Sacred Arrow Productions
Dan Thayer of the Southern Cheyenne Nation felt a calling to learn about the “old ways” of his culture, sending him down a historical rabbit hole of Western tradition and inspiring an array of beadwork art pieces he now sells with his wife, Brenda.
Dan’s beadwork adorns leather bags, pouches, sheaths and the like using bright colors and precise detail to reference tribal stories from the Southern Cheyenne. One bag can take days to finish, each tiny bead stringed on one at a time.
“I tried to learn as much as I could… and I just kept developing it. Now I’m doing bags that incorporate some of our tribal stories into a piece of art,” said Dan.
The trade was passed along to Dan from his grandmother, and he taught himself new techniques from studying the work of others. As a disabled veteran, Dan finds that the activity is relaxing and fosters a deep connection to Western history, in which he has become recognized as an expert.
“He’s one of the top interpreters around. There isn’t anybody that can beat him on knowing the history,” said Brenda, who also contributes to the beadwork and art sold through Sacred Arrow. The business is truly a family operation, as Dan and Brenda’s son, Duel, constructs plush characters through sewing and crochet that can also be found at their shop.
Based out of Ennis, the Sacred Arrow Productions booth can be spotted at the Big Sky Farmers Market every Wednesday, along with other markets around the Mountain West, sharing their Cheyenne heritage one beaded bag or plush critter at a time.
Antler Creek Wildlife Creations
Bryan Mackie of Antler Creek Wildlife Creations doesn’t consider himself retired or unemployed, but rather “fun-employed.” The former engineer and Bozeman native stepped into the art world full time four years ago and hasn’t looked back since, crafting functional art from elk and deer antlers for fans to enjoy in their homes.
From his famous antler dog toys, to elegant antler chandeliers, table candleholders and even full-sized tables, you’ll probably be hard-set to walk into a Big Sky home without one of his pieces. For visitors to the area, he says, people love his smaller, packable creations, such as bottle openers, wall hooks and cribbage boards, so they can bring home a little piece of Big Sky with them to remember their trip by.
Mackie was an antler collector and grew tired of selling them. After seeing antler crafts many years ago, he decided to try his hand at the art, starting off by finishing his first antler table. Today, he gathers 10 percent of his sheds himself, buys some off of other local collectors, and will buy from national brokers if necessary but aims to stick local whenever possible.
“I think it’s kind of unique to the area and definitely a unique piece,” Makie said of his antler creations. “Even the little stuff—at the market I have a lot of little items that people can take home, like a piece of an antler, or something made from an antler—something representative of Big Sky country.”
Stop by the Big Sky Farmers Market to see Mackie’s creations, or visit antlercreek.com for his full catalogue.