When Ishi designer Regina Barrios first started working with artisans in the Sierra de Oaxaca, Mexico, she envisioned an embroidered leather jewelry collection. The region’s indigenous Zapotec population –located in Cajonos, which is also the name of the collection- have an ancient tradition of cultivating silk worms and spinning and dying their own lustrous threads. “The production of the threads is extremely painstaking,” says Barrios, “Everything is homegrown. For example, the red and pinks hues are made from cochinilla, a bug that plagues cactus plants.”
However, while cutting the threads, Barrios discovered that the short tufts created a lush, jewel-toned texture. “We then said aha!” says Barrios, “We had made our own Indian “velvet’”.
The resulting pieces are richly embellished necklaces and bracelets that look like little art collages. Barrios has mixed the precious silk fibers with handmade silver and brass beads in whimsical patterns and hand stitched them on sustainably dyed leather pieces.
We are offering the stunning Totem necklace with an oval leather charm that features yellow, pink and burgundy stitching surrounded by silver and brass beads, and hangs on a brass bead chain combined with leather strings. We are also offering two leather cuff-style bracelets from the collection here.
These items are truly rare pieces that fuse modern fashion with a craft heritage that has stayed unchanged for 500 years.