Artist uses age-old Native American techniques to create contemporary jewelry

Shauna Zeck’s contemporary Native American-influenced jewelry is on display at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. Zeck, of BeadSpirits Design, draws inspiration from her family’s Aboriginal heritage to create contemporary jewelry using traditional techniques, including peyote stitch.

CEDAR FALLS – Influenced by her Lakota Sioux, Cree, and Delaware heritage, Shauna Zeck fashions one-of-a-kind contemporary jewelry from semi-precious stones, mixed metals, mother-of-pearl, and other natural materials using traditional Native American techniques .

Necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings are in such demand that they are often sold out before leaving her workbench. The artist’s work has been featured in galleries, art exhibitions and in several publications, including the September issue of Cowboys and Indians magazine.

Contemporary Native American-inspired jewelry made by Shauna Zeck of BeadSpirit Designs using traditional techniques is now on display at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.


A new collection of 20 pieces is on display until November 6 at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. She will also be participating in the WCA’s Holiday Arts Festival on November 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s a love that I liken to breathing. I truly, absolutely, and sincerely love what I do, and I count my blessings every day. I’m grateful that I was able to reach this point in my work,” said Zeck, owner of BeadSpirit Design in Cedar Falls.

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Zeck, born in Iowa City, began learning to bead about 28 years ago, making moccasins, Nordic-style powwow badges, ceremonial fans and rattles. She studied the history of native beading styles and stitching and began incorporating stones into her pieces, including turquoise, jasper, prairie agate and carnelian.

“I like the balance of respecting traditional methods of beading and ceremonial sewing, but in a contemporary design. I’m self-taught – with a lot of trial and error,” Zeck said with a laugh. started, you couldn’t figure out how to Google or watch YouTube videos. It was meeting people along the way, teachers and guides from here and elsewhere, watching and learning by doing.

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Shauna Zeck is influenced by her Lakota Sioux, Cree and Delaware heritage to create unique contemporary jewelry using traditional Native American techniques.


“There is always room to grow, develop and learn, which will hopefully lead to something new.”

Finding his own voice was vital. “There are thousands of pearls there. What will set you apart? You must seek this inspiration within yourself.

Throughout the creative process, she lets the material speak to her. “I know artists who get caught up and spend days in the design process. I want to dive into it. The stones speak to me, and I let the piece emerge.

Its large, elaborate necklaces and intricate seed bead cuffs require “a little more thought and planning. That’s part of the challenge, and not all of the pieces play out the way I saw them in my head. Sometimes I have to give up that control,” Zeck explained.

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Turquoise is Shauna Zeck’s favorite gemstone when creating her BeadSpirit Designs jewelry. “It’s natural and classic in Native American designs,” she said. “It never goes out of style.”


Turquoise is her favorite gemstone. “It’s natural and classic in Native American designs. It’s trendy, timeless and incomparable. For generations, grandmothers and grandfathers have passed down turquoise jewelry in their families, and families still wear it. It never goes out of style.

She often names her collections and individual pieces, for example, “Wild Horse”, “Grandmother Moon”, “Winged Ones”, “Spirit Flows”, “Twilight Wolf” and “Healing Heart”.

“It makes a piece more meaningful if you have a story to share, or draw inspiration from different nations and perspectives of Indigenous pieces,” the artist explained.

When the COVID pandemic forced the cancellation of art shows and festivals across the Midwest, Zeck spent time building his successful brand at and growing his presence. on social networks on Facebook, Instagram and through videos.

The artist has been commissioned to create a centerpiece for the permanent collection of Midwestern art at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, Chawne Paige said.

“We wanted Shauna’s work to be represented in our collection. She has participated in the Holiday Arts Festival for several years. We have seen his work flourish in a masterful approach that incorporates a variety of techniques.

“Ultimately, we wanted to feature her work in an exhibition and have this talented local artist represented in our museum’s collection,” Paige explained.

Zeck was flattered. “I was surprised at first. It was humbling and exciting. I spent the next seven months working on a collection of 20 pieces. It was a push to get everything done, and I was uploading pictures of what I was working on, and people were buying the pieces before I was done,” she said.

“I told them they had their pieces in time for Christmas, but right now they’re in display cases at the art center.”

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