Where colour plays
and you can, too!



















Beads of Colour is a full service bead store located in Dundas, Ontario, Canada at the western tip of Lake Ontario. Owned and operated by Debi Keir-Nicholson, artist, author, storyteller.




A Beads of Colour Exclusive!XXX

Debi Keir-Nicholson's review of the recent Beads of Life exhibit at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The Good, The Bad, and the August Long Weekend

Those of you who know me know I don’t often take a weekend off. The one exception is the August 1st weekend when I go camping to make campfire beads. I plan this weekend in January and reserve my spot in Bancroft so on my down time I can go bead shopping. Ok, maybe we can’t call this a “holiday” but I sure look forward to it. Unfortunately, because of a storm in the area this year, my campground was without water or electricity and so my host went home. The bad news? No camping trip and no bead shopping. The good news? To appease my crushed heart I decided to drive to Ottawa and see the exhibit, Bead for Life, at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

For me, the exhibition was worth much more the 11 hours of driving and $100 in gas and entrance fees; I saw pieces I have been looking at for years in the book, Africa Adorned. I signed this book out from the Dundas Library for years until I finally purchased my own copy. The exhibition was only open until September 10th and was a display of 185 beaded objects from Canadian collectors. It addressed the history of personal adornment, and its significance. It put a spotlight on beadwork as an art form. It addressed the use of beads made in Europe and the question of how beadwork then can be considered a tradition.

For me it was more than seeing some of the most exciting pieces up close and personal. It was paying homage to the beaders that have gone before us. These pieces, although in private collections now, were once the heirlooms of families proud of their heritage. The exhibition showed how beadwork has been used to communicate information of the wearer. We talk about pieces, we express what we learn about the pieces, yet when you see the pieces, something is transferred. Looking at pieces you have tried to understand only from books, you feel the creation of an intimacy with the piece.

I suppose it is like meeting someone that you feel you have known all your life. You understand something about the creator of the piece, you understand something about the times, you understand something about the wearer, you seem to get a momentary glimpse into the soul of the piece. As fleeting as it was, it reminded me of the moment in a meditation when you understand duality and then it is gone. I understood colour and how it related to life and expression, how we as bead artists use colour to communicate what we experience. How light and dark colours express sun and rain and how life is not the same without them. How we do this because a part of us knows this and not because we put it there. It was glorious and it was gone, and I have the pictures to relieve this precious experience.

The pictures do not do it justice; nothing short of your own two eyes can possibly say it all. What I really want to say is, it was worth the drive to Ottawa. If we are lucky it will travel and come to Toronto and we can all spend time with these friends from our history.