Wild About Wampum
Cocagne, New Brunswick
Marcia Poirier is a Yankee-born descendant of the Acadians, the French settlers who in the late 1600s came to inhabit the Atlantic shores of what is now known as Canada.
Creative since her youth, Marcia began her Quahog shell jewelry by chance. While spending a day beachcombing, she spotted the shape of a heart in the colouring of a shell she plucked from a beach in New Brunswick. With only crude tools at hand, she carved it out and wore it as a pendant. Requests from others for pieces of their own led to a four-year search for better processes to sculpt the rock-hard shell. Only later did Marcia learn that she was making “Wampum”, and that it was an all-but-lost art dating back hundreds of years.
Today, each Wildabout Wampum “objet d'art” is a unique, one-of-a-kind piece, hand-crafted through the use of special diamond tools. Just as in the days gone by, however, each piece is created by meticulously sculpting the rare purple sections of the Quahog shell. While the 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. Those rare finds from the waters of the Atlantic are carved, then repeatedly sanded to perfect the glassy, mirror finish.
A Word from the Artist,...
"Greetings from Wildabout Wampum! We live in a magical part of the world, where beauty can be found simply by looking around us.For me, there’s a soothing vibration in the shells I use for my artwork. It sings to me, it tells me “there is no anger, no impatience . . . just happy as a clam!”
When I was young, and my parents told me I couldn’t be an artist, I often said I wanted to be a marine biologist because then I could work with shells. I’ve always loved shells. It’s ironic how things work out, because now I am an artist . . . and still I get to work with shells. "