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NNSL Photo/Graphic

Members of the Sewing Circle practise their work. Clockwise from the bottom left they are: Michelle Lucas, Debra Nowdlak, Rita Chretien, Charissa Alain, Ronda Landry, Nicole Sutherland, Emily Atigikyoak, Lucy Emmott, Karen Wright-Fraser and Delilah Doak. - Daniel T'seleie/NNSL photo

Group teaches traditional beading

Daniel T'seleie
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 16/04) - Beading is a complicated process, but a meeting with the Sacred Circle's Sewing Circle offers insight into this art.

"There's all kinds of different beadings," said Karen Wright-Fraser, a traditional crafting expert who instructs the circle's eager learners.

The specific technique used by the circle requires the beader to create a freestanding design with a needle, thread and beads. Once complete, the design is sewn to the fabric.

They even use a diagram which tells them how many beads of each colour to put on their thread. But things were not always this way.

"Years back before the Europeans came we worked with quills and we did geometric designs," Wright-Fraser said.

Porcupine quills and animal fur was used to create designs in those days.

Missionaries brought beading to the North. With the new materials and techniques, came the now-common floral patterns says Wright-Fraser.

"It was so easy to do beading, the quill work almost went out the back door," Wright-Fraser said. This art was not lost though, and it is among the techniques the sewing circle plans to practise in future meetings.

The regular meetings teach them a skill and also serve to, "bring the ladies together," in the words of Lucy Emmott, a link in the circle.

Like most participants, she is not yet an accomplished sewer. She just took it up as a hobby, "to make nice gifts for people."

The circle is sponsored by Nats'eju Dahk'e and the City of Yellowknife's Special Grants Program.