Monday, December 28, 2015

New work - "In the works"

It has been a very busy year for me,  although not all of it has been about making new beadwork.   I wrote a book,  I did some lectures,  I curated a museum exhibit,  and I restored several different art museums holdings,  including some very important Tlingit material that will be going on exhibit starting 2017.  Had some great interest in my art glass as well.  But  finally,  I am back to work doing beadwork again.  

 I just finished this pistol holder today for a friend.   Glad that is off my "To Do" list,  and I can get down to what will take up my next 5 or 6 months ahead.  

I have been commissioned by a major museum to make a entire set of Plateau style horse gear for permanent display.   I am honored and excited to have this opportunity.  Especially since the narrative will be my own.   And what I am focusing on is the stories about the peoples along the Columbia River where I was born and raised.   A unique place where horse culture meets maritime culture and the riches of the Pacific ocean.    

The first piece I am making is a horse collar.  The narrative actually has to do with the importance of salmon and sturgeon to the peoples of the river.   This piece tells the story of the Dalles Damn,  once it was built,  buried one of the biggest and most important fisheries in the world…Celilo Falls.   A gathering place from time immortal for the tribes to fish,  trade goods and exchange culture.    Once I get this collar finished,  I will post more about the narrative of what I want it to say.   

This was a paper mock up of the collar I did,  and of course the ever patient and willing Cappy the Appy modeling it for me.   He will be busy this spring earning his keep in photos.   

Lots more to come.  


Sunday, November 8, 2015

MAKING BEAUTY - Clark County Historical Museum Exhibit.

The 'Making Beauty" exhibit is now up and running until 2017 at the Clark County Historical Museum  in Vancouver, Washington.  It was a real honor to co- curate this exhibit with Steve Grafe Phd,  who is also curator at the Maryhill Museum of art.   This was a entirely new manifestation for me working in this capacity, and I could not have done it without Steve's expert help.  

The photos are some panoramas of the exhibit ( Kindly provided by Steve Grafe ).   Some never before seen and displayed historical work,  as well as contemporary beadwork from such notable artists as Jackie Larson Bread ( Blackfeet ),  Charlene Holy Bear ( Lakota ),  Robert Taylor ( Nez Perce' ),  Molly Murphy Adams ( Lakota ),  Miles Miller ( Yakima ),  and yours truly.  

My "War on Terrorism" war trophy necklace ( Hot offhand sculpted glass fingers,  antique seed beads, hide,  arrow heads ) which addresses the subject of "who are the terrorists",  especially a century after the conflicts are over.   120 years ago,  Natives here were subject to the War on Terrorism.  Time has changed some of those perceptions of historical events.

And of course,  my "Gucci" moccasins.   Made from Gucci leather and 24K. gold beads and cones.  

Please come by to see the exhibit if you are in the area.  


Thursday, October 15, 2015

MAKING BEAUTY - Native Beadwork of Native North America

Its been a very busy year for me with restoring several museum collections,  working on a few books,   and many of those activities have taken me away from actually doing what I love,  which is making art.   Finally that is changing and I will be active again with new artworks, including a major commission which I will start posting the progress of soon.

One of the many activities I have been involved in is curating a museum show which will be opening November 5th,  at the Clark County Historical Museum, Vancouver, Washtington.    I am very honored to co-curate this show with Steve Grafe Phd,  who is the curator of Maryhill Museum of Art and a noted scholar on Plateau Indian Beadwork.   The show will feature never before displayed beadwork from the Clark County Historical Museum Collection,  as well as some generous loans of beadwork from some very prestigious private collections.   The show will be up until 2017.   Here is the link to the exhibit  A publication for the show is also in the works.

We also will feature contemporary beadwork as well,  because we feel that Native art is a continuing narrative.   Notables like Rhonda Holy Bear,  Charlene Holy Bear,  Jackie Larson Bread,  Molly Adams,  Miles Miller and humbly,  myself,  will have our work on display.   And there will be planned activities thru out the two year run featuring the local Native community.

One of the pieces I made which will be in the show is my spin on the current trend of beadwork artists beading high end designer shoes.   I instead made very traditionally constructed moccasins,  using designer materials.   I call them "If Gucci was a straight dancer from Oklahoma".    Who knows….maybe he would have made something like this.

"If Gucci was a straight dancer from Oklahoma" - Imported Italian calf skin,  24k gold beads,  gold plated cones,  hand tanned rawhide soles.

Please come by to view the exhibit if you find yourself in in the area.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

A BEADING HEART - The Bob and Lora Sandroni Collection

I wanted to announce the release of "A Beading Heart" - The Bob and Lora Sandroni Collection of Historic Native Beadwork.  I was asked by High Noon Western Americana to contribute, and I wrote the  chapter on Bead and Quill work as well as contributed in other areas of this book.  

 It is a large format book,  with 227 pages packed with hundreds of photos of historic Northern Plains and Plateau beadwork.  Much of it never before published.   Those who buy books for the photos will not be disappointed.

The book is a great addition for your beadwork library ( No bias here…Not a all :-)  Here is the link for purchase from High Noon


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Works - Quilled War Shirt and beaded pipe bag.

 I finally finished the quilled shirt I was commissioned to make late last summer.  For those who have never made one….they really are a labor of love at times.   Over 300 hours,  not including material preparation time!

This shirt is a copy of a shirt I previously made.  Some differences though as I don't like making repeats.  

This shirt took a total of 5 deer hides to make.  It is sinew sewn and sinew sewn natural dyed quills.  I used several quilling techniques on it.  

And,  I love when museums purchase your work,  because they do such awesome photos!  

This bag is now in the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum.  Gives me pride I must say :-)  

And…onto new works.  I am really hoping this year to make some vibrant new works that have been in my brain waiting to come out.   Stay tuned.  


Saturday, March 21, 2015


I am very honored to announce a few of my works have been recently picked up by two highly  respected art museums.  

After my glass show last year ended at the Maryhill Museum of Art,  they purchased this Elk Effigy Glass Ladle for their permenant collection.  

Since the museum has both a historic art glass collection as well as a Native art collection,  they felt this ladle was a perfect piece to bridge and tie those collections together.  I appreciate they have this vision.  

I am also very happy to announce that Portland Art Museum has just acquired my "Eagle Bundle" for their permanent collection as well.  They felt this piece was important to give a illustration of what sacred bundles encompassed,  without actually making a "real" one or displaying sacred material that should not be for the public eye ( or ownership outside of the tribes ).  This was exactly the idea I had when I started making this glass work.  A way to portray a important narrative without crossing that line and making "real" items or showing items or things that should not be for public view.   It is a tricky road to respect traditions and navigate the art world at times.   

 And lastly,  also acquired by the Portland Art Museum - A pipe bag I originally made for a friend but ended up purchased by the museum.   I am happy it also found a place in such a respected institution.

Things seem to be happening.   Stay tuned as I am sure there is much more to come.  


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Catching up!

Boy,  its been a while since I have updated my blog.  Been very busy working on some great projects that I figured it was time for a update.

Firstly,  I wanted to announce a couple of new works on the literary front.   My work and my horse Cappy have been featured in this new publication ( Horse Nations ) just now being released by Oxford University Press   And….I also have been co writing a book on a beadwork collection that is just now headed to print and I will have more to post about this in the next month or so.

I have also been busy with several museum projects and also have been doing some lectures about the effects of artifakes and Hobbyism and the future of art collecting and integrity of collections.   I had a great lecture in November at the Portland Art Museum,  to packed house,  and my next lecture will be on April 23rd, 2015 at the Denver Art Museum. I am finding great reception to what I have to say about this often contentious subject.

And of course I continue to do my artwork and restoration work.  I had a successful show of my art glass that ended in late November at the Maryhill Museum of Art.   Quite a few of the glassworks featured in the show have now found happy homes with several respected art museums and collectors and I have to admit a little pride happening with that :-)

Lastly,  I should have new works to start posting again soon.   Here is a almost completed quilled shirt I have been working on this winter and with all intent I should be done with it in a week or two.   Ironically…it is a copy of a shirt I previously made.   When it is done I will do a more complete write up of it.

So…onward to more good work I hope and a great year.


Friday, September 26, 2014


I just completed this restoration of a ca. 1850's Plateau pony beaded dress.   The original dress appeared to have been very heavily water damaged.  And after that occurrence,  someone long ago then decided to cut off the bottom of the dress and also the ends of the sleeves.   So I had to rebuild the entire piece.  

 Originally this dress was made using Mt. Sheep hide.  They are next to impossible to procure these days due to a variety of factors.  So the museum I did this work for decided using deer hides on this reconstruction was warranted.

What I had to work with initially.  Heavily damaged, warped and missing beads.  

                                       Sleeve ends were cut off,  as were thongs below the yolk.

 The dress was also missing a lot of beads.   It was originally beaded using both sinew and spun Indian hemp or Dogbane.

Finished work.  I used old brass beads for the dangles.  This dress was sized for a youth or young teen girl.   It feels very satisfying to bring such heavily damaged work back to life.  Someone made this for another they greatly loved.  I hope they are happy with what I have done to save their work and brought honor and respect back to this dress. 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

TRANSMONTAINE (Crow/Nez Perce - Shoshone ) style bags

I just finished a new pipe bag for a Shoshone friend of mine,  and thought I would show it as well as another recent bag I made.  I am calling them "Transmontaine" which is a style of beadwork that encompassed the Plateau and part of the Great Basin areas.  It is not a style that only the Crows or the Nez Perce' did.  The Shoshones also had their own variants on this style.  

Most Crow/Nez Perce and Shoshone pipe bags were more of a shorter,  squatter style than what was made on the Plains.   And they for the most part lacked quill wrapped rawhide slats below the beaded panels.  Although on Crow and Nez Perce' bags the fringe is often wrapped in wool yarn and on rare occasions ( older bags ) they used quills as well.  

This pipe bag I had fun getting a little baroque with the design and colors.  A very contemporary spin on more traditional style.  I also did a full color change on both panels,  although the designs are the same.…I like to play with color.  

These bags are of course my own interpretation of this regional style.  All are beaded using antique Italian beads on smoked brain tanned deer and antelope hide.  Sinew sewn.  


Wednesday, June 25, 2014


This weekend,  the 28th of June is the Maryhill Museum of Art wine and art auction.   I donated this purse I made just for them,  based on Columbia River petroglyphs from the area surrounding the museum.  It is beaded using 13/0 cut beads and 24k. gold plated cut beads,  on Italian leather.   Here is the link to the auction catalog    

Bid early and bid often :-)  Proceeds help support special projects and exhibits at the museum.  


Monday, June 16, 2014


Today was a great day!  Just got my copy of the Appaloosa Journal.  They did a 10 page,  15 photo expose' on my horse "Cappy and myself :-)  I am very honored by them choosing us.   And right after I got the magazine I got a phone call from the previous owners of the stallion who sired Cappy.  Seems his father was far more than I even knew.  Multiple World Champion who sired world champions.  Had a great talk with him ( And I knew the name immediately as he is huge in the Quarter Horse World as a breeder ).  He was very happy to see this article featuring his former horses last son :-)  

So yeah…..It was a pretty good day today :-)  Pick up a copy if you can :-)


Thursday, May 29, 2014


I just finished this grizzly claw necklace.  It was made using 20 real ( and legally permitted ) grizzly claws.  

I wanted the narrative of the necklace to be on the impressive nature and power of the claws.  So it was kept very simple,  made with ocher stained smoked brain tanned hide and aged brass beads.  

The style was based on some early examples.  Although most of those used red cloth on them instead of hide.   At the time they were made,  cloth was far more valuable than hide was. 

And talking of impressive - Look at the numerous bear claw necklaces that Dr. Whirlwind is wearing.  This is one of my favorite images of the people here.  Strength and pride.   


Saturday, May 10, 2014


Just finished this California Cowgirl purse I made for a good friend of mine.  

I beaded this using a combination of beads ( Size 13 and 14 antique Italian beads and modern Czech cut beads,  with a few 12/o antique Italian beads in the mix. )  I also used sterling silver beads,  and sterling silver Navajo buttons.   Mounted on a "California Poppy" retro tooled Italian leather hide.  

Love having fun sometimes just making things for the joy of it :-)  


Sunday, April 27, 2014


I recently completed two bags,  based on Columbia River Petroglyphs.  

Both bags,  photographed on petroglyphs from the Columbia River currently housed at Maryhill Museum of Art.  

This first bag is based on a few very early examples of bags from the Columbia river area ( Ca. 1840 ). There is little work existing from that era today.   This one was a special project for a close friend.  Before the Bonneville Dam was built and covered Celilo Falls ( possibly the largest fishery in the world  , with so many salmon migrating up the river it was said you could walk across on their backs )  it was a highly traveled area by tribes from the Columbia River and Plateau region and beyond.  The falls were a huge trading crossroads, and after introduction of beads by Europeans,  many tons of trade goods were ferried up the river by traders to trade with inland tribes.  Sometimes accidents occurred,  and at one time you could find beads intermixed in the sand on the banks of the river.   My friend used to walk these banks collecting beads with his mother who was fighting cancer.  It was a very special time for them and probably extended her life for several years.  The beads and buttons they found are the very ones I used to make this bag for him.  This area is now the backwaters of the dam,  which covered vast stretches of important fisheries,  river banks and also petroglyphs which will never be seen again unless the dam is removed.  

This bag is on brain tanned deer hide,  sinew sewn with found antique pony beads and quilled with wolf moss dyed porcupine quills.  

This bag is a modern rendition of petroglyph designs,  again using Columbia River rock art inspiration.  It is beaded with 13/0 cut beads and 24k gold beads on Italian leather.   

Both of these bags have a lot of meaning for me,  as this is the art from where I grew up.   I can relate this to a sense of place and people.