Beadwork combines business with friendship

Terrio, Rudesill use Indigenous crafting techniques from thousands of years ago
Lynn Zaffrann

Using the centuries-old art of Native American beading, Jennifer Terrio and Colleen Rudesill have built both a thriving crafting business and a close friendship.

Their crafting partnership is called Best Budz Beads. They are great friends, and their friendship seems to have blossomed along with their love of beading.

Terrio, of Keshena, and Rudesill, of Gresham, both learned to bead in the same ways that have been passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years.

Terrio learned beading from a cousin, when she was about 12 years old.

“She started showing me how to bead. Through the years, I went to classes in Bowler and they showed me things, as well,” Terrio said.

She noted that she wasn’t as good back then, but that, even now, it takes continued practice to be able to bead.

“For me, it’s therapy. I enjoy it; I bead until I can’t bead no more,” Terrio said.

According to Rudesill, her collaboration with Terrio started around 2014. Having gone to the same school and known each other for years, Rudesill connected with Terrio on Facebook, and the rest is history.

“We always get together, and we call it our little sweatshop,” Terrio said.

Rudesill said that she started beading in school.

“Then, I met my husband,” she said. “His sisters used to bead a lot. They showed me things, too.”

Both of them shared that they have learned so much from other people. They said that other beaders do different work that gives them more techniques to learn and perfect.

Among the resources that help Terrio and Rudesill to continue to improve on their beading knowledge and give them inspiration are various beading sites on Facebook that they have joined.

“You can ask questions about certain stitches,” Rudesill said, “and people help you out.”

They also said that they work so well with each other that they can put their heads together to come up with a solution to any bead work difficulty.

Terrio said that it can take hours and hours to complete a beading project. She mentioned that seeing other beaders’ work at craft shows gives them a chance to learn some easier steps in working on a particular item.

Rudesill said that some of her items are drawn out on paper before the project is started.

“When you first get an order, you need to think about how you’re going to do it, think about the pattern, have to figure out what beads you want to use. There’s just a lot to it,” Rudesill said.

The Best Budz duo doesn’t work with the wooden or bone beads used thousands of years ago. Rudesill and Terrio often source the beads they use from the NEW Beads and Jewelry Store in Green Bay and Noc Bay Trading Co. online store. They do a lot of ordering online to take advantage of bulk pricing. Another source for beads was secured from someone they met at a craft fair.

Rudesill and Terrio are hard-pressed to identify which of their products is the most popular. Rudesill said that maybe earrings are most popular for her, either post or dangles. She also does a lot of dream catchers and lanyards. Terrio added that they will do whatever people ask for.

Recently, they showed their beading crafts in the Menominee Convention Center in Keshena during the Tribal Career Fair on June 20.

“It was great,” Terrio said. “A lot of nice people came through.”

Terrio and Rudesill also took part in the Winter Market in Keshena and were recognized there, which led to an invitation to participate in the career fair craft show.

The pair are able to fill two long tables, and sometimes more, with the amount and variety of their wares.

They participated in the craft fair at the Art Walk in the Woods in St. Germain on June 8. Rudesill said that they were the only beaders at that fair. They also showed at the St. Germain Flea Market in late May.

“We did pretty good up there,” Rudesill said.

They are scheduled to take part in the Bear River Pow Wow in Lac du Flambeau on July 12-14.

Rudesill mentioned that they have been busier lately.

“I’ve even had some dream catchers shipped to Las Vegas,” Rudesill said.

They are looking toward the future to expand their partnership and considering opening a bead store someday, since there are no local shops.

“Hopefully, someday it’s a reality,” Terrio said. “That is a goal to reach some day. It’s nice to think about.”

For information, they have a Facebook page titled Best Budz Beads.