The Self-Taught Teacher
About three years ago, Georgina Pewatooalook, 27, went online to learn to loop and string beads to make earrings, necklaces and bracelets. There was no one around to teach her, and nowhere in town to buy the supplies. She ordered hooks, clasps, threads and beads in bulk and despite the spotty local Internet service, she followed along to tutorials on a British website. She can still recite the clunky URL address.
Now, she mixes sealskin—dyed silver, black, gold, even purple or red—with metallic chains and beading to give her designs a modern look. She also experiments with baleen and caribou antler her grandfather, a hunter, gives her.
And she’s taught herself how to loop beaded flower centres to fasten petals of sealskin together.
“A more learned seamstress could actually make those scraps into full-size mittens,” she says. “I don’t have the knowledge to make sealskin mittens,
so I just follow what I’m good at.”
Pewatooalook sells her jewellery at the local flea market and to cruise ship passengers who stop in town each summer. With appreciation for her dangling chandelier earrings and more traditional designs growing among local teenagers, she jumped at an offer to run a jewellery-making program at the high school. Who better understands the need for a teacher?