“Kikinowîyâw êkwa nitawîyâw, kîspin kisêwâtisiwin ê-nipawihtên.”
We are all related and interconnected in the web of life that surrounds us.
This quote is in Michif, the tribal language of the Indigenous Metis people of Native American descent. Out of our treasure troves of Indigenous entrepreneurs, we have chosen to talk about Bronwyn Butterfield, an artist of the historical Metis-Beadwork, who can breathe soul into her work. Bronwyn Butterfield has mixed ancestry, including Métis-Cree-Scottish, McLeod heritage from Kinosewi-Sipihk (Norway House, MB), and European ancestry.
Hailing from the great city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Butterfield has a degree in Bachelor of Arts with a penchant for geography. As a self-proclaimed outdoors enthusiast who taught herself Metis beadwork to follow the footsteps of her great-grandparents, Butterfield is the fourth generation in her family to carry this legacy and has earned herself quite the place as an artist. Beading is a complex process which requires attention to detail and deliberation; Butterfield uses vintage glass beads with metal beads of gold (24K & 14K) and sterling silver. She also uses secondhand material for her artwork but double-checks the quality before sourcing it.
Her artwork and jewelry are poignant, thoughtful, and deliberate that communicate passion to the soul. Inspired heavily by nature and familial patterns, Butterfield has mastered her craft in creating unique pieces such as jewelry, mittens, pins, gauntlets, moccasins, and artform that use leatherwork, beading and sewing. In fact, the bright-coloured beads she picks for her art piece relate stories of her tradition, her culture, and her people.
In her words, “I work slowly in very small batches to accommodate the emotional energy that goes into making my pieces. I restock my online shop when I can accommodate it, which allows me to balance making a livelihood with respecting to the slowness and teachings of beadwork.”
Her unique sense of creativity and innovation is blended with the virtuous bend of principles that make Butterfield a dignified artist grounded in her cultural tradition as opposed to modern-day entrepreneurs. Perhaps this is what sets her apart from the rest of the businesses trying to compete with each other.
She says, “In the age of consumerism and fast fashion, this might seem unconventional, but beadwork is not meant to be mass-produced. I am not a brand; I am a person making art and practicing my culture.”
Butterfield admits that her artwork takes time to shape up, which solely depends on the size of the project. If it’s a jewelry piece like an earring, she might take a couple of hours to a couple of days to finish. But a sizeable project like moccasins, gauntlets, or mittens can take days or even up to weeks. Finishing a piece takes meticulous detail and task, as beadwork carries generational knowledge and can be used to tell stories or pass down specific teachings.
As someone who takes her art seriously and reveres it, Butterfield also claims it has the power of healing. Bronwyn Butterfield was featured as a guest artist in an event by the retail brand Vans.
An inspiration for many young artists, Bronwyn Butterfield is busy carving out her unique niche through her talent.
Interested to learn more about beadwork art or jewelry? Visit the official site of Bronwyn Butterfield at https://bronwynbutterfield.com/. Check out her collection of handmade crafts and Moccasins.
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