skip to Main Content

Beads as Seeds of Expression: The Beaded Medallion

In this three-day workshop, you will explore the various types of materials, intricate techniques, and sources of inspiration employed by master beadwork artist Jennifer Ben, Diné (Navajo), whose expression of our world takes on shimmering and colorful life in her exquisitely executed one of a kind works.

Using quality materials such as Swarovski crystals and Czechoslovakian glass cut beads, you will receive detailed, hands-on instruction and demonstrations as you learn how to create a medallion necklace and embellish it utilizing ornamentation techniques such as beaded fringing and necklace stringing. You will leave the workshop with a beaded expression of your personal style.

Historically, medallions embellished traditional clothing. Today this form of personal adornment has evolved into a popular trend among all tribes who use beads and beadwork to express oneself. Students will have the opportunity to explore concepts ranging from floral designs to pop art motifs as they learn how to transform these beaded medallions into wearable art.

To ensure you graduate from this class with a completed project, you are advised to come to class on the first day with some sketched out ideas of what you would like to create. In addition, you will be advised to work on your project during the evenings. There will be ongoing informal critiques throughout the workshop to support completion and success for all students.

  • Sketches/design concepts, approximate sizing: 3×3 inches.
  • Additional beads to incorporate into project
  • Lamp for extra lighting
  • Reading glasses or lamp with magnification

Jennifer Ben (Diné) is from Shiprock, NM, and is a multidimensional artist. Her first medium was as a classical cellist leading to composition and sound production. Her passion lies in the land and finding creative ways to express her love for nature and its resonance. Throughout her time working in agriculture, Ben uses beadwork to tell these stories of the land and plants. Jennifer has worked extensively as an artist in residence and demonstrator at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and has participated in the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market. Her work reflects her various passions, such as music, food sovereignty, traditional farming methodologies, and Diné philosophy, her inspiration is grounded in how agricultural fields interact with one another, creating a story unique to her experiences.

Native American & Inland Empire Teacher Scholarships

Generous donors have made scholarships and fellowships for adult workshops available on a limited basis for these specific groups:

  1. Native American Community Leaders, Artists, Members, and Teachers
  2. Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

Scholarships include tuition, dorm housing, and all meals provided by the campus dining service.

Scholarship Details:

  1. Native American Community Members, Leaders, Artists, and Teachers
    For adults 19 and older with current tribal affiliation, the scholarship brings community leaders, artists, members, and teachers to workshops at Idyllwild Arts to benefit both the scholarship recipients themselves and those in their schools or tribal communities. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. We also offer scholarships for Native American Teens for both the Summer Program and the Academy.
  2. Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students
    For teachers and graduate students from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and the adjacent areas), this scholarship brings teachers and graduate students to Idyllwild Arts to attend Native American Arts workshops. The Native American Arts Workshops benefit both recipients and their students and communities, providing culturally appropriate instruction and professional development to teachers and graduate students. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

    Click here for more information about adult scholarships.

19 years and above

January 3-5, 2023
Three day session

Tuition, room, and board:

Day student tuition:

Lab Fee:
$80, includes beads, beading thread, needles, beading mat, personal tools, leather backing and Pelon material, paper, pencil, marking pens.

Skill Level:
All levels

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Jennifer Ben

Back To Top