Sherri Church Maker of the Month
If you’ve ever taken a stroll along the shores of Martha’s Vineyard, odds are you’ve stumbled upon bright, beautiful purple and white shells. Found in different shapes, sizes and hues of purple they all come from the Quahog shell. For centuries, these shells have held significant importance; from currency to jewelry.
For those who don’t know, the Quahog is a clam. Traditionally, Quahogs are harvested in the summertime; their meat consumed, leaving the shells empty and to be used in various ways. Known as Wampum to the Wampanoag Tribe, these shells were once used as currency or a representation of value through exchange and crafted into incredible jewelry.
It’s no secret that Quahog shell jewelry has evolved but the intention and tradition remains the same. As Islanders, we consider it sacred; a craft that’s taught time and time again, passed down from generation to generation and worn with respect to the Wampanoag people.
Martha’s Vineyard is home to many makers, one of which specializes in Quahog jewelry. Meet Sherri Church! Born and raised on the Island, Sherri has a very special appreciation for Quahog shell jewelry, a craft that was taught to her in high school and encouraged ever since.
As a daughter of a local fisherman, Sherri is familiar with Quahog shells. She knows the season in which they become available, the hard work that comes with digging them up, harvesting them and even cooking them––all of which has made her jewelry making that much more memorable.
For years, Sherri was known as Indian Hill Wampum. A name that came from her home on Indian Hill Road, but since then she has dropped the word Wampum out of respect to the Wampanoag people and rebranded to Clammer Creations. As for Clammer Creations namesake? Sherri says it was her grandchildren that came up with it in 2021.
Although she started her Quahog jewelry business in 2016, Sherri has always had ties to the local artisan scene. She and her daughter successfully opened Driftwood, a local jewelry store in Oak Bluffs. The space displayed over a dozen local jewelry makers, from gold, silver and brass to stones, shells and more. Since then, it has closed but Clammer Creations doors remain open.
When asked what inspires her the most, Sherri said it’s the shells. Her intention is to create what she sees in each variation; if she sees a feather, she’ll carve out a feather, so on and so forth. Like the shells, her designs come in all shapes and sizes. From hearts and seahorses to simple ovals and triangles. Some pieces are bezel set in silver, others fastened to thin chains, twine and more.
Sherri also creates pendants which can be worn any way, keychains, earrings, upcycled milk bottles and more. What makes Sherri’s Clammer Creations so great is that they’re locally made, locally sourced and affordable!
If you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift Mom will love, you can find Clammer Creations both in-store and online at Martha’s Vineyard Made!
- Jordan Lane