Shop Spotlight: Nautical Charts and Vintage Maps Are the New Gold

With her Whimsy line, Bristol artist Mira Coleman charts her own funky course.

Whimsy Rockport map cuff
By Brielle Hardy

From splashy beaded necklaces to custom cuff bracelets made from vintage maps, Bristol maker Mira Coleman makes jewelry and baubles as versatile as they are, well, whimsical — it’s why she calls her line Whimsy

Coleman grew up in Massachusetts and vacationed on Cape Cod — her childhood memories consist of summers in Buzzards Bay, where small, colorful boats dotted the water. As an adult, she visited Maine for years with her husband and son, skiing at Sunday River and exploring Acadia National Park and the coast. Shortly after retiring in 2002, she started making jewelry that she sold in small shops around Cape Cod. Then, in 2005, Coleman and her husband moved to Maine.

Coleman working on map cuffs in her Bristol studio.

“We fell in love with western Maine and later purchased our full-time home in Wilton, where we remained for 11 years,” she says. “I think we loved the sense of community we found here.”

Coleman’s brother was a long-time employee at American Underwater Search and Survey, the company that located the wreck sites of both the SS Portland and the Schooner Wyoming. He had a collection of old maps and ocean charts that Coleman decided to incorporate into her work, particularly her cuff bracelets. The cuffs took off, and these days, she collects her own vintage maps and uses these and her brother’s old charts on resin belt buckles, tile coasters, and more. Her necklaces she crafts using ​fair-trade components like Kazuri and Mzuri beads, sterling silver, ceramic, and crystal. In addition to the Down East Shop, her one-of-a-kind wares are carried by boutiques in Damariscotta, Port Clyde, Rockland, and Gardiner. 

Got a geographic site that’s special to you? Coleman’s happy to whimsy-fy it. “Much of what I do is custom,” she says, “and I love finding the exact address on a map or chart to fulfill a customer’s request.”

See items from Whimsy and more in the Down East Shop!