Beader shares gift that saved her family
Over two decades ago, Tamerra Martin was given a gift that saved her family in a great time of need. “I was taught by a lady who knew that me and my kids were struggling,” Martin said. “She sat me down and she said, ‘I’m going to teach you how to bead. So that you can make money for you and your kids.’ From that point on, I kept beading.”
She used beading as a way to provide for her family until she got a full-time job. Then, beading became her therapy. “It’s the colors you want to use like whatever mood you want to set in your beadwork,” Martin said. Beading has also given her a sense of accomplishment that has translated to other areas of her life. “Especially the part of completing a project,” Martin said. “You’re proud of your project. If you complete something that you set your mind to you have a more positive outlook on other goals that you set yourself up for.”
This is why she decided to lead a beading workshop at Diné College in Tsaile. The beading workshop is part of the Navajo Cultural Arts Program that runs at all the branches of the college. This was the first workshop that Martin has ever done and she was elated to share her knowledge with the women who attended her workshop.
“I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night,” she said. The five women who attended the workshop sat on the second floor of the Kinyaa’áanii Charlie Benally Library in Tsaile facing the east entrance. There was an ease and calmness to the space that could best be described as meditative. The women shared a few laughs here and there. But they were mostly concentrating on the task at hand.
“I’ve taught my kids how to bead and I thought ‘Well, it’ll be interesting to teach people I don’t know,’” Martin said.
Martin shared with the group what her first beading project was. “I made a heart shaped barrette,” she said. The beading technique the attendees learned is very versatile and involves beading the outlines of a pattern and then filling the pattern in. The example Martin brought in was of a rose medallion she beaded.
“Once they learn, I hope they teach other people as well,” Martin said. One of the participants was Cheryl Lee who drove all the way from Flagstaff to attend the workshop. Lee is a first-time beader and wanted to learn so she could teach her sisters.
“I always wanted to learn how to do this,” Lee said. Her family used to bead but they made bracelets and other items. Lee wanted to learn how to make earrings. “I don’t know when we stopped doing it,” Lee said.
So she drove over three hours to learn how to bead because it was important to her. She saw all the beautiful beaded earrings and this inspired her to want to make her own. “I just had to find the opportunity and time,” she said.
Lee had just finished her second line of beadwork and was contemplating what color she wanted next. She had finally found the time and a person to teach her.