FARMINGTON — While sitting at a table covered in beadwork supplies, Verrona Cardinal led a workshop to introduce students and employees to the art today at San Juan College.

Cardinal, a sophomore sociology student at San Juan College from the Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada, started beadworking 19 years ago and uses her skills on powwow regalia, jewelry and crowns.

"This is what I've always done. It's a passion," she said during the workshop inside the college's Native American Center, which hosted a week's worth of activities in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

The class was open to students, staff and faculty, and participants received one-on-one instruction from Cardinal, who taught the lazy stitch technique on stiffened felt.

This was the first time Marcie Suneson, a student and staff member at the college's bookstore, tried her hand at beadwork.

"The reason why I attended was because I thought it would be something I would like to learn how to do," she said while placing blue beads on a needle.

One of the challenges was keeping the beads parallel, she said.

Throughout the workshop, Cardinal provided helpful tips about technique and shared stories about her father, who also does beadwork.

She talked about how happy she felt when her father approved of her beadwork designs and skills.

"He was proud I finally got it," Cardinal said.

She also showed her latest project — leggings for her niece's jingle dress which were designed in two large flower patterns and sewn in various shades of pink beads.

Charlotte Collins, who works in the college's library, started beading on a loom five years ago.

"I love learning new techniques in beadwork. I'm fascinated with it, learning different ways of doing beadwork," she said.

She attended the class because she likes talking with others about the craft, including about supplies and techniques.

"I want to finish my product and take it with me because now I know what I need to do," she said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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