Beadwork by Dominique

Posted By Paul G May 21st, 2013 Last Updated on: May 21st, 2013

Dominique Tsinnie is a Native artist selling contemporary beadwork.  Photos of her work have spread quickly on social media sites.  PowWows.com is excited to feature his profile.

My name is Dominique Tsinnie, I am Tsedeeshghizhnii (Rock Gap Clan), and I am born for Naakai Dine’e (Mexican People Clan). My Maternal Grandfathers are Tabaaha (Waters Edge Clan) and my Paternal Grandfathers are Ta’neeszahnii (Tangled People Clan).  I am 22 years old, and I grew up in Sanders, which is just on the border of the Navajo Reservation, in Arizona. My parents both come from a place near Tuba City, Arizona, known as Howell Mesa, and because of the Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation Act, our families were relocated into the place where we now reside. I grew up in Sanders and went to school there from kindergarten all the way up to the 12th grade.

During the Summer of 2011, I was 19 at the time, I started beading as a way to keep myself busy since I was unable to find a job close to home, and I fell in love with it. My father used to bead before I started, and he was the one who showed me how to string the beads the best way he knew how by showing me some of his own tricks that he learned from trial and error, he basically taught me everything he knew.  I grew up watching him do bead work for his friends and some of our close relatives, but never really asked him to show me.  I always wondered how it would be to do that for other people, and I know that it made him happy to know that I started to have an interest in beading. Since we had a background in Native American Church, the peyote stitch, or gourd stitch was what he passed on to me.

beadworkbydominique6My first project was a small container, and I remember my father laying out his collection of beaded handles in front of me as a way to spark some patterns to implement into my work. He passed on his collection of charlotte cut beads, which were kept neatly in different containers, organized by their colors. I gladly accepted his collection, and as far as designs go, my main motivation was to bead designs that no one else beaded. I wanted to get away from the old school style of beading peyote stitch and I wanted to incorporate the bright colors that were being used in everyday pop culture.

I finished my first project and my dad told me to try another one. It wasn't until I came across my aunt who, at the time, was beading bracelets using the loom beading method and she basically, was the one who gave me my first set of blank brass cuffs. Like my dad, she saw that I had an interest in beading and told me to see what I could do with them. I had to improvise back then because my mother was a weaver, and my father had no knowledge of how to bead a bracelet. We had seen some others, but when I asked for their help, I had no reply whatsoever. I knew I had to wrap the brass with leather so that it would act as a cushion to keep the beads from breaking, but I didn't know if I had to form the brass into a bracelet, then bead around it, or if I had to leave the brass flat, bead it, then form it into a bracelet later. I started beading the brass, the way my dad showed me and everything went well, the hardest part, at that time, was finishing off the ends of the bracelets, so I never finished off the ends of my very first bracelet, which was beaded with different shades of blue and orange.

beadworkbydominique5My second bracelet was where I started to get creative. Again, I wanted to stray from copying other peoples designs, and I didn't want to draw my designs out before beading. I simply wanted it to flow naturally, as any artist would do, and so I started to call it freestyling. I wanted to use colors that no one else used, so I picked out shades of green, and shades of yellow. It was fun for me to see that my family was there for support and every time I finished stringing about an inch of beads around the bracelet, I would show them. I would get their opinions because sometimes when I was beading, I would judge my work in a way that seemed like I wasn’t really giving it my best effort. I paid careful attention to the amount of detail and I became very fond of blending the different colored beads in order to transition from one design to the other.

I finished my second beaded bracelet, and it was one that I was very proud of. The center of the bracelet was what really made it “one of a kind.” The design resembled a type of weave that you would see if you were to look at a braided rope. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to bead something different and my parents were starting to see that it was something I was beginning to become very good at. My dad would always look at my work, and had that look of amazement. My mother was the same as well, and I owe it all to them for their teachings. My mother, her mother, and her grandmother were weavers who wove many rugs in their time, and thats where I give credit to when it comes to people asking me how I come up with designs so easily.

I was always beading in the evenings, and during the day if there were no chores to be done. One thing that beading taught me, was that I had to be patient and persistent if I wanted to become better with each new project. Patience wasn’t as difficult for me, because my mind was busy the entire time, constantly thinking of ways to bead the next bracelet or which colors to use for the next design. The thing I had to get used to was sitting there every evening just to finish one bracelet because If anyone is familiar with size 13 Charlotte Cuts, then they know of the difficulty and the amount of time it takes to bead a single project.

beadworkbydominique7The summer was coming to an end, and I was finishing my third bracelet. I kept beading small bracelets throughout the year until I arrived back home the following year during the summer of 2012. Earlier in March I went to the Heard Indian Market and while I was there, I met a woman by the name of Summer Peters, also known as, Mama Longlegz. Her work was very fine, and it was very detailed. We had a conversation for a while at her booth, I showed her my work and she was intrigued, she later gave me her contact information, and requested that I friend her on Facebook.

I was very fortunate to have met someone who gave me their honest opinion about how much I should charge when selling my work, and she motivated me to keep on beading. She played a major role in my business because of her experience and it was great to have known someone like that for a person like me, who had no knowledge of what I was getting myself into. It was Mama Longlegz who gave my work the recognition it needed for me to begin beading orders for multiple people across the United States. Without the help of Mama LongLegz, I don't think I would have been added to the Beyond Buckskin Boutique, which is a Native owned online store that specializes in promoting Native Artists, and is the store that now sells some of my available work.

After being added to the Beyond Buckskin, I had the pleasure of beading bracelets for new customers. I beaded orders for a great number of people, and it was very fun to experiment with the different color combinations that the customers would come up with. One of the big changes I did with my work was I incorporated a lot of black beads. The black was used as a way to bring out the bright colors, and since knowing Mama Longlegz, I started to have a taste for doing work in grayscale. Like the black beads, I would use the grayscale colors to bring out the bright pinks, blues, and purples.

beadworkbydominique11It wasn't until that point, that I began to realize that I had a real passion for creating artwork that could be worn by other people, so I took it to the next level and created a beadwork page, Beadwork By Dominique Tsinnie. It was one of the toughest things that I had to go through because of the feedback I had from negative people, but I had a big support system from my customers and most importantly my friends. That was all the motivation I needed to realize that I could make a name for myself. Later, during the year of 2012 I received my first order that would be flown across the ocean into France, and for a person like myself, coming from the small town of Sanders, this was a really big deal. Shortly after, I would be making a large bracelet for another individual who was in the country of Turkey. It just became surreal to me, to know that someone else is wearing your artwork, on the other side of the world, in places that you never even knew existed, and I am very proud of that.

Today, I still give recognition to those individuals who gave me advice and helped me out along the way. I do my best to help out others in any way, shape, or form, and to this day, I continue to make each bracelet as unique as possible, with colors that are based upon the customers request. I really don’t know how long I will be beading bracelets for, but I have grown to accept that it is a growing passion that I shall continue to express my love for in more beading projects in the near future.

Learn more on his Facebook Page.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Beadwork by Dominique

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I want to buy one or two

christine whiteleather

where is the web site to be able to order a bracelet??


Absolutely beautiful. I hope I can get to your website successfully.

Mary White

Beautiful work! Would like cost+ shipping/handling. Please let me know. Thank u

stephane taurel

We simply love them , how could we get some ?

Venessa Parker

Beautiful work. I love the colors and design .

paulette allman

How much r the bracelets? They r so beautiful!

susan klukluk

how much????

Turesa Lewis

I am very interested in buying some of your beautiful bracelets. How Much are they including shipping to Iowa?

joann stone

Your art work is just beautiful!!

fred synder

we are a co-op of american indian artists from over 410 tribes since 1969. your knowledge of colors and design is just GREAT ! please look at our web http://www.usaindianinfo.com and contact us. would like to distribute your work and supply you with the finest quality beads. fred

Free Email Series: What to Expect at Your First Pow Wow