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Beadwork of interplanetary proportions
Margaret Nazon creates Hubble Space Telescope images with her hands, beads and thread

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Monday, July 6, 2015

Margaret Nazon is bringing the night sky to life, one bead at a time.

NNSL photo/graphic

Margaret Nazon works on fish scale art in Inuvik in 2008. - photo courtesy of Margaret Nazon

The well-known Tsiigehtchic artist said it was her partner who first inspired her to create beadwork based on images from the Hubble Space telescope.

"He was on the computer and I was upstairs working. He said, 'Hey Margaret, you better come and look at this. It looks like beadwork,'" she said.

"I knew exactly what I was going to do."

Since then, Nazon has captured everything from spiral galaxies to supernovae using beads and canvas-backed black velvet.

Creating the images has become a favourite project.

"It just gives me that freedom just to go crazy," she said.

"With regular beading, with moccasins, your beads all have to be the same size. But with my Hubble work, I can use any size bead I want and mix the colours up and do 3D effects."

Nazon has loved art since she was a small child growing up near Tsiigehtchic.

"I think I've always been an artist since I was little, drawing and sketching," she said.

Her mother taught her to sew, a skill she expanded to embroidery, crocheting and knitting while attending residential school.

Since then, Nazon has become a skilled seamstress, making moccasins, clothing and quilts. She also does fabric art, sewing coloured thread or yarn to create pictures.

This year, Nazon is helping to lead a moosehide-tanning workshop, the first of its kind in the community.

Last month, a group of women gathered in a canvas tent behind

her home to learn the steps involved in tanning a moosehide, Nazon said.

After a repetitive process of scraping and soaking the hides in brine, it's smoked for several days before being ready to use.

Local hunters donated the two hides, which will be divided among participants to make moccasins and other items.

Nazon said teaching women how to tan their own moose hide provides them with a valuable skill. She said she knows all too well how expensive it can be to order hides.

"To purchase already tanned hides at any commercial outlet, it's very expensive," she said. "I just paid for a large one $2,700."

Knowing how to do it themselves can make all the difference, Nazon said.

"This way it provides the women with knowledge if they wanted to tan their own hides," she said.

"They'll have their own leather to work with instead of having to purchase it."

While she said she enjoys all of the artwork she creates, she especially loves how liberating beading Hubble Space Telescope images can be.

"That's what I love about it, it's not boring," she said.

"I just let my fingers do the walking."

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