Students learn centuries-old artform at Washington nonprofit

04 Apr.,2023


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WASHINGTON — Inside the Institute for American Indian Studies on Sunday afternoon, an artform was being taught that’s hundreds of years old — beading.

Beading is a technique where glass beads, which come in multiple colors, are woven together on a loom using fine thread.

Items that can be made from beading include bookmarks, hats, medallions, hair pieces, necklaces, shawls and head pieces.

At the workshop, students learned the basics of how to bead. Patterns for items made from the beads were first created on graph paper.

Newtown resident Darlene Kascak, a member of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, said beading is “a tedious process, going individually through each one of those beads twice,” Kascak said. “You are doing it once when you’re threading it and then you’re doing it again to secure it.”

Originally, beading began with products found in nature, such as porcupine quills.

“The Egyptians created the start of glass beads,” said instructor Susan Schers, of Bethlehem. “The Venetians created the current bead size. Each one of the beads was individually wound on a glass rod.”

According to Kascak, traditionally, the patterns in beading tell a story. The patterns can also convey where someone lives.

For example, in the plains region — the center of the United States — geometric shapes are used. More locally, beading tends to have floral patterns “because there are a lot more flowers in this region than there are out in the deserts,” Kascak said.

For more information on beading classes, visit the Institute, 38 Curtis Road, at

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