Mary Annette Pember: A tribute to mother's Ojibwe beadwork

"A few months ago, while looking for something else, I found my mother’s beadwork. They are just bits, really, of much longer strips of loom work that is typically made into belts or regalia.

They carry her signature design and like all good loom work they lie flat and strong when placed on a table. I’ve tried to do loom work myself but found it too slow and exacting. The warp (longitudinal part) is comprised of long pieces of thread kept in place on a loom. The weft is used to place beads into each tiny space between the treads on the warp.

I first saw Mom’s work by accident when I was less than five years old, stumbling over it as I rummaged through her dresser drawers. Oh, what mysteries those draws held for a little girl! The smell of French perfume in its tiny bottle and the slightly acrid smell that was her spoke of secrets yet to be revealed.

Her loom work, yards of it, lay in the bottom-most drawer, hidden and tightly coiled like beautiful, snakes: I felt as though I’d discovered a treasure. Intricate yet strong, the lengths were a tactile joy."

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: The Woman with the Beadwork Tattoo (The Daily Yonder 5/11)

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