Collection Highlight

Mel Beaulieu’s Tools of the Maker

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Looking at an artists desk, a beaded work in progress is surrounded by their tools, including jars of colourful beads, scissors, a pin cushion, and a smudge bowl.

Mel Beaulieu’s Tools of the Maker

In 2023, the Owens commissioned Mel Beaulieu to make a new work for the Collection. The resulting work, Tools of the Maker, 2024 was made over the course of eleven months using single stitch techniques, sewing one bead down at a time. This intricate snapshot of the artist’s studio shows a work in progress surrounded by their tools, including jars of colourful beads, scissors, a pin cushion, and a smudge bowl. The landscape outside the window connects the creative process back to the gifts of the land, and offers a new perspective on traditional Indigenous creative practices in contemporary art.

With a practice rooted in world building, both in beadwork and virtual reality, the artist describes the scene as “a person beading what they see out the window when really… they are beading, and that becomes what they see”.

Mel Beaulieu (They/Them) is a member of Metepenagiag First Nation, living and working in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Their beadwork practice blends traditional art with contemporary and pop culture themes, to present an image of Indigenous culture that is alive and always evolving.

Interview with Mel Beaulieu

Explore a high-resolution image of Tools of the Maker

Mel Beaulieu, Tools of the Maker, 2024, 11/0 seed beads on stiffened felt. 45 x 45 cm. Commissioned and purchased with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Blanche Peppard Art Acquisition Fund. Photo: Roger J. Smith.

Mouse over or tap the image above to see the beadwork zoomed in

See Tools of the Maker unfold over time

While creating Tools of the Maker, Mel Beaulieu documented the process on their Instagram account @the.beads.knees. These images document their entire process from initial sketch, to beading section by section, one stitch at a time, to finally placing the last bead.