The Métis are known as “The Flower Beadwork People,” and their traditional garments are decorated with floral artwork. This European folk art was taught to the Métis by the Grey Nuns, in the form of silk thread embroidery. Prior to that, our Grandmothers created art using porcupine quills on hide, and painting with ochre on hide. When seed beads were brought to Canada as trades goods, the Métis put them to use in the same floral designs that they had become so skilled at. This is why you’ll find authentic floral beadwork on all Lisa Shepherd, Métis Artist designs. The work demonstrates a respect for nature and the teachings passed down by the Old People.
Made exclusively in Canada, these heirloom pieces are created using traditional Métis practices and materials. They are 100% eco-friendly. No machines or electricity are used. Every item is hand-stitched, hand-beaded, and a unique piece of Métis art.
Every item is custom designed by Lisa Shepherd, Métis Artist. If you are interested in commissioning Lisa to create a one-of-a kind heirloom piece, please message her through the CONTACT page.
MOSSBAGS A mossbag is a baby carrier. Spagnum moss was used in the bag as absorbent material to keep the baby dry and comfortable. The baby’s mossbag welcomes the baby. It is an heirloom piece to be passed from one sibling to the next and then onto the next generation. These are functional items but certainly also art pieces with strong cultural connection.
MOCCASINS Pointed toe moccasins are the original Métis style moccasins, but you may opt for a more rounded toe. Every pair of moccasins is designed from your foot tracing, so they are a custom fit.
The pointed toe pair shown below with the white ribbons is made of smoke tanned moose hide that took ten days to soak, flesh, scrape, smoke and soften. Wrapped horsehair adorns the outside of the moccasin vamp, in two hand-dyed rows of green and one of red. Horsehair wrapping is a very old traditional art that is rarely done today. Organza ribbon ties at the front over black velveteen and the cuffs are lined in "kookum print" (granny print) cotton fabric, all reminiscent of the trade goods that traveled to New Caledonia (British Columbia) in the early days when the Métis moved product for the Northwest Trading Company and the Hudson Bay Company.
SCISSOR POCKETS From the 19th through to the early 20th century, wall pockets were a favourite way to decorate and organize the interior of Métis homes. They were not only ornate, but also practical as they neatly stored away sewing supplies, household tools or paperwork. Scissor pockets are most often created using beads, tufted caribou hair, wrapped horse hair and porcupine quills, or some combination of.
GAUNTLET MITTENS Each pair of Métis beaded gauntlet mittens are beaded in traditional style but brought into contemporary times, in celebration of our on-going story. As people of today, we can look to the past and continue our distinct art style to mark our place in time for future generations.
A rare find, the mittens shown below are the most elaborate pair of gauntlet mittens that Lisa has created to date. The highest quality materials were used: a warm double layer of 100% wool Melton, 3-cut glass beads to catch the light, kookum print cotton cuff lining, beaver fur trim, and smoke tanned moose hide for the twisted fringe.
SMOKING HATS Smoking hats were originally worn by men in order to keep the smell of smoke out of their hair, while displaying the artwork of the Métis. Today, they are worn for special occasion by all people, to show pride in our culture.
FIREBAGS The Métis firebag design with eight tabs (four in front and four behind) was embraced across the prairies, up into the Yukon and down into the west coast of British Columbia. It was there that the coastal First Nations people saw it and began to call it an Octopus Bag. That name traveled back across the prairies, and it is still called Octopus Bag by the Métis people today.
OTHER CUSTOM PIECES If you have an idea for a special heirloom piece you'd like to commission Lisa to create for you, please reach out to her through the CONTACT page.