All that glitters is not gold, but at Haiku Beads & More you will find an amazing selection of sparkly baubles, bangles and bright shiny beads from all around the world. The inspiration of Costa Rican artist, jeweler, designer and teacher Carmel Montoya and Venezuelan beading aficionado María Gabriela Valderrama, the store opened two months ago on the second floor of Plaza San Rafael in the western San José suburb of Escazú. The artsy beads and ready-made pieces displayed in the window are joys to behold.
The store is named after the Japanese form of poetry consisting of three lines of five, seven and five syllables.
“Stringing beads is like stringing words in a poem,” says the charming Montoya.
Her enthusiasm for beading is so catching that if you visit the store you will no doubt be inspired to embark on this fascinating craft.
Montoya studied art in the United States and earned a degree in jewelry making and silversmithing.
“I’ve been teaching jewelry making and silversmithing for more than 30 years, but only started beading five years ago. It has become a passion for me, and I just can’t stop buying beads,” she says with a smile.
The well-traveled Montoya has taught in Tunisia, Spain and Colombia, and now teaches at Studio Metallo jewelry workshop in San José (TT, July 1, 2005), in her home, and at Haiku Beads & More.
“Beads and beading have become very popular in North America and Europe, and the culture of handicrafts is growing in this country,” she says.
With her partner Valderrama, a student of hers from Studio Metallo, she decided it was time to supply quality beads, tools and materials, as well as workshops and courses on a whole range of techniques, to help those starting out in the art of beading.
The eclectic collection of beads at Haiku & More comes from many different countries.
Matsuno – beautiful Japanese seed beads –and delicately pressed, polished glass beads from Czechoslovakia are found in both vibrant and muted colors, in addition to buffalo horn and multicolored beads from India, wonderful, brilliant-colored, shiny Swarovski crystals from Austria, silver beads from Bali and a variety of copper and brass findings.
Also available are tagua seeds, which come from the pod of a palm family that grows in Colombia and Ecuador. Tagua is also called vegetable ivory, after its natural color.
“We also have a large selection of acrylic beads, which are very cheap and extremely popular,” Montoya says.
Haiku & More offers costume jewelry making classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The polymer clay class, which teaches students how to mix, shape and twist colored clay into a variety of designs, takes place Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm., and a seed-bead weaving class is held at the same time on Tuesday.
Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30, you can join the macramé class and make jewelry out of waxed polyester.
“This type of jewelry is coming into vogue again, but it’s very different from the macramé of the ’60s and ’70s used for wall hangings and potted plant holders,” Montoya says.
All classes cost ¢12,000 ($24).
The variety of things you can make with beads is endless: necklaces, earrings, bracelets and anklets, as well as bags, cases for glasses and cell phones, key chains and many other trinkets.
“It’s a wonderful way to make Christmas gifts,” Montoya suggests, adding that she is happy to give private classes to a group of friends.
Children are not left out. Montoya offers jewelry-making kits for kids – popular party favors – and plans to start classes for children during school vacation time.
Haiku Beads & More is in Plaza San Rafael, 350 meters west of the Más x Menos in San Rafael de Escazú. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, call 588-0742.