As I start another year working in Peru at the archaeological park known as Saqsaywaman, I realize it's been 10 years since I started my relationship with Peru. Not only have I made great friends at the Ministry of Culture and with the people who live on the active archaeological site. I've also formed relationships with amazing artisans who make unique Andean jewelry.
The artisan community of San Blas (up above the main square Plaza de Armas in Cusco) is chock full of talented artisans who may or may not have formal shops. Some work in the streets and some have transient booths at the weekly San Blas craft market. No matter where they display their beautiful work, they are dedicated to using their creativity to bring the Andean culture to life through stone, metal and leather.
This year the word spread fast in San Blas that I was back and was looking for unique pieces for my BeadItForwardStore.com website. People texted me, called me on What'sApp, and just found me wandering around San Blas. And, given that sales of jewelry help me fund my project in Peru, it was great to have so many artisans offer me their best pieces at great prices!
And, much to my surprise, several of the artists had a new stone that I'd never seen before.
My eyes were immediately drawn to pieces in Claudio's store that were made of this amazing blue stone that I found out was called Sky Onyx. I've never seen this stone before and I was struck by it's ability to look brilliant, translucent sky blue, then in other lighting almost green. Claudio only had three necklaces made with this stone and I bought them all. And, when I put them up on my website, they were gone within days.
I was back in San Blas within a couple days and scoured the stores and my street vendors blankets looking for more of this stone. I found a few more made into necklaces. And I found some raw stones that I'm having fabricated into beautiful necklaces that I hope to have up by next week.
There are still a couple of Sky Onyx pieces on my site. But stay tuned as I found these two raw stones (above) and am having them turned into pendants like the above examples. I'll keep looking for more Sky Onxy and will send out info as I find new jewelry with this unique stone.
Sky Onxy isn't the only really unique material I've found in this January's collection. The Inca valued the Spondylus shell more than gold. They had tons of gold. Finding this unique shell on the coast of Peru was hard and then it had to be transported hundreds of miles to the mountain capital of Cusco to be turned into jewelry for the Sapa Inca (the king.) The most common color for Spondylus is orange.
Spondylus shell does come in a purple color, but it is rare. Finding jewelry the Inca made of purple spondylus is almost impossible. And finding it in today's jewelry is even more rare. Years ago I found a ring with purple spondylus shell in it. I now know how rare my ring is. I'll keep looking for this amazing substance in jewelry and I certainly will snap it up and put it on my site if I do find it in purple.
Finally, I wanted to illuminate you all about the various types of "silver" that is used in jewelry here in Peru. Of course there is "Sterling Silver", which I don't tend to buy a lot of because it's pricey. The other option, that most of what I have on my site is made of, is called "Alpaca Silver."
Alpaca Silver is a metal alloy of copper & nickel most often here in Peru. The metal looks very much like sterling silver and it doesn't not tarnish or turn your finger green. Alpaca silver is less expensive than sterling silver, which makes jewelry made with this metal way more affordable. Additionally, it is very malleable allowing artisans to make the intricate wire work designs that are featured on so many of the pieces on my bead site. And, it's durable so once the designs are made, they hold their shape indefinitely.
Thanks to you all for reading and helping me fund my project here in Peru by buying these amazing artisan pieces of jewelry. Help me spread the news about these great necklaces, bracelets and rings by sharing this blog with your friends. And, stay tuned. New pieces coming along every day or so. And, this weekend, I'm going to this amazing stone and bead market at the ancient site of Ollantaytambo.
And, if you've read this far, you get to use the coupon code at checkout of 20OFF2020 for a 20% discount. All purchases will be shipped as soon as I return to the US on February 9th so you have your purchases in time for Valentine's day.
Check out the Store Tab for pieces that are still available.
Much love to you all! Maren
I love that I can offer beads and pendants directly from Peru while I'm here working on my ethnographic research project at the archaeological site of Saqsaywaman! And, I have endless amazing places to place these gems to showoff their beauty on historical sites. These photos were taken at the ancient Monastery in Cusco with it's old doors and ornate altars.
In-between work and taking classes in Spanish at Maximo Nivel, I do have time to walk around to the various artisan markets and find great pendants and beads. So, I'll be posting new stuff every day or so. I'll ship you your purchases as soon as I return to California on February 8th...just in time for Valentine's Day.
If you want to read about my trip, check out my blog at On-Site Expeditions.
I'm so excite to join with my friend & website client, Sofanya, to share a booth at the upcoming West End Celebration in Sand City, CA. The event takes place on August 18th and 19th. We'll have our booth open on those two days. Come check out Sofanya's new line of wearable art and my beaded jewelry that matches some of here pieces!
Those of you who know me know that I sell beads to help fund my anthropological research in Peru. I plan to return to Peru in the Winter of 2018, so this sale will really help me reach my funding goal. If you'd like to read more about my work in Peru, you can go to my website page for the Stone & People project.
If you can't be at the West End Celebration, you can shop my beaded jewelry collection and get a discount by using 20%OFF in the coupon code at checkout. BeadItForwardStore.com
Making beaded jewelry means finding great beads to use in your designs. I love finding beads during my travels, but when I'm home for a while I like to make the rounds of the MANY great vintage shops here in Monterey & Carmel.
Vintage beads have unique qualities that you just can't get in newer beads. They often have unique finishes with gold, silver and the vintage crystals often have great iridescent coatings that make them truly sparkle. I love it when I find these vintage crystals.
My most recent "fun find" are beads that are made of 50's and 60's Lucite. This plastic, unlike today's cheap plastic beads, is harder and holds up with great shine. Lucite is also known as plexiglass...and just like glass it can be molded into great shapes and wears very well. Many of my bracelet duos in my Summer Solstice Collection have unique Lucite beads that I've found all over the place.
Finally, as all of you know, I take the profits from my bead business and put them into my "Get Maren To Peru" fund. I'm getting close to my funding goal for this year and will be going to Saqsaywaman again end of 2018.
Thanks to you all for supporting my efforts to get to Peru by selling my beaded design. Have a great summer!
Hello all my bead friends,
I've been so busy with my website and social media management business (On-Site Research & Marketing) through the end of 2017 and into 2018. Thanks to all who have recommended me for website and social media projects! Good to have lots of work, but that meant I didn't even have time to feature my own beads over the Christmas holiday or Valentine's day! My inventory is so low and I'm looking forward to having some time in the Spring to create another collection of my own designs. And I'm really looking forward to getting more Peruvian beads when I return to Peru in the Summer of 2018. Get an update on my research in Peru with this LINK.
In the meantime, my good friend and beading buddy, Katie Pontius, has been working away and has created a whole line of amazing necklaces...many with unique pendants, semi-precious stones, and color combinations that I never would have thought of. I LOVE HER DESIGNS.
Katie has offered to donate 20% of her sales to help me get to Peru later this year. And, as many of you know as well, I've been trying to get back to Peru FOR YEARS! And, this year has to be it!
The situation in Peru remains challenging for those living on the Saqsaywaman Archaeological Park and I've been talking (via social media) with both the Ministry of Culture of Peru and the residents of the Park and they both want me to come down and continue my work there. My son's wedding is on May 5th, so I hope to get down to Peru in July or August of this year. To read more about my Peru project, you can check out this LINK.
Hope you all have a great Spring and thanks in advance for your support of my work in Peru and of the new Katie Collection.
Many of you who know me know that I love to have beading parties where my friends and I get together to chat, have a glass of wine and bead like crazy. It's always fun to bead with friends.
So, this October 14th & 15th, I'm joining my friend Katie Pontius to bring you our Fall collections at the Center for Spiritual Awakening's "Harvest Moon Festival."
Katie and I have been meeting and beading together to bring you some unique designs for the Fall and Holiday. Katie loves to work with semi-precious stones and pendants. Katie has created a new jewelry concept called “opulent options” where you can create your own beautiful designs by simply mixing various strands of gorgeous beads, gems, and chains Katie has already created. The possibilities are endless, just by adding or subtracting different jewelry strands.
For me, I've been using various beads that I purchased a few months ago off Facebook marketplace from a woman who moved to Texas. I've made a whole new Fall collection of both long and short necklaces that you can mix and match.
We both have been having a blast creating designs to showcase at this upcoming show.
The Harvest Moon Festival takes place on Saturday, October 14th and Sunday, October 15th. We are offering a SPECIAL 20% OFF on the Saturday of the show. So, come on by on that day. See our collections and get 20% off your first purchase from either Katie or Maren.
Location: The Center For Spiritual Awakening 522 Central Avenue Pacific Grove CA
Times: Saturday, October 14th 10am - 4pm Sunday, October 15th 10am - 4pm
Note From Maren: If you purchase off my website, then you can get the 20% discount on one item no matter when your purchase through the end of October. Just put in 20%OFF in the coupon code at checkout.
Each season I try to create new beaded jewelry inspired by the colors, lights and designs I see around me. Up in Carmel, Fall is already upon us. There's a distinct different feeling in the air; crisp, scented with leaves and the last of the flowers, and the sunlight always starts to glow orange and amber at sunset. I'm inspired by these natural reminders of Fall's approach that it's time to get the beads out that speak that language.
As an anthropologist, I've traveled all over and my bead collection reflects visits to various cities and countries. And, this year I had the fortune to find on Facebook marketplace a large collection of beads that were being sold by a wonderful woman named Debby. She and her husband decided to move from Santa Cruz to Texas, just in time for Hurricane Harvey. She's fine, but I'm sure she's missing California a bit. I was lucky enough to buy her collection largely due to the fact that I'm usually up late at night and my friend Diana Galbraith messaged me at that time in the morning about the collection on Facebook marketplace. I was the second person to express interest and amazingly I ended up buying the collection for a GREAT price. Thanks so much to Debby and Diana!
This Fall, I decided to make a collection of both long and short necklaces, bracelet combinations and even some rainbow catchers. And, I'm running a Labor Day special. If you buy a piece from my Fall Collection, you can choose something from any of my other collections for FREE...as long as it's the same price or lower. And, if you live in Monterey county, I'll be happy to hand deliver your items the week after Labor Day. This special runs only till September 10th, so hurry and take advantage of this great chance to get two items for the price of one.
Enjoy your sunsets, your pumpkins, your pumpkin spiced lattes, and a new beaded piece of jewelry to help you honor this transitional time of year.
Maren / The Airstream Anthropologist
It's Spring and I have enjoyed making new beaded necklaces with colors that reflect the vibrant season upon us. Aquamarine, pinks and purples, pearls, stones and crystals come alive when paired like wine with cheese. Shells are always some of my favorite pendants, as the picture below illustrates.
I also like using stone, bone and crystal beads that I've collected from my travels. These little gems bring a sense of the Earth to my designs and when surrounded by crystals and seed beads, they come alive with grace and panache.
I've also been playing with pendants this season, having fun pairing some of the many items I've found in other countries with beads, copper wire, and crystals to bring these pendants alive!
Finally, I love to make unique, one-of-a-kind creations that ensure your jewelry choices stand out and make a statement. This year I took the color Aquamarine and created a whole collection around that color.
Enjoy shopping...and thanks again for your support! SHOP NOW
For those of you who don't know already, the series of storms that have hit us here in Central California have caused MAJOR mud and rock slides in Big Sur. This week, the continued rain has caused a complete closure of Hwy 1 through the Big Sur area. Those people (many of my friends) who live and work in the Big Sur area have been severely impacted, with some not able to work and others being displaced from their homes. Bottom line, these people need our help.
I'm offering Free Tech Help & raising money to help residents pay for Helicopter Rides in and out of the area...a service that starts today.
I appreciate your help, in whatever way you can, to assist our friends down in our beautiful Big Sur. Read the sections below for ways you can help.
831 238 5503 firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Tech Help: Anyone who is stuck down in Big Sur (without cell or Wifi service) or displaced from their home is encourage to call (831 238 5503) or email me so I can offer my tech skills for FREE. If you know someone who needs this type of help, please let them know about me.
Raising Money For Helicopter Rides: People who live in the impacted Big Sur area can get in and out by Helicopter for $50/ride. I'd like to help as many people as possible by paying for this expense. If you'd like to help, email or call me (831 238 5503) with your contact details and I'll link you to someone in need.
25% of Bead It Forward Sales Donated To Helicopter Ride Fund: Starting today, I will donate 25% of the proceeds from my Bead It Forward business to help defer the costs of helicopter rides for Big Sur residents.
For those of you who don't know, I come from a family of creative people. My mother, Barbara Elwood with me in the photo to the left, is largely responsible for instilling in me a desire to use my hands to make beautiful crafts. I can remember her teaching us how to sew, how to make Barbie clothes, and my memories are filled with recollections of homemade Christmas stockings and
dresses made from scratch.
This week, one of my cousins found some old photos of me and my sister dressed up in homemade green velvet dresses, made by my mother, for a family wedding back in the 60's. (Photo right...I'm the taller girl behind my little sister, my brother is the ring bearer too). These photos reminded me of what a long tradition I have in my family of homemade crafts...that continues to this day.
This week my mother and I have teamed up to make some unique hand crafted jewelry for Valentine's day. She has put together a collection of one-of-a-kind glass hearts that are decorated with Dichroic glass strips and hung on chains. These pieces started as rough collections of glass that went into the kiln and came out as beautifully designed glass hearts.
Both my mother and I are enjoying creating beautiful crafts to share with people. I've been encouraging her to create a whole line of creative glass crafts. At Christmas she made glass trees (pictured here) and now she has a line of hand crafted glass hearts you can find on my BeadItForwardStore.com.
Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day.
Maren Elwood is a Visual Anthropologist who studies cultures with her camera...and collects beads on her travels to share with you.