Here's a great gift idea for your artsy friend - intricately beaded accessories from Bulacan designer Merriam Batara! I've actually seen her line on Ava.ph some time back, and didn't realize my school mates from graduate school - Leslie & Anna Suntay are behind the line.
Apparently the trio got their start when Anna's love for art would bring her to Merriam's stall at the St James the Great Bazaar every year. She fell in love with, and couldn't get enough of Merriam's pieces and so like a dutiful husband (joke lang Les!), the entrepreneurial Leslie got into the picture - i.e. provided funding to build a collection and now helps out with distribution.
Today, MerriaMBatara pieces did the high-end bazaar rounds too but are now also found at Firma, Chimes Davao and House of Laurel year-round.
Anyhoo, before I ramble on, check out some of these pieces from the latest collection and see what it is all about:
Quite charming no? These beaded costume jewelry are made out of semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, and sometimes vintage pendants, pins, and buttons, which are either sourced locally or sometimes bought from trips abroad. These materials are embroidered on scrap leather cutoffs which we source from a local manufacturer. On occasion, 'plateros' or goldsmiths are commissioned to make custom metal findings like studs, metal flora and fauna made of silver and copper. All of the products are hand sewn and handcrafted by women in Bulacan.
About Merriam Batara:
Merriam Batara is a self-taught jewelry designer and bead embroiderer from Bulacan, who comes from a family of jewelers and beaders. In the mid-2000s she discovered a knack for design when she made a bag and a necklace to wear to school, after hours of shopping in vain. She learned jewelry design techniques and embroidering through reading and experimenting. She now employs several women in Baliuag, Bulacan where her studio is based; all of whom she has taught how to embroider.
For more on Merriam Batara, visit her Facebook page or call 02-9758674/0917-6216696.