This article is the second in a series featuring an artist exhibiting at the DubuqueFest Art Fair in Washington Park on May 19-20, 2012. Click here to read other Artist Profiles.

By Pamela Brandt

Shauna Zeck, of BeadSpirit Designs in Waterloo, Iowa, is in her 5th year as a DubuqueFest Art Fair exhibitor. Drawing inspiration from her native American heritage, she creates necklaces, earrings, and bracelets using semi-precious gemstones, freshwater pearls, and sometimes wood, in addition to traditional seed beads.

With a heritage rumored to be Lakota Sioux on her mom’s side, and Cree/Delaware on her dad’s side, her art career began 18 years ago with traditional beadwork. “I was doing beaded moccasins and bags, and I have my own traditional northern style regalia that I dance in at powwows. Over the years it evolved into a contemporary line of jewelry, but still keeping the traditional techniques so that it would speak to more people.”Pejuta Tasunka Wakan (Horse medicine) by Shauna Zeck

As a full-time artist, Shauna travels to a number of different art shows, and her pieces are featured on her website, in regional galleries, and in boutiques on the west coast. “I love doing the beadwork – it’s like breathing to me. I can’t go very long without beading.”

She has managed to intertwine heritage, art, and motherhood. “I am very blessed. I consider myself extremely lucky to work – even though it’s not work –  from home, to be at home with my son.” Her son, age 6 1/2, will dance his first powwow this spring. “I love what I do. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. I tell people I live necklace to necklace. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Shauna Zeck in traditional native American powwow regaliaAt this year’s DubuqueFest Art Fair, Shauna will display her exquisitely crafted necklaces, earring, bracelets. She is also open to special orders outside the jewelry line, taking requests for beadwork on denim or leather jackets, or on personal medicine bags.

Her new work features inlaid stones, a technique which involves drilling out pieces of turquoise or gemstone, in order to adhere them to a necklace pendant, for instance. “And the seed beadwork that I’m doing in my pieces, those techniques are very special. There are several that I use that are used in traditional native American ceremonial items.”

One ceremonial stitches that she uses is the peyote stitch. “And the edge beadwork I do is done on the tops of cedar and tobacco bags. So there’s a lot of history in the type of beadwork that I’m doing although the styles are very contemporary. The history behind the techniques makes it more exciting. They are all one of a kind pieces. I will never duplicate, nor do I want to duplicate any piece I’ve ever done.”

Shauna looks forward enthusiastically to the third weekend in May. “I think DubuqueFest is awesome. I love it. I think it’s gotten better and better. I think Paula [Art Fair Director Paula Neuhaus] has been doing a phenomenal job.”

To festival goers, she advises, “Come with an open mind and an open heart. Artists live by their hearts, not their heads, and when you’re looking at someone’s art, it comes from inside them, so it’s a very special thing.”

Learn more by searching for for BeadSpirit Designs on Facebook. You can enjoy the handcrafted, native American inspired jewelry of Shauna Zeck and BeadSpirit Designs at Washington Park during the DubuqueFest Art Fair, May 19-20, 2012.