Olives & Pearls was born out of a classroom at Purdue University. While pursuing her MFA, Dala Al-Fuwaires researched, designed, and built components for a sustainable classroom environment in rural Kenya. She observed that the laser cutter she was using to build furniture had the potential to produce jewelry, what she calls "wearable art," which is all conveniently available on Etsy.
Al-Fuwaires instantly found her main material in vegetable tanned leather scraps, but it wasn't until she graduated in May of last year and moved back to Arizona, when she found her creative fuel for The Aztecan Collection. "I was instantly inspired by the rich culture of the Southwest and began to incorporate it into the design of a new line," she says.
Everything is made by Al-Fuwaires' own two hands. The vegetable tanned leather scraps, which are cut in geometric shapes, are the most distinguishable aspect of the line. Al-Fuwaires sketches each design then produces it digitally using Adobe Illustrator. She hooks up digital files to a laser cutting machine and then she hand dyes them with Eco-Flo Leather Dye, a water-based, low-VOC dye. Al-Fuwaires also works with locally-sourced vintage brass bars, fair trade beads from Turkey, as well as old "found" beads and new seed beads.
Brighter colors are on the horizon for Al-Fuwaires next collection. For summer 2012, the designer is drawing her inspiration from the Arizona sunsets.