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Happy Monday friends!! As I’ve been quite focused on necklaces lately, this past week I decided to work on some other pieces.

I love earrings and its high time I made a new pair.  I decided to stick  to my  palette of pink and gold and this pair features pink gold foil glass beads from the 50s and small pink pate de verre glass beads.  When worn, they dangle quite cheerfully and are perfect for jazzing up summery outfits!

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Then I turned my hand to making some new bracelets.  For the first bracelet (pictured above), I had this lovely pink red glass foil bead that’s been bouncing about in my bead box for some time now.  This bead dates back to the 50s and I wanted to make it into a focal bead but I couldn’t quite make it work as a necklace. Then I realized that it works perfectly as a focal bead for a bracelet.  I dug out the few remaining links I had of this delicate filigreed chain from the 40s and everything came together.

20140721-100546-36346432.jpgFor today’s last piece, I wanted a bit of a different look so I paired this vintage long blush colored bead with some gold and white rondelle beads and presto..a simple but interesting bracelet!

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Hello friends, remember the piece from the last post? I wasn’t entirely sure about its length, so when it came to working on a second necklace, I decided to go for a shorter length.  It still features one of my antique pendants but this time, it features a few carved orange glass beads from the 50s.

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Now that I’ve made the two, I realize that they’re quite lovely paired up together. Don’t you just love them?

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Hello friends, hope your week is off to a rousing start! Last night as I was sorting out beads, I found myself gravitating towards a pink and violet palette. Try as I might, I was not in the mood for any other color.

But what I really wanted to work on were pieces that would include some of my recent finds from France.   The main challenge I’m facing with these finds is the color. A number of the jewelry from the 19th century made use of an alloy of gold and copper resulting in a pinkish gold hue.  The older it is, the more copper seeps into the gold making it even more rosy.  The pendants I brought back all have this rose patina.  And while I love this color, I have to think carefully about the kind of beads that  will go with them as well as the chain I can use.  Most of the newer chains available are of a brighter, more yellow shade and while I’m all for mixing colors, the result is not always harmonious.

For my  first attempt, I decided to pair the pendant with a double fleur de lys pattern with some vintage violet beads from the 50s. To make it more interesting, I decided to add a warm orange disk bead in between the rondelles.  I like this combination of violet and rose gold.  I do wonder about its current length.   As it is now, the pendant falls just within the decollete.  I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be better shorter and closer to the ras de cou style around the neck? Hmmm…what do you think?

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20140710-104525-38725460.jpgHello friends, for today’s Throwback Thursday, I wanted to share with you a necklace I made with one of my earliest bead finds.

A few years ago, before I even had the idea of selling jewelry, I accompanied a friend to a closing out sale. My friend had heard of someone who was closing her business and needed to liquidate her inventory and materials. The artist was quite creative and her creations ranged from bags to textile art and jewelry.  Her atelier was filled to the brim with feathers, uncut leather, tools, sequins and other odds and ends.  I was quite curious as to why she was closing and she told me that despite her love of her craft, it was hard to make a living out of it.  She said that most people didn’t appreciate the efforts that went into her creations and that after years of struggling, she was ready to give it up.  The sale of the things she used to create would help her start afresh.

I certainly wanted to help her but I didn’t really see anything I could use. I decided to go one last time around the atelier and then I spotted some jars sitting high up on one of shelves.  There were two jars filled with buttons and another half filled with beads.   From the various beads stashed in the box was a strand of these green beads.  My eye was caught by the vibrant color and pattern of these beads. She explained that they had been in her family for a long time and that they had come from Africa.  She’d always wanted to do something with them, but for one reason or another, never managed to.  I figured it wasn’t part of the sale so I put it back. But to my surprise, she said she was willing to sell it. She said, it was time for them to be with someone else. Someone else who could make something with them, rather than sitting in the dark, collecting dust.

I happily took them home, that thought ringing in my mind and as I learned more about beads, I learned that these were Venetian Millefiori trade beads.  They had been around a long long time.  They were part of the massive trade of beads that made their way from Venice to Africa in the 19th century.  These particular ones were probably made in the latter half of the 19th century.  These beads were in gorgeous condition; no chips or cracks to mar their surface.  I made a very straightforward necklace with them, the weight of its history carried in the simplest of forms.

 

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Trade beads are one of my most favorite beads to work with. The variety of patterns, and different colors make them interesting and different. I really think that they make for wonderful additions to one’s jewelry box and they can easily jazz up any outfit. Because they are so colorful and inevitably full of pattern, I’ve tried to make these pieces relatively simple in style. These three pieces featured here are great examples of what I mean.

The first piece (pictured above) features bright yellow trade beads with red canes running in the middle of the bead. I’ve had these yellow beads for awhile but I didn’t really know how I would style it. Then when I went to Tucson for the gem fair, I found this red bead which I realized was the exact same pattern as the canes running through the yellow beads.  The beads on this necklace date back to the late 19th century.  I didn’t want this piece to be overwhelming so I decided to go for a sautoir style necklace. I think this style makes these beads more wearable. Just layer over a plain shirt and you’re good to go.

20140513-112507.jpgThe second piece features two black eye beads from the Venetian trade and a lovely Venetian fancy trade bead. While the Venetians were master bead makers, they were greatly inspired by ancient Islamic bead makers. One pattern they took and made their own was the eye motif which was greatly prized by Africans. The eye beads were believed to be powerful protection against the evil eye. The two black eye beads featured here are the Venetians version of an ancient Islamic bead and date back to the 19th century. The yellow fancy bead on the other hand is the Venetian version of the highly prized African Bodom bead.  The Venetian versions are increasingly difficult to find and I was lucky to have found an excellent specimen.  For these beads, I decide to make a shorter necklace that’s designed to sit on the collarbone. Perfect under button down shirts!

20140505-125210.jpgAnd last but not the least is this bracelet composed of blue and yellow trade beads.  While the colors are the same, the pattern is not exactly the same.  The small football shaped beads are harder to find than the round ones and the canes used in the beads are more apparent here. Eh voila… a couple of new pieces to start the week on the right note!

20140702-123020-45020342.jpgFor today’s post, I thought I’d share a new piece I just finished.  This piece started out with the decorated gold focal bead that I made awhile back.  I loved how decorative it looked but wasn’t convinced that making an all gold necklace would be the way to go.20140702-123021-45021299.jpgLuckily, I later on acquired a deep, almost royal blue, set of French glass beads.  These beads are from the late 50s and while pairing them off with different colored beads, I realized that gold would play wonderfully against the deepness of its blue.  And that is how this necklace was born!20140702-123022-45022234.jpg

 

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Hello friends, lat week I talked about my recent visit to the Puces de Vanves.  Today, I want to share my finds from that visit.   There were so many tempting things for sale but I decided to focus on things that I could use for work.  It is after all the main reason why I was at the Puces.  I think I was quite fortunate this time.  I barely arrived when I found my first piece (pictured above).  The seller had bought out someone’s metal stamping business and this piece was one of the last from that lot.  While the design of this lady looks like it is from the early years of the 1900s, this piece was actually made in the 1960s.  It is not that old but I love the design. And it even has the original tag from the business.

Another piece that I acquired dates back to almost the same period.  This pendant made of little glass beads resembling turquoise dates back to the late 50s, early 60s.  The necklace it probably came with is gone but I am happy to have this gorgeous statement piece.

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A bit of walking brought me to my next find.  A pair of gorgeous French made pendants from a much earlier period.   The piece on the right dates back to the period of 1890 while the other pendant is dates back to the beginning of the 1900s.  Both were fashioned by hand and the enamel work is in very fine condition.  I’m very excited by these two and I can’t wait to work on them.

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The next set of pieces are quite interesting too.  These were made in the 1890s and they were designed to be either lockets or as ornaments for men’s watches.  As these  particular pieces weren’t lockets, they were most likely  used for men’s watches. In those days, men used pocket watches and at one end of the chain, there used to hang decorative little pendants such as these.  Most of these pendants were made out of a mixture of gold and copper hence their particular color.  I think they would make for great pendants!

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And my next find also dates back to the same time frame.  This tiny enameled piece used to belong to a bracelet but all the other pieces are now lost.  I don’t quite know what to do with it yet, but I just couldn’t resist it.  The enamel work on the piece is still intact and I love the little flower design.  20140630-091534-33334937.jpg

Finally, just as I was about to head home, I found some gorgeous beads. Finding these beads just about completed my day.  These are early Venetians from the beginning of the 1900s.  Its been awhile since I found some gorgeous beads in an antique market so I just had to have them!

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I’m quite happy to be back at my desk working away with these gorgeous new pieces!

 

 

20140626-073813-27493699.jpg   One of the things I miss about France is the weekly brocantes and the Puces (big weekend antique markets) I used to frequent.  I may not always find something, but an afternoon or morning spent browsing amongst the different stalls was always interesting and fun.   Needless to say, going to the Puces is one of the things I look forward to the most when we make a trip back. This particular visit, I spent one morning browsing through the stalls of the Puces de Vanves.

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 It is a much smaller affair than the Puces de Clignancourt, and they keep  shorter hours, from 7 am to 1 pm only.  Some years ago, when I first started going there, most, if not all of the people browsing were locals.  Bargaining or even conversing with the sellers in my fledging French was an adventure to say the least! Well the times, they are a-changing.  Now, there are as many foreigners as locals browsing the stalls and even more surprising, the French (as can be!) vendors are speaking English! You can’t imagine how surprised I was by this!               20140626-073810-27490809.jpgDespite these changes and the increasing difficulties in sourcing good quality antiques (a refrain I heard from many vendors), the Puces is still replete with many wonderful objets d’art,  curios and trinkets.  There are a few furniture pieces but for those things, it is better to go to the Puces de Clignancourt anyway.  20140626-073812-27492583.jpg       There were a lot of beautiful paintings and prints on all manner of subjects. It was wonderful to see the wide variety available on sale.

My eye was caught too, by all the pretty and dainty dinnerware sets and silverware that hark back to the days of washing everything by hand.  It was only the thought of lugging all these back in a luggage that stopped me from buying some pretty dishes.20140626-073811-27491739.jpg

And if you are looking for pretty things, there was no shortage of those as well.  Just check out the pretty petit point bags and delicate lace jacket from the beginning of the 20th century pictured above.  They were all handmade and in beautiful condition.  And while some stalls specialized in one of a kind objects, some others stands had boxes of things.  This one in particular had crates of old candy boxes from the turn of the century.  Turns out the seller had bought out the entire left over stock of an old candy shop.  As I left, I overheard someone bargaining to buy the box.  I t made me wonder what he will do with them.  20140626-073814-27494538.jpg

As for my finds, I’m happy to report that I came away with a few special things.  But that is for another post!  Happy weekend everyone!