Why Angela Gonzalez shares her 'beading bliss' tutorials online

To many, beading work might be a way to pass the time. But to Angela Gonzalez, beading is medicine. That's part of what motivated her to start teaching beading in YouTube videos and on Twitter.
Angela Gonzalez shares her 'beading bliss' with people all over the world with her blog, Athabasca Woman's Blog. (Ermelina Gonzalez, Angela Gonzalez/Supplied)

To many, beading work might be a way to pass the time. But to Angela Gonzalez, beading is medicine.

"I've really been going through, I would say, this beading and healing journey," said Gonzalez, an Athabascan woman based in Anchorage, Alaska. "It means so much to me, and I just feel the power."

But as she started posting tutorial videos to her blog, Athabascan Woman, she realized she wasn't the only person who thought of beading as medicine.

"There are people who are maybe adopted out at a young age — they appreciate learning more about their culture," Gonzalez said.

She posted a series of how-to beading and sewing videos that show viewers how to create traditional Indigenous works and clothing.

A 15 minute video on how to sew fur trim onto slippers or moccasins may not seem like must-see TV — but Gonzalez knows the videos serve a particular audience.

Although she also teaches community-based classed, Gonzalez's reach has expanded beyond the Anchorage city limits. Since she started posting her videos, they've been seen by people all over North America and parts of Europe.

She has hosted the Twitter account, @Indigenousbeads, which is hosted by a different beader every week and where they share their experiences with beading and how it intersects with their lives.

The work has given Gonzalez the chance to learn from other beaders from different cultures — and to feel the camaraderie from other beaders across Canada and the world.

Gonzalez will sometimes sell the slippers, but loves to give them out as gifts — which she finds more rewarding. (Angela Gonzalez/Supplied)

"I appreciate learning their techniques and just also hearing their stories," she said.

When Gonzalez beads, she feels connection to her grandmother, who taught her how to bead. It was a gift that her grandmother gave her — which inspires Gonzalez to pay it forward. She calls it "beading bliss."

She sells her work sometimes, but often gives it away to family and friends. In return, she says, she receives their love and appreciation.

For those she can't give her work to, she gives her knowledge and techniques in the form of how-to videos.

"That's such a special gift to give somebody," she said. "[Especially] when so many of our cultures have sharing as a value."