Meet Native American Bead Weaver Jackie Larson Bread
Jackie Larson Bread is a Native American beadworker who has been beading her entire life. She is a member of the Blackfeet tribe in Montana and concentrates her work on traditional bead weaving techniques and projects. Jackie’s beadwork has received more than 100 awards, including Best of Classification at the prestigious Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2015; Best of Show at the Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2015; and Best of Show at the Indian Market in Santa Fe in 2013.
Q: How did you get started beading?
A: My grandmother passed away before I was born, and my family owned a lot of her beadwork. I loved the pieces and was so intrigued by them that I really wanted to learn the art. I began teaching myself how to bead at a very young age, with help from my dad, who remembered some of the techniques from his own childhood.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: The key to my inspiration has been a really culturally rich environment. I’ve done art all my life, including beading, painting, and printmaking. My paintings are highly rendered portraits, and my printmaking consists of detailed etchings — so creating photorealistic portraits from beads was a natural progression.
Q: Do you plan your designs in advance?
A: I have a general idea of what I want to happen with each piece, but creativity always takes over!
Q: How do you get out of a creative rut?
A: Thankfully, I don’t get beader’s block. There aren’t enough hours in the day to create everything I’d like to make!
Q: How do you approach the use of color in your designs?
A: For many years I beaded with the colors that were culturally familiar: old-style colors. However, the palette of available colors is so much more extensive! I gradually began incorporating more diverse colors into my work, and I continue working daily to stretch my creativity.
Q: Do you consider your beadwork to be a craft or a form of art?
A: It’s definitely an art. I use all the same skills I would use if I were painting, because I’m painting in beads. When I compose a piece, I’m drawing, utilizing positive and negative space, dealing with highlights and shadows, and overall creating a composition that’s visually appealing.
Q: How does your heritage factor into your beadwork?
A: Everything I create is influenced by where I grew up, who I am, and who my family is. I like to tell my story of who Blackfeet people were and still are.
Q: What kind of connection do you see between traditional Native American bead weaving and modern beadwork?
A: The connection is very apparent to me. My beadwork tells the viewer something important about Blackfeet people and life. I use traditional techniques, but I employ them in a contemporary and evolving way.
Some of Jackie’s beadwork is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.
For more Native American-inspired beading, check out these products in the Interweave Store!