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Thomas Stillday, Jr. mixes unique stitching techniques with a distinct choice of colors to distinguish his beadwork style.

He has made work using the lazy stitch style of beading mixed with appliqué flatwork. He currently uses appliqué flatwork beadwork to create unique Ojibwe designs on bandolier bags.

About the Artist

Thomas Stillday, Jr. was born to bead. For 40 years he has taken the traditional beading techniques, designs and concepts of his grandmother, mother and father to develop a distinct and personal style of work.

From an early age he traveled to powwows with his family and was always checking out other people’s beadwork. This sparked a burning desire inside him to create and design his own intricate pieces.

Today he travels all over to powwows looking for new ways to improve his work. He is proud to represent his culture, and does so in his beadwork that incorporates distinctive Ojibwe patterns highlighting his tribal affiliation.

Thomas mixes newer beads and unique color choices with beads of the past to create beautiful Ojibwe beadwork. He is currently working to bring back big beaded bags, which is a style that Anishinaabe people were known for. Through beadwork he strives to present his unique style and personal vision, while constantly thinking of colors and designs that recognize the traditional Ojibwe floral patterns.

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About the Organization

Manidoo Ogitgaan’s mission is to work with our communities to preserve and revitalize the Spiritual knowledge, language, culture, and ceremonies of the Anishinaabeg to improve their health and the health of their ecological family.

For the community, I like to show that we still keep our traditions. Right now people are doing fancy beadwork, I would call it, and I'm sticking to the old-style Ojibwe work that Ojibwes were known for.

Thomas Stillday, Jr.

Art In This Present Moment

This project is part of Art in This Present Moment, an initiative of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, with funding from the McKnight Foundation. We provided grants to three Minnesota-based nonprofit organizations to fund work by BIPOC artists who are changing and challenging dominant narratives through their craft.

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