentional mistake (or spirit bead) somewhere within the pattern because humans cannot achieve perfection. If we attempt perfection it could be bad luck. And the spirit world would not enter into anything that was flawless. So a spirit bead was sewn in among the others to provide a flaw where the spirit could enter and flow through the beadwork. A spirit bead is a reminder anything created by human hands cannot be perfect. These Native American beaders would intentionally include a wrong colored bead as a way to honor the Great Spirit and express humility. 


Plami said...

this is beautiful! You create such amazing pieces! <3


Miss Val's Creations said...

Absolutely gorgeous! The clasp you created is so cool with the beadwork. What a perfect way to incorporate the sea glass. Your sister in law will love wearing this piece! It is interesting reading about the history of the stitch. I love the concept of the spirit bead!

Christine Altmiller said...

this is so beautiful and looks so comfortable...soothing colors and a nice hug around the wrist. i love the clasp!!! and the spirit bead and glass are such a great personalized touch. this is sure to be a favorite for your sister-in-law :-)

LaJune16 said...

Amaazing blog and I really love it.
Very nice photos :))

~~follow each other?

Therese's Treasures said...

Hi Cynthia,
Beautiful blue bracelet, I love the little spirit bead and the beach glass charm. I knew about the Amish and how then never make anything perfect, but was not aware of the spirit bead and the American Indian belief of not making anything perfect. This is good information, because I tend to always have some sort of small mistake in what I make now I do not feel so bad about the mistakes.

AntiquityTravelers said...

Ha! exactly Therese. My daughter picked up my bracelet and looked very woeful "um, Mom ... did you see this?" pointing at the spirit bead. She thought maybe I could pull out the rows and fix the mistake. I laughed and told her it was there on purpose. But it is a great excuse for all those other wayward beads that make it into my pieces!!

Marcela Gmd said...

LOVELY!!!!!!!! great post!
Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend!

Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

LisaS said...

Wonderful work. -I love your information about the spirit bead!

BeadedTail said...

The way you incorporated the glass bead is beautiful! I didn't know that about the spirit bead but it's very interesting! I have a perfectionism gene that I try hard to get rid of so I'm going to remember this from now on. :)

alankarshilpa said...

I am becoming a fan of your blog. Yesterday your post on Mekkala made me think. I knew that the meaning of the word is band on the waist, a special piece of ornament, in ancient Indian languages.Sanskrit, Pali or Maithili, probably. Your blog made me look up more and took me to the allegorical meaning of the word- how she ( as the ornament of the ocean- the Indian ocean, is also the goddess of lighting..etc etc.

Today you enthused me in learning about the Native American jewelry art. You have done a beautiful job with the peyote stitch. Some day I want to learn it. Thank you for coming to my blog. Dita.

linlicious-style said...

great post!

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Alicia said...

Oh, wow - thanks for the wonderful story behind the bracelet (which is gorgeous!)... I didn't realized the seed-beading stitches are Native-originated (in my defence I don't do seed-beading, I am in awe with the artists who do :)). Hmm - need to get that book now.

Thank you for sharing!

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