Oklahoma Contemporary
Photo by Stephanie Montelongo
A detail image of a person doing beadwork

New Light

Oct. 20, 2020

#AtHomeArt: By a String

Learn the basics of beadwork with this fun DIY project inspired by artist Shelby Rowe
A masked figure demonstrates beadwork for children and families in an outdoor setting
Chickasaw artist Shelby Rowe demonstrates her beadwork at Oklahoma Contemporary's Second Saturday event in October. (Photo by Stephanie Montelongo.)

#AtHomeArt projects from Youth and Family staff. Sponsored by SONIC Drive-In.

Visitors to October's Second Saturday event might have been impressed by the intricate beadwork of Shelby Rowe, but it was only three years ago that the Chickasaw artist bought her first loom. Her work is now featured in 10 exhibitions across the country, including The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. "People say, 'I could never do that,' and I thought I could never do it either. But if you love something, you can do it!"

In that spirit, today's #AtHomeArt project gives you a chance to learn the ropes of an art form Rowe calls "an expression of mending brokenness." Using beading templates designed by the artist, today's project offers step-by-step instructions on making your own keyring adornment using everyday items.

Ready to try your hand at something new? Here's what you'll need to get started.

A family works on a bead project while sitting outdoors
Second Saturday: Indigenous Voices at Oklahoma Contemporary. (Photo by Stephanie Montelongo.)



  1. Fold your string in half.
  2. Put the loop of your string through the keyring.
  3. Pull remaining string through the loop and pull tight.
  4. Review the order of beads on your bead pattern from right to left.
  5. Add beads to the right string in the same order as the first row on your bead pattern.
  6. Feed the left string through the same beads as the right string.
  7. Pull both strings tight until the beads are up against the hoop.
  8. Repeat the process for each line of your bead pattern
  9. Once finished, tie off each end with a knot.

Looking for more fun DIY art projects? Check out our #AtHomeArt archives for family-friendly activities designed to spark creativity, from stop-motion animation to digital photography and more. As always, be sure to share your creations with us on social media using #AtHomeArt!

Tags tags
AtHomeArt Second Saturday Shelby Rowe beadwork Native American art

Return to New Light.


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

see additional holidays


Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

Newsletter Signup

Join our mailing list to learn about our events, exhibitions, education and more.