If you’ve been following along on our Instagram, you might have noticed that we’ve been honoring the Native American tradition of giving by hosting a giveaway of our own. To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, we partnered with the talented artist, Warren Mountain, to showcase his beadwork in a giveaway opportunity. The colorful and luminous beaded patches that are the focal point of this contest are all one-of-a-kind, crafted by Warren. We were honored to sit down and interview this talented creative who is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Nation and a descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
What inspired you to start making jewelry?
Growing up I always remember having beadwork around – either in the house, and especially when we went to powwows in the summer. The designs usually tied back to geometric shapes or floral patterns inspired by our Native American ancestors. After going to a few archives and seeing how we as a people have been creating for hundreds of years, I wanted to pick up those skills and create my own inspired designs while maintaining their techniques.
Can you tell us about your design philosophy?
Usually I think of designs months ahead of time in my head, which is usually an accumulation of something inspired by traditional ojibwe floral motifs, finding an old photograph of other Native Americans styling outfits, and contemporary fashion. Also, when I’m creating I want to make sure that I’m paying respect by recreating them with jeweled beads and clean form lines that showcases its natural beauty in shape.
What materials do you love working with?
My favorite medium to work with is glass seed beads. After spending years around traditional beadwork I’ve grown to love the way the beads shine like jewels and appreciate in beauty over time. They change colors in the low lights or glow with vibrancy in the sun. Before the fur trade era we didn’t have glass beads, but instead we used dyed porcupine quills to create designs on clothes, shoes, accessories, spiritual items, and tools. I like that method as well, but beads have my heart.
We read in your bio that you've studied with local Indigenous beaders. How have they influenced your style?
There’s an online beading community that’s alive and thriving. On Instagram you can see the latest beaded pieces and traditionally inspired fashion from all across Indian Country. That online presence has inspired me to keep creating and to always innovate and improve quality with every piece. It also gives a different perspective on how to use certain items. Some people have generations of knowledge while others are just picking up those skills and knowledge. There’s a lot of innovation always happening.
Can you tell us about your favorite piece in your collection?
I don’t really keep much in my personal archive, but I have kept one item to myself: the Carry your Medicines Bag. It’s a small dance bag created with LV monogram material and embellished with beaded appliqué inspired from local plants that I would consider medicines like Labrador tea leaves. That piece was also created for an art show featuring Native Minnesotan beadwork artists.
What are you working on next?
I plan on continuing to grow my jewelry and accessories business and continuing to learn about my culture and improving my technical skills.
After the collaboration with Faherty I picked up some embroidery skills that I think I’m going to make a regular product. I just love how much thought and history you can put into beadwork and making it versatile so you can use it everyday.
To enter to win one of Warren's beaded patches follow along on Instagram @fahertybrand and @wxmountain to learn more.