Heleena's Spooky Beaded DIY Skin
September 15, 2023
Written byHeleena Horrer, lunchbox fam member
First, I’d like to give some background on myself and my beading journey. I am a white-passing urban biracial Native who grew up without their traditions and culture in a white dominant community. When I was younger, I quickly caught on that it was easier to blend in and never sought information on my Indigenous culture. After the death of a family member during my senior year of high school, I started to see the discrepancies of the life of my family on the reservation versus the privilege that I grew up with. When I got to college, I sought information to help myself understand more about systemic hierarchies and my culture. I got involved with my university’s American Indian Studies and joined the Native American Student Association. I even ended up majoring in Race and Culture Studies and dedicating myself to this field. This experience connected me to other Indigenous people, and I began my journey of understanding my racial identity and reclaiming my culture. It was my sophomore year that I mentored for the Native American Youth in Leadership Conference and I met another Native who I later found out is family through my tribe’s clan system. At this conference is when I first learned to bead (pictured right is the first thing I’ve ever beaded from the conference).Beading is healing and at the time I didn’t know how badly I needed it.
Now it’s 6 years later, I am confident in my Indigeneity and share my beadwork online. When I first started to share my beadwork on social media, I was scared and felt very vulnerable. As beading was such a huge process in figuring out my identity, it was overwhelming to share my work with strangers. I remember the first time I got some traction on TikTok and how exciting it was to get 63 likes. I only received compliments and was encouraged to create an Etsy. I switched from beading things that I considered aesthetic to things that brought me joy and challenged myself to non-traditional designs. This last June I finished my Master’s in Communication (emphasis in cultural communication) and was able to share my process of beading my cap as well as a medallion of my school’s logo (pictured left is a selfie with some of my graduation beadwork). Something about this project led to me wanting to really do something big.
As a Scorpio, it’s only natural that I am obsessed with Halloween. Since I got my Lunchbox in May 2022, I have kept that spooky theme with orange, purple, and white lightshow wires, a pumpkin light up necklace from the dollar store, and a kandi chain with spooky colors. I’ve seen so many cool customization that I became obsessed with finding different ways to elevate the look of my bag. When I found out that lunchbox made blank skins for DIYs, I knew I had to get my hands on one or two. At first, I planned to paint it. I’ve always been artistic and crafty, so I didn’t feel worried about the process. But because of the mix of wanting to challenge my creativity and the inspiration of Halloween, I decided at the beginning of October that I would start my biggest bead project yet and bead the skin instead of painting it.
I actually started a second masters at the end of September, so I told myself that I’d take my time and I didn’t need to rush this like I typically do with my beading projects. My birthday was at the end of the month, I had some finals due, and this was all during Boo! Halloween weekend so I was really busy anyways, but then Lunchbox announced their Halloween Contest. I panicked at first to be honest, but I love a challenge so I full sent it. I spent two weeks beading in my free time outside of my classes/homework and I estimate that I spend at least 48 hours in total. On November 1st, I stayed up ‘till 4am completing the skin before work and officially finished the largest bead project I’ve done andnow I can’t help but think about what I will bead next for the second DIY skin I have.
@heleena.sue I am so happy to be finished!!! @lunchboxpacks #lunchboox #beadworktiktok #Indigneous #navajo #nativetiktok #beadwork #nativeamerican #nativebeadwork ♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim
Feel free to follow my TikTok where I post most of my beading project @heleena.sue and check out my Etsy @heleenasbeading where I post mostly beaded earrings.