Sunday, 24 February 2013

Maneuvering An Online Market!

This week we took the first step in  building a bigger online presence; creating a shop at Etsy. It can be quite overwhelming. All kinds of information, resources and help is made available to the first timer, but it's still easy to feel that everything has to be perfect straight out of the gate! There's quite a bit of information that a seller can, and should, pass on to a potential customer. After all, shopping online comes with a different set of challenges than in person. An interested person cannot simply pick up an item to judge for themselves how heavy or light it will be. Everyone's monitors display colour differently. What looks fire engine red to me, might look plum to you, and so on. So in my opinion, it's the seller's job to relay as much information as accurately as they can. And in turn, what we're trying to do. Weight, length, width can all be relayed to an interested person. Photographs with rulers or even scale displays tells a buyer a lot. The golden rule of describing a product is to think like a customer.
Great advice!
I've tried to do that with our listings. So far, I've included what makes each piece special for us; inspiration perhaps, or why those beaded buffalos have that red line, for example. Your shop is both your online store and you. It only makes sense to convey as much information as possible and be as accesible as you can. It would drive me crazy to be a customer only to find no info on what I want to buy AND have a seller  not check their shop messages. That just seems to project a I-don't-care-attitude!
So, I promise to think like a customer from this day forward. I promise that customer service and quality will be the cornerstone of our business.
After all, in today's cyber-market, it's a tougher place to sell what we love!

You can find us on Etsy at
CeeCee Native Crafts

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The "Give Away Horses" Dress

We admire talented craftspeople of all kinds, no matter what kind of art they excel at.
One of the most talented has to be Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty. According to the Native American Encyclopedia,

"Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty was born in Castro Valley, California in 1969; however, her family comes from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, where Juanita spent much of her childhood.
Her mother, Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty, is also an acclaimed bead and quill artist and the only artist to have won best of show three times at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Both artists come from a long line of Plains Indians bead workers. Juanita learned skills from her mother and has been beading since the age of three."

So clearly, the woman almost oozes talent! Here is a glimpse of her work,
"Give Away Horses" dress

According to the Smithsonian,
"Made from elk skin and covered in countless blue and white beads sewed on one at a time, the dress is a highlight of the National Museum of the American Indian's "Identity by Design" exhibition. The Assiniboine/Sioux Indian is one of the West's most highly regarded beadworkers. She has created more than 500 dresses, cradle boards, dolls and other pieces, and has won top honors at the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts' annual show in Santa Fe three times—more than any other artist."
But the story doesn't end there. The artist had grown up on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana, where her grandfather Ben Gray Hawk, a tribal leader, performed a traditional "giveaway" ceremony. He would tie a war bonnet to a horse's head, sing a song paying tribute to loved ones and turn the horse loose into a crowd of men. Whoever caught the horse was able to keep it, an act of generosity meant to honor Gray Hawk's grandchildren.
Perhaps a close up of the dress will help fill in the blanks?

This dress is a part of the "Identity by Design" exhibit, which showcases 55 Native American dresses and 200 accessories from the 1830s to the present.

Joyce said she worked on it every day for ten months, usually waking at 4 a.m. and beading at her kitchen table for 16 hours. She says she felt the spirit of her ancestors beading along with her. Her daughter, Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, and 18-year-old granddaughter, Jessica, who live in North San Juan, California, pitched in. Juanita made the breastplate, belt, knife case, awl case and bag for fire-starting tools; and Jessica made a beaded strip for the blanket. "We were constantly working," Juanita recalls. "Every now and then, I'd throw in a load of laundry, but we just kept at it."

The dress is Sioux-style, meaning the yoke (or cape) is completely covered in the small glass "seed" beads that Europeans introduced to Native artisans around 1840. (Originally, they made beads from shell, bone and stone.) The dress depicts not only horses and their tracks but also the rectangular drums used at the giveaway ceremony. Some of the accessories, such as the awl case (traditionally used to carry sewing tools), are seldom seen with modern Indian dresses. "I really wanted to make it real," Joyce says.

What a fabulous piece with a rich story!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Magnificent Cougar

Did you know that mountain lions eat porcupine in addition to deer, skunk, badger, rabbits and many other animals?

Cougars are mostly solitary animals, except when mothers are raising cubs and when males and females are mating.
Solitary does not mean that cougars do not have a social structure--quite the contrary. Cougars live in low-densities on the land--a single cougar requires from a minimum of 10 to 100 square miles to breed, raise young, and hunt. Both males and females are highly territorial and maintain and defend their chosen home ranges from other cougars. They advertise their availability for breeding through a system of feline communication which includes scent marking with scrapes (in tree bark or troughs in the dirt usually made with hind paws which are then often urinated or defecated on) and vocalizations. Females can be tolerant of slight overlaps in their territories with other females. However, males will defend their home ranges against transgressions by other males.

We here at CeeCee Native Crafts believe that cougars should be protected. Join us in the battle for understanding and protection for these magnificent cats at
The Cougar Fund

Sunday, 25 November 2012

New From The Studio!

Since I've not shared a glimpse of what we've been working on, a good friend has been encouraging me ... okay, prodding me, to do so.
So today's post is all about what's new from our little creative space. Here in our neck of the woods, literally, we're gearing up for a craft show sometime in early December. Many of our little gems then have a very Christmasy feel. Or at least winter. Betty made these delightful earrings, inspired by a decorated Christmas tree. The photo just doesn't get their sparkle across, but trust me, they sparkle and dance as if they really were lit from within.

Chevy made these little guys from hex beads, and I think they're just about the cutest beaded owls ever! They're just about an inch long and light as a feather. Get it? Feather...owl....
Guess you had to be there.

This key fob was inspired by another piece I designed recently. This is the wolf paw print from "Spirit Howls". I remember being a kid and wishing I could afford some little thing. So with this in mind, we try and make beadwork everyone can afford and enjoy. So this piece was designed with kids in mind, of all ages and genders. You didn't think beadwork was just for women, did you?

This is the aforementioned "Spirit Howls", a bookmark I designed. It has a First Nations feel to it because it was inspired by a Native painter, Norman Knott. There are some things I've changed, so the next piece like this will be slightly different. I wanted to blend elements of old and new, so I used a modern finish (aurora borealis) for the background and the tradition of the spirit line. I also wanted to honor the Four Directions by using one color from each quadrant of the Medicine Wheel. Some might say they can see his breath, some may say it's his prayer to the Creator. I hope this piece brings someone else joy as well.

Of course, that's not all we've created, these are only a teaser. If you'd like to see more, you can find it all at Cee Cee Native Crafts website. Just click the link!
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We do hope you'll stop by and say hi. And if you see anything you'd like to enquire about, there's always email. Feel free to drop us a line and let us know what you think!

Friday, 23 November 2012

What Are Chevron Beads?

What a neat old bead I stumbled across on the web!

It is a 7 layer clear striped chevron. It is comprised of white, aqua, white, brick red, white, clear outer layers covering 6 blue and 3 each aqua and brick red stripes. Faceted and 9mm x 9mm. 1600s/1700s

According to Wikipedia,
"Venetian chevron beads are drawn beads, made from glass canes, which are shaped using specifically constructed star moulds. The first chevron beads were made towards the end of the 15th century, consisting of 7 layers of alternating colours. They usually have 6 facets. Unlike their later counterparts, they were not always made with the standard 12-point star mould. By the beginning of the 20th century, 4 and 6-layer chevron beads appear on various sample cards. According to records kept at the Societa Veneziana Conterie of Murano, they stopped making chevron canes during the 1950s. Chevron beads are still being made in Venice today, albeit in very small quantities."

This is a Chinese example of a chevron bead, also called a "rosette" bead. Modern, but still beautiful in it's own right.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A Did You Know Moment

Did you know...

The earliest Native American fetishes are called Ahlashiwe or stone ancients by the Zunis. They were naturally formed stones that seemed to resemble people or animals, sometimes made more realistic with the features accentuated by a carver. Different animals were thought to bring different attributes. Bears are commonly seen, thought to bring the keeper strength.
Some Native American fetishes will have an inlaid turquoise or coral "heartline" extending from the mouth to the center of the body. One of the possible explanations for this heartline is that it represents a time in Zuni mythology when animals totally dominated man. The Great Spirit sent a bolt of lightning that turned all man-eating animals into stone. The lightning is represented by an inlaid or painted line. Another possible interpretation is that the heartline gives the fetish healing or medicinal power.

As you can see above, we've given this tradition our own spin by keeping that heartline in our hex bead buffalo earrings.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Northern Inspiration

Inspiration  often strikes when we least expect it. I was cruising Pinterest earlier and saw this shot, which in turn inspired a beadwork piece that's now in the planning stages. I just had to share it! It was taken by Brian Powers, a very talented photographer here in Ontario. I hope it moves you in some way.