Meet the Artist: Bead n' Butter

Meet the Artist: Bead n' Butter

Monarch butterfly earrings made in Canada by Metis beader Bead 'n Butter.
Jessie Pruden, creator of Bead n’ Butter, is a Métis artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba who in the midst of a pandemic found full time success through her beading. Honouring the craft practiced by her Aunties, Jessie mixes contemporary and traditional designs, offering colourful, bold pieces made for any person, and any occasion. In only one years time, Jessie now has over ten thousand followers on Instagram and spreads positivity through her work. She identifies as a queer, disabled, Métis woman, and is deeply inspired by her friends, family, nature and her culture. We talked to Jessie about the influence of friends, reconnecting with her Indigenous heritage and the lively creative scene in Winnipeg.

When did you start beading and what inspired you to learn the craft?

I taught myself how to bead during the first round of quarantine in April, 2020. I had become recently disabled so I could no longer work as a server as I had been for over 15 years, and I had been wanting to reconnect to my culture, so picking up beading seemed the logical next step. For 12 hours every day, I'd pour over YouTube videos (I couldn't even sew a button) but eventually things started coming together and becoming easier and flowing.  My Aunties are all very creative, in particular my Aunty Doods who is an amazing beader, so I felt like I was connecting to her energy.

Your pieces are available in a range of beautiful colour palettes, from earthy to vibrant, soft pastels to rich, deep hues. Where does your wonderful colour sensibility come from, and how do you choose a palette when you sit down to create?

Mostly my colours are inspired by my friends and family, and the colour palettes they themselves wear. I know a lot of very stylish and amazing people, so pulling inspiration from them is easy! They also love to play with my beads when they come over, so a lot of times they put together palettes I've never thought about, and I definitely use them. I'm also very inspired by my mother's huge amazing garden (most of my photoshoots are taken there).  She has so many gorgeous and amazing plants in LOTS of different colours, and it's amazing seeing them all together. Lastly, I keep an eye on what colour trends are coming up. From checking out the Pantone site to fashion runways, there's so many incredible ideas.

Each of your patterns has a name. “Allisons,” “Jemmas,” “Liams,” etc. For whom are your patterns named after, and in what way do they influence your work?

My patterns are all named after friends of mine! When I first started creating, I'd ask them what kinds of patterns they'd like to see and try to make something reflective of their ideas, so my oldest patterns are directly inspired by their ideas. I now have a ton of notebooks full of ideas, and whenever I create something I name it after someone it reminds me of, and it's always my most beloved of friends and family. Sometimes, as in the case of the "Liam"s, my friends will send me pictures of nature or things they think would translate into a beautiful earring. My friend Liam - who is an amazing photographer - sent me a picture of a moth.  The "Liam"s are butterflies, but it was the wing pattern that I really latched onto. I'll make moth versions at some point.  I know I've mentioned them constantly, but my friends are the loves of my life, and influence absolutely everything I do.

You’ve accomplished so much in one year! What is the future for Bead n’ Butter and how do you hope to inspire others through your craft?

I hope to do more community work. I'm actively trying to figure out teaching workshops online, and hope to continue to be able to give back with both my time and with my product. I also want to keep amplifying the voices of Indigenous people, and help support all the amazing folks who have helped support me. This community is so rich, and so incredible, and so KIND. I wasn't sure how it would be, but everyone is so welcoming and so generous with their knowledge and skill. I would eventually love to have a storefront where I could carry goods from Indigenous folks, but that's a long ways away. For now, I'm concentrating on making rent every month, haha.

Whether it’s right at home or a special adventure you’ve taken, what is one of your favourite places in Canada, and why?

To be honest, Winnipeg is my favourite place in Canada. We obviously have issues when it comes to our government, the environment, and we are known to be a violent and racist city, but if you are able to find them, there is such an incredible community of activism and inclusivity. I know so many people working towards real change, and am really grateful to have just the most amazing group of friends anyone could ask for. What we lack in leadership we make up for with a really rich musical culture, lots of local makers and business people, and lots of cultural activities and festivals. We get the really cold, blustery, snowy winters that are as picturesque as they are freezing, and the hot hot summers with endless sunny days and bright green neighbourhoods. We have so many incredible restaurants and such a rich food culture. There are lots of cool people doing really cool things. And this province?  I mean, we've got deserts and polar bears, waterfalls and beaches. We've got it all, and it's home.

Shop all Bead n' Butter here

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