Beading is more than just a skill: it’s art
- Kaitlynn Nordal | April 26, 2022
Kaleigh Starblanket is taking her intricate patterned beadwork to a whole new level and to an entirely new audience – thanks to some big names.
Most recently, Paulina Alexis from Nakoda Sioux Nation, known for her role as Willie Jack on FX’s Reseveration Dogs, her appearance in Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Beans, attended the Critic’s Choice Awards wearing Indigenous fashion including a pair of beaded hair ties that were created by Starblanket. A photo of Alexis wearing the beaded hair ties appeared in Vogue on March 14.
Kacey Musgraves, an American singer and songwriter also posted a photo on Instagram wearing a pair of Starblanket’s beaded earrings.
“I find it amazing to see my work in those spaces that Indigenous people don’t seem to be occupying that often,” said Starblanket. Social media Influencers like Tia Wood have also stepped out in public wearing some of Starblanket’s beaded creations.
The young designer and artist believes creating intricate designs with tiny, colourful beads is a way for her to connect with her family and to her history.
Starblanket and her two older siblings are all long-time powwow dancers and their mother Margaret created all their regalia for them.
“I always wanted to be like (my mom) and create beadwork for other people because that’s what she did,” said Starblanket. “She taught me to always bead from the heart and with good intentions.” Starblanket’s unique design style is reminiscent of her Cree and Dakota ancestry.
“The fact that our people have done this for hundreds of years always inspired me,” said Starblanket. “It fascinated me that our people were able to create their traditional clothing and beadwork and each tribe had their own way of creating certain pieces.” She has worked many years to perfect her style, which is very distinct. Samples of her beadwork are on the L. Starblanket Art Facebook page and Instagram @lstarblanketart.
By the time Starblanket reached high school people were purchasing her creations.
“My family and my siblings encouraged me (and made me believe) my work was good enough,” she said.
Once she realized people were interested in her work, she set new goals and expectations for herself.
Her drive to perfect her skills and try new things is paying off because people recognize her style and her pieces are in demand. “It makes me feel like I accomplished something,” said Starblanket.
However, she’s not letting her newfound success go to her head. Starblanket remains focused on her education and says her beading comes second to her studies.
“I feel like I am in a good position right now,” said Starblanket. “I hope once I am done with my degree I can expand more.”