When you enter the Pickle Barrel Trading Post, you’re bound to be enchanted. From our polished silver jewelry to our fragrant sage bundles, there is much to admire. Yet what stands out, in particular? The dazzling Apache beadwork. Whether it’s glitzy and glamorous or gracefully traditional, Native American beadwork has a storied history. Today we’ll look at the background, stylistic elements, and methods of Apache beadwork.

Beads date back tens of thousands of years. Before glass was introduced to the Americas, beads were made from native stone and shells. Glass trade beads were introduced in the mid-1500s by the Europeans. However, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that the seed bead we know today became prevalent. Native artists favored these tiny beads because they made it easier to create intricate and colorful designs. Beaded jewelry, clothing, pouches, and moccasins quickly dominated the Native American beadwork scene.

Today, the beadwork we see extends to many utilizations. Beaded lanyards, wallets, and other accessories are often seen in addition to more classic applications. Some of the most popular items seen in Apache beadwork are earrings and medallion necklaces. They’re typically big and bold in fashion, adorned with colorful rhinestones and patterns like horses, bears, and flowers. More traditional Apache styles will showcase the four sacred colors: Black, yellow, white, and blue or green. Apache moccasins, unique in style, are often beaded with various patterns and colors.

Massive talent and endless patience are required for beadwork. Overlay stitch is typically used to cover large areas. Lane Stitch, lovingly referred to as Lazy Stitch, uses several beads strung together and stitched at each end. Loom work uses a bead loom to weave intricate patterns. Peyote or Gourd stitch is used to adorn cylindrical items such as drum beaters or fan handles.

Visit us in-store or online to browse our authentic selection of Apache beadwork!