Behind the Makers: Bluma ProjectApril 18 2018
Just in time for summer, we’ve brought in the Bluma Project jewelry collection. Packed with global influences from designer/founder Beth Schaeffer’s travels, and assembled by local artisans all over the world, this line manages to be both fashion forward and completely timeless. To get a peek behind our new accessory obsession, we asked Beth how she gets and stays inspired.
JW: How did you start Bluma Project?
BS: I went to Africa back in 2007 and was so moved by seeing the artisans in Rwanda. There were women's groups that made the most beautiful baskets. Also seeing all the gorgeous fabrics really got my creative juices flowing, you’d see a woman walking down the street and she’d have on a bold patterned head scarf and a dress in a completely different print and color way but it looked so strikingly beautiful to me.
My background had been fashion and textile design but I’d gotten a little burnt out on the routine of it all. After I’d had my children, I’d also spent many years as a full-time fine art painter, so I’ve always loved color and texture but jewelry was not something I’d thought about until that trip. The first thing I had made were these paper beads in Rwanda that I dyed in really bright colors and combined with textiles. I sold a lot of them and it just took off from there.
JW: Tell us how the pieces are made?
BS: A lot of the designs start when I go to a country and see what type of indigenous crafts they do there. For example, I was just in Colombia where they weave the most amazing baskets and textiles so I’m hoping to go back in a few months and start something. Other places where I work with artisans is Guatemala, India, Peru and the Philippines.
Sacred Valley in Peru - The Andes
One of my favorite areas is Aititlan in Guatemala, it’s surrounded by seven volcanoes, has such a varied terrain and is just stunning. A lot of the beading in my jewelry is made there. How it works is I design all the the brass precious metal components, send that down there and then the beading is done and the pieces are assembled. Every piece I made provides a sustainable living for the people I work with.
JW: What’s your favorite part about your job?
BS: Discovering something new. There’s also tons of places I’d love to go like Vietnam and Cambodia, plus I want to go back to Japan and Africa. I love seeing something in a market or a small shop and thinking of how I can refine it and give it a contemporary, yet hand-crafted feel.
I travel about five times a year, so I’m never short of beauty or inspiration.
To shop the Bluma Project, go here.