Akok Adjun spends many of her evenings at her kitchen table, a fishing tackle box full of colourful beads open across from her.

It’s how she enjoys whiling away the hours, crafting necklaces made with intricate beadwork.

This collection of beadwork necklaces is the handiwork of Akok Adjun of Kugluktuk. She taught herself how to bead about three years ago.
photos courtesy of Akok Adjun

This time of year, she has more requests than usual due to Christmas drawing close. She even has a gift order from a fellow in Alaska.

“I have an Instagram page where I feature all my beadwork. He contacted me through my Instagram page,” she says.

It’s not the first time her work has drawn international attention. Some of her necklaces adorned models’ necks on a catwalk in Paris when Nunavut designer Victoria Kakuktinniq held a show in the French capital in 2019.

A necklace usually takes Adjun two to three nights to complete, devoting about four or five hours per night to the project.

She learned the art of beading on her own. She Googled beaded necklace patterns about three years ago and studied how it’s done.

“And I just went from there. I taught myself how to bead,” she says. “I say if you want to learn how to bead, just bead. There are so many beaders out there that you can reach out to. Instagram is a really great platform to look at for inspiration … there’s a lot of great artists out there who are willing to help you.”

Akok Adjun holds a necklace that she created for a wedding over the summer. She fashions her pieces at her kitchen table.

The process involves closely following a colour pattern and stitching one or two beads into place at a time.

“You need all your attention and devotion just so that you don’t get mixed up,” she says. “You don’t want to get mixed up and add an extra bead or a different coloured bead when you’re sewing.”

However, if a mistake is made, she can go back and undo it.

Her supply of beads come from shops in Edmonton and British Columbia. They come in numerous varieties, but her preferred type for necklaces are round, as opposed to multi-sided ones, which are better suited for earrings. She’s planning to expand the accessories she makes, eyeing earring patterns online and considering key-chains as well.

As with most hobbies, too much of a good thing can take its toll. If she spends a lot of hours beading, her index finger, thumb and her shoulders get sore.

“That’s when my body is telling me that I need to get up and move, to get some muscles flowing,” she says.

Another “hazard” of the pastime is having beads fall from her fingertips, or worse.

“I’ve had beads spilling all over the floor more than a couple times,” she laughs. “It’s not fun looking on the floor, crawling on all fours looking for beads.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *