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Keeping busy with jewelry
Fort Resolution's Herbie L. Beaulieu makes earrings, bracelets and more

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 10, 2014

About three decades ago, Herbie L. Beaulieu of Fort Resolution learned to make jewelry, and he has been creating it ever since as a craft and even occasionally selling some of it.

NNSL photo/graphic

Herbie L. Beaulieu is a part-time jewelry maker in Fort Resolution. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"I just picked it up on my own," he recalled. "I just kept doing it and doing it."

Beaulieu said he started making jewelry while living in British Columbia using abalone shells, which is a type of seashell.

In fact, he still makes jewelry, particularly earrings, using abalone shells, although he admitted, "I don't make as much as I should."

Plus, he makes a variety of bracelets, necklaces, key chains and more out of abalone shells, and caribou and moose antler and bone.

"It's just my own style of handcrafted native jewelry," he said.

Beaulieu's favourite jewelry to make is earrings.

"Because they are fast," he explained. "Some of the stuff takes me three or four days to make, and then I sell them for 20 bucks."

Plus, he said earrings are the favourites among potential buyers, although he noted he doesn't sell much jewelry in Fort Resolution, which he said is too small.

Beaulieu doesn't even sell his jewelry in any stores. Instead, he said he sells some privately to friends and acquaintances, and also when travelling to Yellowknife and in the south, including Edmonton and Vancouver.

"I just go around and go to businesses, or go to restaurants, and I ask them if they want to buy," he said.

His craftwork sells under the business name jewelry Chinyeah Spring.

Beaulieu said there are a number of reasons he makes jewelry.

"I make extra money and I like doing it," he said. "I like meeting people, and I get to meet lots of people through this."

Plus, the 65-year-old noted he is a pensioner, and creates jewelry for something to do.

"It keeps me busy," he said. "Otherwise I wouldn't be doing anything."

Although born in Fort Resolution, Beaulieu said he left when he was just barely a teenager.

"I've done a lot of things. I left home when I was 13 years old," he said, listing some of his jobs in various places as a country music performer, a construction worker, a carpenter's help, a millwright and a mine worker.

"I was always working, but then at night-time I do something else, and this is what I learned how to do," he said, nodding toward the jewelry spread out on his kitchen table. "I just picked this up on my own."

Beaulieu, who is Metis, said he returned to his home community in 1995, and has since been living in a small house on the shore of Great Slave Lake.

That is where he now creates his jewelry on a small desk, which he jokingly referred to as his office.

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