Wearable Art for Everyone 

Janet Antone, the creative force behind Ms. Antone’s Beadwork, has been creating unique wearable art since 2013. 

Janet Antone poses for a portrait. She has curly brown hair, is wearing glasses, and is smiling.
Janet Antone is a proud Indigenous maker, melding traditional techniques with modern designs. Image via Instagram @ms.antonesbeadwork.

She creates one-of-a-kind modern beaded jewellery and embroidery, including earrings, necklaces, patches, and other accessories that she sells online and at local events.

A proud member of the Oneida Nation of Thames, Janet has turned what began as art therapy into a full-time gig. She embraced beadwork as a way to reclaim, connect to, and celebrate her culture.

Three pairs of long beaded earrings sit on a wood board enrgaved with Ms. Antone's Beadwork.
Intricately beaded earrings from Ms. Antone’s Flower Maerion Collection. Image via Instagram @ms.antonesbeadwork.

Combining traditional beading techniques, such as brick stitch, peyote stitch, and square stitch with bold colours to create contemporary designs, she creates “pieces made to stand out in a crowd.”

And if you don’t follow her on Instagram, you’re missing out. Not only will you love seeing her gorgeous work, but you get to enjoy her sassy sense of humour that comes out in her reels.

 

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A post shared by Janet Antone (@ms.antonesbeadwork)

In addition to designing, making, and teaching beading, Janet also organizes and promotes a seasonal Indigenous handmade pop-up market. The markets, which have moved online due to COVID-19, feature authentic Indigenous-made items from across Turtle Island and provide an opportunity for Indigenous makers to reach new audiences. Through these markets, Janet aims to hold space and build a community for Indigenous creatives.⁣

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Colourful beaded earrings lay flat in a row.
Ms. Antone’s Beadwork earrings and other accessories are intricately made by hand. Image via Instagram @ms.antonesbeadwork.

So, let’s get to know this dynamic, creative leader!

What do you make?

I create one-of-a-kind hand-beaded jewellery, accessories, and art. Also known as Beadwork.

How and when did you start creating?

I began beading in 2013 as part of my mental health journey. My friend taught me and soon after Ms. Antone’s Beadwork was born. Through beading, it’s also helped me connect more to what it means to be an Indigenous person and an Indigenous entrepreneur.

Do you remember your first piece? What was it?

Yes, I still have them. I don’t think I’ve ever shown anyone. They were this pair of fringe earrings, but they’re definitely a “first pancake” situation (haha). 

What do you wish you had known when you first started making?

That this is still art and still an extension of who I am as a person and that means it holds immense value. So I guess — don’t undervalue yourself to appease others. 

How did you come up with your name for your business?

Well, I’m really bad at coming up with business names, so I just used my last name and what I make. Then as time went on, I realized that my business name is fully encompassing. Antone is my family’s last name and is rooted within my community and Nation. I’ve realized that “beadwork” holds so many meanings and represents the act of reclamation I’m making as an Indigenous person since Indigenous people weren’t able to practice our culture until 50 years ago. So it’s a really powerful thing that I’m building my business on my family name.

What or who inspires you?

The Indigenous beadwork community, both online and within my community. To see these powerful Indigenous artists being in Vouge, on runways, putting food on their tables, and providing for their families. It’s so inspirational.

I also like to watch behind the scene videos on ballerinas. They work so hard and are amazing athletes, and yet what they present is so delicate and beautiful. It reminds me a lot of beading. I sometimes work 14 hour days, running on coffee, and my hands get pretty beat up and callused creating these beautiful, delicate, and intricate pieces.  

What’s your favourite item or piece to work on?

This is a hard question — I love everything I make! Every piece is an extension of me and where I’m at in my life, but if I guess my most recent faves were the Lindsay Collection and these beaded, mixed-material necklaces.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a maker?

Finding the balance of the “hustle” and having the energy to create new pieces. It’s easy to get caught up trying to produce as much as possible because you need to make money to live. But I also want time to be able to create pieces that are swirling around my head, and sometimes that requires time for trial and error, and that’s not always possible. 

What’s your favourite London neighbourhood and why?

I’m partial to Wortley because I used to live there, and I have the sweetest memories of it, and it’s like a pause of peace before getting into the bustle of downtown. Also, Unwrapped Marketplace carries my work, and they have the cutest shop in Wortley. 

What’s your favourite “hidden gem” in London you think more people should know about?

Nokee Kwe’s +Positive Voices program — they offer programming and support to empower Indigenous women who are transitioning to employment or education. They are always looking for donations and support. Also Atlohsa Family Healing Services’ Okaadenige program — it offers support and programming to survivors of human trafficking and abuse. They’re always looking for donations to help offer programming to the participants. 

Where can people find your work?

My website: msantonesbeadwork.com, Little Ldn Boutique in the Western Fair Market, Unwrapped Marketplace in Wortley Village, and Pacha Arts in Toronto. 

What other London makers should Londoners check out?

Flourish & Grow, Antler River Press, Mem Ireland Art, Otsitsi Designs, Koda Bear Bead N Goodz, and Rezonance.

Connect with Ms. Antone’s Beadwork 

Feature photo courtesy of Ms. Antone’s Beadwork.

London Makers and Creators is a series from LondonFuse, focusing on the talented artisans who make and sell their work throughout London and area.

Are you or do you know a London maker we should be highlighting? If so, let us know in the comments below or email info@londonfuse.ca to be featured.

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