Navajo Crafted Beaded Cuffs

Working with artisans in Istanbul, Sydney adopted the Turkish word for IMPACT to guide her business, wanting the income earned to make a real impact in the workers lives.  After some time, she returned to her home in the states, determined to create the same impact with US artisans.  In her home state of New Mexico, she found remarkably skilled beaders living on Navajo lands where roads are long and jobs are non-existent, and sought to create with them a luxury brand of beaded jewelry that honors their centuries old passed-down skills and gives to each of the women a living wage.  She carried the Turkish word for impact with her, and the group became known as Etkie.

From the very beginning, Priscilla, above,  joined Etkie and took on an enormous amount of responsibility, working with determination and significant impact to help the new endeavor blossom.  Says Sydney:  Priscilla is one of the strongest and hardest working humans we know.  As a beader, Priscilla crafts her bracelets with such meticulous detail that each piece reflects her passion for this art.  Like several of the women, she can work from home, on her land, with her animals, carrying her tradition forward with formidable skill.

As Ali MacGraw began to envision her new spring collection for Ibu, she fell in love with Priscilla's bracelet:  the deep red and striking black a favorite of hers for years, and now in the rich Navajo tradition which surrounds and informs her life in Santa Fe.  Ali tweaked the colors, imagining cuffs, both large and small, that are nothing short of heirlooms.

Backed in deerskin soft against the wrist, using the best glass beads available, and executed in beauty, I think these cuffs have their own impact.  For the Diné (more commonly known as Navajo), the Spider Woman Cross speaks to the power of four sacred directions  and the harmony at the center where they converge.   For me, the symbol has always spoken to the creative tension at the center of all polarities:  of male and female, of heaven and earth, of East and West.  At the intersection, we glimpse a Peace which holds all.

This is a legacy - this artwork.  This worldview.   This imagination holding the Earth as sacred.  I wear this legacy on my wrist with humility, a native grace, and thank these women for holding on to their living tradition with such tenacity.  I am richer for it.

All the best,

Susan Hull Walker