Jamie Okuma’s Beaded Boots Are Inspired by a Bird With Character


While Okuma has created other showstopping boots covered in swallows, elk, and other animals, she says this ode to Peep has been one of her most meaningful undertakings yet. “Peep was really intelligent,” says Okuma. “Animals are very special to me; I feel this connection with them. I’ve always been more animal-friendly than people-friendly.” For the imagery of Peep, she used only her best beads, to pay respect to his memory. “I used antique size 18-cut beads for his face, and his main body is done in this most gorgeous 16-cut white heart bead,” she says. “The pictures don’t do it justice; it has this luminescence to it.” 

Around the images of Peep, floral imagery is also depicted to represent Okuma’s home territory on the La Jolla Indian Reservation. “The florals are all found in this area,” says Okuma. “There’s lupines and Indian paintbrushes.” (This vibrant use of color is one of Okuma’s signature elements. “[It] always blows me away,” says Powell.) On the background of the boots, she crafted beaded images of piano keys, which hark back to one of Okuma’s favorite moments with Peep. “When I was little, I took piano lessons, and Peep would come sit on the edge of the piano, even though I would play absolutely terribly,” says Okuma. “He loved it.”

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