Saturday, 18 March 2017

Afternoon at the Museum

Last Wednesday, I took my daughter Layne (7), her friend Lucy, and Xander (4) to the Fort Frances Museum to take part in a beading workshop that was being put on by the Métis Nation of Ontario. The hosts—Sabrina and Linda—were wonderful at explaining the process, and providing expert assistance as we stumbled our way through our first attempt at beading.

It's been a very long time since I've worked with a needle and thread, but thanks to the home economics program that I took part in when I was in grade 8, it didn't take long to get comfortable. The process itself was beyond Xander's ability, so the two of us worked as a team: he would place the bead on the needle, and I would thread it though the felt. We had a pretty good system going, and as I tacked each bead in place, he would get the next one ready.

The steps were clearly laid out for us on these diagrams, with Linda explaining how to tack the first circle of beads, and then the "two-bead" method for the remainder of the pattern.

Lucy and Layne struggled when they missed a stitch, or poked themselves in the finger, or pulled the thread out of the needle—which was the worst because threading the eye of the needle can be a feat in itself. But it was worth it. With a little help, some snacks, and a healthy amount of perseverance, we were each able to create a beaded key chain.

Compared to one of the exemplars, it's clear that we could use some more practice ;)

After we finished, we took some time to explore the displays of local history, and this "Fire Bag" put what we had accomplished into perspective. Both girls and I were amazed at the size, detail, and the amount of time and patience it must have taken to complete such a beautiful piece.

On our way out we stopped to explore the Freemasonry exhibit on the main floor when it hit me that I need to spend more time learning and documenting our family history. I told my kids that they're great-grandfather (my grandfather) was a Mason, but I really don't know anything else about his involvement. However, I'm really happy that they had this opportunity to experience a traditional Métis activity. It's been a while since I've done any research on our family's histories, which I need to do while our parents and my wife's grandparents are able to pass on their knowledge and stories.

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