April 5th, 2015 Last Updated on: April 5th, 2015
“Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins,” a popular powwow proverb states. Jerrilyn King-Russell, a talented Mohawk artisan, is stitching a delightful pair of lovely moccasins for an international order. In between stitches, she shares her insights about beading and Native art in this thoughtful visit.
Interview by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
Q: Thanks for taking time to talk with us! Will you please introduce yourself to us?
A: My name is Jerrilyn King-Russell. I am 22 years old. I am from the Mohawk Nation from the Six Nations of the Grand River, Ohsweken, Ontario.
Q: How did you start beading? Any special memories you care to share?
A: My favorite beading memories are that of when I was 6 years old, watching my mom, gram and family relatives bead, and also being able to bead with them. Those were and still are the best memories and teachers that have taught me to bead.
Q: As you bead, how do you design your creations?
A: I am still learning the different styles of stitches. How I see the image in my head and how I get a feeling for what the image is showing me in my head is where I get the design. I also get the feelings of what I see, when I start to finish what I bead.
Q: What do you like best about making moccasins and doing beadwork?
A: I like how when I start a piece of beadwork, it matches to oneself with culture and the traditions of the use of the materials. Not just we have now, but it also resembles what our ancestors used when it came to making moccasins from the warriors' hunt for game. The aboriginal women would cut the meat from the animal and use the animal's hide for moccasins, medicine pouches/bags, drums, hair ties and many other things. To this day, we still use the teachings that were taught to us. Every time we learn something new, we pass it on to our next generation to learn.
Q: Speaking of the next generation, what is some advice you can pass on to encourage aspiring beaders?
A: I think the most important quality a beader needs is just to go with the flow of their design and style that we each think of, since all of our designs and styles are different. It's what makes our creative creations that more unique to the beaders, but also one-of-a-kind to the ones who buy our work.
Q:We're enjoying viewing your talent and your work! Where can we check out more?
A: Well, I have a few Facebook pages, called Jerrbears Creative Creations and Jerrbears Creative Creations Gift and I'll soon be having a website up and running.
Q: Your patience and persistence sure is paying off! Thanks for sharing with us!
A: Thank you!
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