I have admired Tiffany Vanderhoop’s Beaded Jewelry for sometime now. Each time she posts a photo of her handmade beaded earrings or there happens to be a pair at Citrine in Vineyard Haven, I have to admire them.
The intricacy, the ornate designs, the beauty she can create with her hands and what used to be simple teeny glass beads.
I met with Tiffany at her home in Aquinnah. Originally from the Haida Gwaii tribe from the West Coast (her mother), Tiffany is now an active Wampanoag (her father). She lives on tribal land, with her four children and her partner, Jason Widdiss, also a member of the Wampanoag tribe.
I have always been in awe of the Wampanoag people, so much culture, tradition and strong sense of community. I can’t help but want to know more. So this meeting was a treat for me.
Before Tiffany began creating beading jewelry, she spent years being a Ravenstail Weaver which according to the University of Southeast Alaska is “an ancient style of twining that creates dramatic geometric patterns in black and white with splashes of yellow highlights. This design forces your eyes to dance across the designs.” The intricate woven piece above is a headpiece.
It is an honor to be able to create such intricate, beautiful pieces, and she, her mother, aunt, brother and sister, have pieces that are part of a collection in the Ketchikan Museum (Alaska).
Their family pieces are part of a tradition that goes back centuries. How incredible. What a gift to all, a legacy for their children. So amazing. I also want to mention that Tiffany’s mother, Evelyn Vanderhoop, is a renowned weaver and is very well known.
A book could be written about her Ravenstail work, and I greatly admire her abilities to do something so complicated.
Why get into beading jewelry? Well, there’s something to be said for instant gratification. A single Ravenstail piece can take months. For Tiffany, it’s a nice change of pace to be able to create something beautiful, a piece of wearable art created in a couple of hours or days.
With her jewelry, there are some similarities with her weaving work. She has an innate eye for patterns. She is able to see a pattern and recreate it in her beadwork. It’s an amazing talent.
After talking at her home for a while, we headed to her shop. She and her partner Jason, own Wayward Wampum, located among the shops at the Aquinnah Cliffs.
Here, you will find a lot of Tiffany’s beadwork and Jason’s work. Jason makes incredible wampum jewelry — bracelets, pendants, money clips, and more. His pieces are really lovely.
There is a great selection of Tiffany’s work here. You’ll find a couple different collections, including her Tribal collection, which celebrates her Indian heritage. Some of her earrings feature porcupine quills, as they have for generations. Others feature very ornate beading, some are whimsical, and some a little modern and chic, something for everyone.
For Tiffany, it is a gift to be able to provide for her family but creating beautiful art — some that celebrates her heritage, and some that is just fun and beautiful adornments for daily wear.
Meeting Tiffany and learning about her story was really interesting. The richness of the culture she lives in and how she is able to share it with the world, it’s such a gift. We are lucky to have artists so talented and passionate about their work.
Her pieces range from $25 to $250, and her work can also be found at Citrine in Vineyard Haven.
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