Lifelong Pacific Northwest resident Alexa Allamano has always been fascinated by the sea.
Throughout her life, it’s been a source of creative inspiration and serenity. So when she started handcrafting her own jewelry, it naturally reflected its colors and textures.
“Growing up in Seattle, I’ve always loved being near the water and the very calming, peaceful environment that comes with it,” Allamano said. “Just having a place that’s serene, beautiful and let’s you just be in the moment has always been a nice outlet.”
Allamano is the owner of Foamy Wader, a sea-inspired handmade jewelry and home decor storefront on First Street in downtown Langley. Allamano recently relocated her shop to the Village by the Sea in June from Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. She spent three years selling her nautical-inspired jewelry in the Emerald City before she could “no longer resist the call of island life.”
The handcrafted jewelry at Foamy Wader evokes a stroll down the beach, taking the ferry and watching the waves crash on the shore. Allamano incorporates colors one would find in a seaside environment; different hues of blues, light browns and touches of gray and silver. She works with precious metals and gemstones accompanied with artisan wire work and metal smithing techniques. To give her jewelry seaside character, Allamano employs different hammering techniques to leave a texture that mimics rippling water. She also utilizes different finishes to leave a “faceted on-top-of-water texture quality.”
“Our jewelry is infused with a spirit of joy and playfulness,” Allamano said. “Just like when wading in the foamy sea water at the beach.”
Allamano hasn’t always made a career out of her craftsman skills, but she’s always made things by hand. She comes from a long line of hand makers — Allamano actually means “by hand” in Italian — and says handmade is personally an essential way of life. She started exploring with gemstones and wire in 2007 as a creative outlet from her “dry and boring” job working regulatory compliance at Washington Mutual. When the bank went under in 2008 and was bought by Chase Bank, she decided to dive into her hobby-turned-career.
Although moving to South Whidbey was a personal choice rather than a professional one, it’s been a savvy business move thus far. In-store purchases have increased since her move this summer, and Allamano says it’s a challenge to keep the storefront fully stocked. She credits her success to being in the right demographic. Others agree.
“I think handcrafted jewelry inspired by the sea is a perfect fit for Langley,” Lorinda Kay, Langley Main Street Association program manager, said. “The semi-precious stone is beautiful and affordable. I’m wearing one of Foamy Wader’s necklaces (right now).”