It's 1989 and I'm a sophomore in college waitressing on Cape Cod for the summer. I have the weekday 'outdoor deck shift' and on sunny days my fellow waitstaff and I have all kinds of time on our hands because our customers are at the beach. We talk about everything during those slow hours - plans for after work, boyfriends, college majors, the adorable muskrats that swim by the waterfront restaurant deck (we worked at Clancy's in Dennisport), and admire each other's jewelry. And here I discover the first Cape Cod Screwball bracelet I have ever seen. My coworker said it had been her mom's and it was made at Eden Hand Arts in Dennis. She let me try it on. I loved it. I had to have it. I had lots of cash from waitressing!
Eden Hand Arts is a small artist studio on the corner of Sesuit Neck Rd. and Rt. 6A in Dennis. I had driven by it hundreds of times over the years and never noticed it. On this day, I pulled into the empty, tiny parking lot and entered. The studio was filled with sterling silver bracelet, earring, necklace and pin displays. And there to the left in a little nook was the owner, John Carey, at his jewelry bench hard at work making bracelets.
This was about thirty years ago and I remember my conversation with John that day like it was yesterday. At the time, he was 68 years old. The studio was empty except for the two of us and we started chatting. He told me about the sterling silver gauge wire (I had never heard this term before) he used to make his bracelets and the process. He told me that his wife Eve crafted all of the beautiful jewelry in the studio other than the bracelets and that he had been a teacher before he retired - well, before he semi-retired - and they started Eden in 1964. We somehow got on the subject of the Sandwich Glass Factory which was located down the road in Sandwich in the 1800s and was the largest producer of glass in the world. I loved art glass then and still do. John opened one of his many bench drawers and took out a red, white and blue striped glass cabochon that was about a half inch in diameter. He told me it had been made at the Sandwich Glass Factory in the late 1800s and he wanted me to have it. I said something like, "No, I couldn't possibly." He insisted.
Our conversation that day lasted over two hours and I walked away with more than an original Cape Cod Screwball bracelet and a piece of historic glass. John was the type of person you could spend a full day talking to, he was just that interesting and knowledgeable and kind. I am grateful to this day for the opportunity to have met him. How many people would take two hours of out their work day to talk to a 19 year old kid?
Though John and Eve have passed away, their family continues to own and run Eden Hand Arts. They are the only (repeat: only) authorized maker of the Cape Cod Screwball bracelet. They do no sell their bracelets through other jewelers, or online, or anywhere at all except through their studio in Dennis. The bracelets have become so popular that many knock-offs exist and the true Eden Hand Arts bracelets now have an identifying tag on them. Back in 1989, this wasn't the case and my original bracelet was tagless. The bracelet pictured (one of many I now own) I've had for about 15 years.
If you want to show off a Cape Cod bracelet, or an armful of them, please honor the legacy of this special man and his original and iconic design and buy it at Eden. They custom fit you at the studio and you'll leave knowing that you've bought a piece of true Cape Cod history.
For info: Eden Hand Arts
I'm a third generation Cape Codder and a passionate investigator of every inch of this magical 65 mile long spit of sand.