The universe in beads: Margaret Nazon's unique artwork

An artist in Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., uses beadwork to depict galaxies, nebulas and more, inspired by the cosmic imagery of the Hubble telescope.

Artist in Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., uses beadwork to depict galaxies, nebulas and more

The Tadpole Galaxy is in the Draco constellation and 420 million light-years from Earth. This is Margaret Nazon's version in beads. (Margaret Nazon/Nomad Designs)

Margaret Nazon of Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., recently held a contest. She wanted to see if people would recognize the subject of her latest beadwork. 

The winning answer: "ARP 147 or Double Ring Galaxies in Cetus."

It took four days for someone to find the answer. But it's obvious if you've seen the image from the Hubble telescope. 

Nazon's beadwork is inspired by celestial images.

In this case, ARP 147 refers to a colourful pair of galaxies more than 400 light-years from Earth. The Hubble image shows one scintillating ring of blue light next to a thinner pink-hued oval. These sparkling colours and shapes inspire Nazon's beadwork. 

"It's free-form beadwork," Nazon says. "It's mostly galaxies and nebulas and other cosmic images. I don't use one size of bead, I use all different sizes, just to emphasize the colours and interesting details." 

Nazon's work is inspired by images of the Hubble telescope. (submitted by Margaret Nazon)

The idea goes back to 2008 when Nazon first saw the Hubble telescope images online. She immediately thought the stars looked like her Gwich'in beadwork. 

"I was so impressed that I thought I should at least attempt it," she said. 

Nazon says she likes the creativity of the work and especially how it allows her to use different beads in abstract patterns.

"It's not like making moccasins. I can just go wild."

So far, Nazon has exhibited her work at the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, as well as various galleries in Alberta, Ontario, B.C., Yukon and N.W.T.

Nazon's version of ARP 147, a colourful pair of galaxies more than 400 light-years from Earth. (Margaret Nazon/Nomad Designs)

with files from Wanda McLeod