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Beaded Objects in the Frost Collection

The beads traded by Steven Frost appear in many objects and garments made by Native Americans. They covered moccasins, pouches, bags, and even boxes. Fringe on objects required seed and larger beads. Seed beads were woven on a loom and sewn directly onto cloth and leather. Below are brief descriptions of 11 objects. Larger versions of the photographs are available in the Photo Gallery.

The following is additional documentation for the 11 beaded objects chosen for online exhibit in CollectionLink. Following the text for each object is a number or numbers that refer to the sample cards in the Frost Trade Bead Collection. Letters A-Y refer to the green-bordered sample cards with Venetian seed beads in 6-row groupings by color; Letters Z and Za refer to cards with somewhat larger seed beads in 3-row groups of mostly variegated colors; Roman numerals refer to cards with much larger, more elaborate Venetian beads arranged in rows of 2-13 beads; and the "Card #" designation refers to smaller, glossy white cards that display beads made in Gablonz, Czechoslovakia.

(Please note that some cards are missing; for example, those that held the red and black seed beads. They were missing in 1941 when Dan Frost gave the cards to the ISM. Therefore, cards designations are not listed for all the beads used to decorate some objects. In these cases, an * is at the end of the list.)

photograph of pouch1. 1954-45-804116 (Ojibwa)
Ojibwa beadwork (and quillwork, which beadwork largely replaced through time), like that of many Northern Woodlands Indians, was heavily influenced by the French. Native American girls and women were taken into French convents and taught to sew, embroider, and do other women's crafts. The motifs they learned to copy were mostly floral, reflecting the decorative elements favored by the French from the late 1600s through the mid-1800s. Ojibwa use of floral motifs continues to the present day. Other influences, however, found their way into American Indian life, including the Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 1930s (which also originated in France). It is evident here in the bands of triangular elements and the use of pastel colors, especially pink and green, combined with black and white. A,C,D,I,Q,Y, and VIII*

photograph of beaded box 2. 1954-45-804121a-b (Ojibwa)
Women's "box" purses were not uncommon in the 1920s and 1930s, and presumably this was made for that segment of the tourist market. G,K,N,O, and Q*

photograph of beaded yoke and lapels3. 1954-45-804122a-c (Ojibwa)
These three pieces were originally sewn onto another garment, either a jacket to be worn by a man or woman (more likely a woman) or a woman's dress. The wear evident in several places indicates that they were used, but the garment onto which they were sewn is not extant. D,G,K,N,Q, and Card 19/604-00, and 871*

photograph of bandoleer bag4. 1954-45-804124 (Ojibwa)
Bandoleer bags were used by Europeans to hold musket and pistol balls, flints, and other materials required for shooting (xcept powder). Native Americans adopted bandoleer bags for the same purpose but decorated them in their own style. By the 20th century, bandoleer bags were largely decorative, as is evident in the fact that this "bag" has no opening; it cannot hold anything. It was worn, over the shoulder, as a piece of men's decorative clothing. It is unusual in that the body of the object is decorated with beadwork in a seemingly random pattern, though the shoulder strap has traditional floral motifs. A-Y and Card 19/682, and 871*

photograph of pouch5. 1954-45-804125 (Ojibwa)
In their original context, pouches or bags such as this one were used by men while hunting to hold small objects such as projectile points, twine or cordage, and later, musket balls and other shooting materials other than powder. By the 1930s, such pouches were mostly decorative and used in ceremonial contexts. This one might have been made for sale to as a form of woman's clutch purse. C,D, and I*

phhotograph of beaded jacket6. 1954-45-804127 (Ojibwa)
There is evidence of wear on the ties and the red trim around the neck and other places on this man's jacket. It was worn often, but we do not know whether by an Ojibwa man or by the donor, Mrs. C.W.H. Schuck. The jacket weighs eight pounds; wearing it for several hours would have been tiring. A,C-E,G,J-K,N,P,Y*

photograph of beaded moccasins7. 1960-7-816186a-b (Great Lakes)
These moccasins are decorated in a style that, a century or two earlier, would have used quills instead of beads. The decorative style is found throughout the Northern Woodlands, but the specific tribe or band is note known. D,G,K,Y

photograph of man's necklace8. 1968-71-814551 (Blackfeet)
This is a man's necklace. The hair pipe beads are very small and are glass rather than the usual bone, ceramic, or plastic (which first became available in the late 19th century). Card19/745*

photograph of moccasins9. 1968-71-816755a-b (Ojibwa)
These men's moccasins are an excellent example of beaded footwear done by the Ojibwa. The floral motifs are typical of their culture and resemble those found on the jacket (1954-45-804127) and yoke and lapels (1954-45-804122a-c). D,I,K,N,Q*

photograph of moccasins10. 1983-114-820276a-b (Ojibwa)
Although made in the early 1900s, these moccasins are decorated in a style similar to that of a century earlier. The use of faceted, iridescent ivory glass seed beads and silver metal seed beads is unusual. B?,K,O,P*

photographof beaded hair wrap11. 1983-114-820277 (Ojibwa)
Bead looms came into use in the late 18th century in part because strips of beadwork such as this hair wrap could be made more quickly on them than by hand beading. The structure of the bead loom, however, limits the types of designs that can be made; true curvilinear designs, for example, cannot be executed on a bead loom. C,G,K,Q,R


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