Marcia Poirier began her Quahog shell jewelry by chance. While spending the day beachcombing, she spotted the shape of a heart in the coloring of a shell. With only the tools at hand, she carved out the heart and wore it as a pendant. Wildabout Wampum was started when requests from others for pieces of their own led to a four-year search for better processes and better tools to sculpt the rock-hard shell. Today, each piece is hand-crafted through the use of special diamond tools. Only later did Marcia learn that she was making “Wampum,” and that it was an all-but-lost art dating back hundreds of years.
Wampum is a Native American term for “trade” and was originally used for both trade and ceremonial purposes. Originally made by the Wampanoag Indians in the New England area of the United States, Wampum was made in the form of beads carved from the purple sections of the Quahog shell. The Quahog is a type of large clam found in numerous bays along the shores of the Atlantic ocean. Today, while it is no longer accepted as currency, Wampum is said to bring the owner good luck in financial matters - - - making it both beautiful and valuable. While these shells can be found along the entirety of the Atlantic coast of North America, only about 1 in 25 contains the striking purple coloring coveted for Marcia’s shell sculptures.
The incredible characteristics of the Quahog shell make Wildabout Wampum jewelry is beautiful, durable, and easy to care for. In fact, because the shells have a natural shine, Marcia is able to bring out the shine through repeated sanding, rather than coating the pieces with lacquers or varnishes. When your piece needs to be cleaned, you can either wash it gently with mild dish soap or hand soap or use a sterling silver polishing cloth.
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