June 2013 archive

My first ever Word Cloud

| Word Cloud

WordItOut-Word-cloud-DPMFriends, its the last day of the Blogathon! Can you believe it? It went by so fast. The last day happens to have a theme day. Its Word Cloud day. I’ve never made one but thanks Word it Out, I managed!

So here you are, my last post for the Blogathon. Its been an invaluable experience, meeting so many bloggers and learning so many things from them.  When I started out, I didn’t think I could post every day and I’m proud to have been able to do it.  What a big adventure it has been!

 

 

 

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Summer vacation a la francaise

| Scenes from our travels

Summer collage1Hello friends, I wanted to share some images of my fondest memories of summers spent in France.  Right about now, the French are busy planning their annual holidays, if they haven’t already left.

There are two camps–those who leave in July, les jullietistes and come back sometime in August and those who leave in August, les aoutiens and come back in September.  But whichever camp they’re in, most people are gone from Paris by the 15th of August. Even les juillietistes find an excuse to be away on that date!  Paris is empty of its residents at this time of the year.  A good of number of restaurants and small shops are closed too. Everyone, except for a lucky few come back in the beginning of September for la rentree.

We’ve always been in the August camp and it was funny (though sometimes it was a bummer to wait so long before leaving for vacation too) to see your friends all go progressively away on vacation. But I have to say that having Paris all to yourself is not such a hardship.

Paris, tu me manques

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Fashion friday: Blush Pink

| My thoughts on

blushing pink collageMaybe because we had a particularly long winter and we are now having some summer weather that I find myself gravitating towards the color blush. This is a bit unlike me as I tend to go for the brighter and more vibrant hues but there’s something about this color that is just very appealing at the moment.

I’m not the only one having a blush moment. Pantone has declared blush as one of the key color trends for spring/ summer 2013. Today’s post is my own small collection of crushes on all things blush.

Photos from left to right are as follows:

The color Blush from the Pantone website

My current favorite Maje top with its refreshingly cool palette  of ecru and blush

Some beautiful flowers from a park near our apartment in Paris.

My very own blush creation available at De Petites Merveilles.

A very pretty scarf from dyeproservices.

And last but not the least, a pair of gorgeous custom made shoes from SHUNAMI a newly discovered etsy seller.

Are you having a particular color moment? I’d love to hear from you..

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Where to find my table

| All things Antique, My thoughts on

Friends, I am officially obsessed with tables and desks. Remember our trip to the Midlands antique fair where I tried unsuccessfully to find myself a work table? Well since that trip, I have been dreaming about finding my desk.  I know there are other more important things to think (and obsess) about I feel hampered and unsettled by the lack of a proper work space. The fates must be conspiring too because ever since that trip, I have come across various kinds of desks, none of which are exactly what I need or want. I feel a little like Goldilocks!

First there were these adorable Florentine nesting tables from the 50s….cute but not at all what I am looking for!

Florentine nesting tables

Then there was this desk, also from the 50s with a mirror. But this one was a little too small, there would’ve been too little work space.Mirrored desk

Then there was this absolutely gorgeous carved flip up desk from the 19th century. Isn’t it just pretty?  I was literally drooling when I saw it. Unfortunately practicality reared its head–this simply wouldn’t have enough work space for me.  Believe me it was hard to walk away from this beauty!flip top desk I might have another lead which I aim to follow up tonight. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be the one.  But if it doesn’t work out, maybe I should just go for this one..

industrial repurposed tableThis one is by Industrial Artifact, an etsy seller I just discovered.  Their philosophy is to find old industrial artifacts or objects and give them new life by repurposing them.  I love this philosophy. Its the same guiding principle behind my jewelry.  And this table certainly fits my work requirements. So I wonder if this is actually the one.

What about you friends, any object related obsessions lately? I’d love to hear about them.

And if you have ideas where I can find my table, feel free to share them!

 

 

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Exciting Summer Events

| Events

Hello friends, today I wanted to share some exciting news. We’ve got events lined up for the summer and the first one starts this weekend!

As I don’t have a brick and mortar store, craft fairs are a great opportunity for me to meet lots of lovely people.  I like the freedom and independence that working from home gives me but sometimes it gets pretty lonesome just sitting in front of my computer. Its refreshing to meet and chat with people.  I love to tell stories about my beads and I love it even more when people share their own bead stories.

So I’m excited to tell you that I will be at Northville Square, Northville Michigan this weekend the 28th (10-7pm),29th(10-8pm) and 30th(12-4pm) of June and again on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of August (but more on that later).

Here is a small sampling of the bijoux I will be bringing…

DPM collage3

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Haiku day

| My thoughts on

We are on the homestretch for the Blogathon! And today has a theme–its haiku day.  I was unable to join the other theme days but I thought I would give this one a try. My haiku was inspired by yesterday’s stroll.

Park scene1 Oh the scorching sun-

what relief to find some shade

coolness in water

Park scene 2

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Finds from the Midlands Antique Show

| Vintage finds

guild painting

Yesterday I talked about visiting the Midlands Antique Fair and my search for a work table. Unfortunately I didn’t find a table but I didn’t come home empty-handed. I found myself purchasing some vintage frames. One is this really pretty pastel water-color from the 1930s.  There is something so delicate about this one and I love how girly it is-the pretty pink dress, the handsome prince on the white horse. It might be a tad too retro since  women have come a long way from the days of princes on white horses but that hasn’t stopped me from liking this painting nonetheless.

la mode illustree

My other find consisted of two framed  La Mode Illustree fashion plate engravings.  La Mode Illustree was a fashion magazine that ran in the late 1900s and they featured the very latest in Victorian fashion and accessories. Each issue came with a fashion plate.  I’ve long wanted something like this but I’ve always put off buying them. This time it seemed like the good time to buy them.

I especially like this one below.  I love how the seated woman in blue has an air of purposeful calm while the other gazes straight back at the viewer.  I like that they are wearing embroidered dresses and one seems to be working on a hat.  La Mode Ilustree became very popular  because it provided women with patterns they could use to make their own clothes.  They featured the very latest in fashion from Paris.  Women may have come a long way from those times but these magazines still provide us with a look into the latest fashions. Like it or not we still look at them to be inspired and to get ideas about what to wear. anais toudouze

Funnily enough this one is signed by Anais Toudouze who was one of the leading illustrators of the magazine. I have no idea the actual age  or value of my engravings.  I would say that they are framed reproductions from the 50s of the original 19th century engravings. But what if its an original?

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The Midlands Antique Fair

| All things Antique, Antique fair

Since we moved, I’ve been on a mission to find a work table. A table which can host my myriad little beads, my tools and the other accoutrements of my trade. I have an idea in mind, not so big because it has to fit in our house but big enough for all my things, some drawers to put in my things and preferably antique.  Its been surprisingly difficult to find this table. It was with this mission in mind that we’ve been trying to visit the bigger antique fairs

One antique fair we recently visited was the Midlands Antiques and Collectible Fair. And it is a huge fair. It houses several buildings and myriad stalls outside its extensive grounds. I had high hopes.

It started off well enough especially when I saw one stand’s beautiful collection of antique perfume bottles. They were mostly from Austria and Czechoslavakia from the turn of the century and they were exported to the US in the 40s/50s. Each one seemed like miniature masterpieces but as I was looking for a table, I reluctantly left them behind.

perfume bottles

Then I saw this absolutely gorgeous music box. According to the seller it is a Regina music box, which was one of the premier  music box makers in the US in the 19th century and this particular beauty is from 1898.  He very kindly played it for us and the music was beautiful and full-bodied. regina music box

So far no table in sight but outside we saw this gorgeous antique trunk from the late 19th century. This one still bears the name of the German family who used the trunk to travel to the US. I don’t know why this trunk moved me so much. I suppose its the idea of this trunk once holding a family’s worldly possessions as they crossed the ocean into a new life. It made me wonder how they fared and how this trunk came to be sitting here in an antique fair, waiting for a new life to start. german trunk

By this time, I had given up on finding a table. This fair didn’t seem to be the sort where I would find it but I was happy to have seen some gorgeous objects.  So now, the question needs to be asked–did I come home empty handed?

Tune in tomorrow for the answer….

 

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A Moretti bead bracelet

| All things Antique, Jewelry, New pieces

Red Black Moretti braceletHello friends, as promised, here is the bracelet I was working on yesterday. I am especially happy with this one as it incorporates several elements I love– antique beads, semi-precious stones and a newly learned technique!

The red and black beads were a bit of an unusual find for me because I actually found them in a bead shop rather than in an antique shop.  I normally never find anything in bead stores, except for findings and such but this time, Zahia, a really cool bead store in Antwerp, had some stock of old Moretti beads.  Not a lot but enough for me to be really happy that day!

Ercole Moretti et F.lli is one of the oldest bead making companies in Italy. It was started in Venice, Italy in 1911 by a family of glass makers.  They created an enormous amount of beads that eventually made their way to the African continent thanks to the bead trade.  Their most famous work is probably the Rosetta bead (otherwise known was the Chevron bead) though this bead was originally invented in 1480. They are one of the few bead companies that still exist today in Venice.

These particular red and black beads that I did buy from Zahia date back from their 1930 stock.  It belongs to this family of beads pictured below and they are opaque ground beads. Despite their great age, they hardly look worn and the red and black color scheme looks as good now as it did back in those days. Moretti beads 2To mix it up a bit, I decided to use these faceted black spinels rather than more glass beads.  I love gemstones and this is a good way to incorporate them to my usual work.   To top it all off, I used my newly acquired wire-wrapping skill!

 

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Work in progress

| New pieces

Hello friends, today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I wanted to share with you a work in progress. I’m pretty excited about this piece which I hope to finish by today and share with you tomorrow.  Its going to feature antique Moretti beads, faceted black spinel and wire-wrapping! Hope you are all having a nice day!

work in progress 1

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Almost wordless Wednesday

| Daily life

Despite the complete absence of a green thumb in our family, the flowers in our garden seem to be thriving.

I love how the roses have climbed all over the fence and

roses

I think these little daisies have such cheerful faces.

daisies

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The Orphan Master’s Son- a book review

| Reading pleasures

 

The Orphan Master's sonHello friends, I finally got around to one of the books on my summer reading and I’m pretty happy to have finished it! I should’ve maybe started with an easier read from my list but I was inspired to read The Orphan Master’s Son because this was my book club’s choice for the summer.

The Orphan Master’s Son is a pretty hefty book and definitely not a light read.  It takes on as its subject, life in the Hermit Kingdom, otherwise known as North Korea.  The narrator is Jun Do and before the book ends, we see him live different lives and play different roles.

Johnson does a great job of painting a vivid and bleak picture of what life must be like in North Korea  thanks in large part to the huge amount of research he undertook as well as a closely supervised visit to the country. But what makes this book really sing is the scope of his imagination because research alone is not enough to convey the minutiae of life and the way he wields language to show us this life.  Terrible, ugly things are depicted here but Johnson is equally adept in writing passages of delicacy and beauty.

 My favorite passage in the book is between a father and son..

There is a talk that every father has with his son in which he brings the child to understand that there are ways we must act, things we must say, but inside we are still us, we are family….He told me that there was a path set out for us. On it we had to do everything the signs commanded and heed all the announcements along the way. Even if we walked this path side by side, he said, we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands….Inside is where the son and the father will always be holding hands.”

For me this sums up beautifully what the book aims to show us about the Hermit Kingdom.

 

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Glass from Gablonz

| Jewelry, New pieces

DSCN3494

Hello friends, I hope your week is off to a good start! As promised in yesterday’s post, a lot of lovely new pieces are going to make their way to the Etsy shop but I wanted to tell you more about two bracelets in particular.

When I set out to make jewelry, I started with the basic round beads. They were easy to use  and using them successfully encouraged me to continue with more ambitious projects.   Now, I love the unusually shaped beads because it forces me to think of creative ways to use them. But I’d never actually worked with rectangular shaped ones till I found the beads pictured here in a small brocante. I arrived close to the end of the afternoon and vendors were starting to pack up. Almost at the end of one row of stalls, was a man with boxes and boxes of buttons and tassels.  I didn’t really expect to find any beads because he explained that most of his stock came from an  old mercerie (haberdashery shop).  Sewing is not my strong suit, so I passed up on the  buttons but  before leaving I decided to open one   last box and to my great surprise I found these square shaped beads.

I have to tell you that they are just so beautifully faceted.    I don’t think these pictures do it justice but these beads are faceted almost like  gemstones. And while I try not to have particular favorites with my pieces, the way the all black  bracelet catches the light is just spectacular.   DSCN3493

Of course, I was immediately obsessed with finding out more about them. And it wasn’t  easy to determine their origins.   Black square bracelet 1

After reading a number of books and comparing other similarly faceted beads, I think that they are most likely from Gablonz, a village in Northern Bohemia, in what is now Czech Republic and they date back to the late 20s early 30s. Gablonz was a renowned center for glass making. There have been glass workers there since at least the 18th century.   They were matched only by the Venetians in skill and output and glass production was at its height in the 19th century.  Unfortunately, times have since greatly changed and the industry is sadly diminished.  There just isn’t the same demand for glass beads, production costs have soared and there are cheaper (though lesser quality) alternatives.

Black square bracelet2

I’m afraid that one day the glass makers of Gablonz will close their doors permanently. I count myself lucky to have at least found some pieces with which to make new jewelry. Hopefully these lovely bracelets will find lovely new owners. At least then, this beautiful glass work won’t be totally lost for good.

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Nice pieces coming in the week

| New pieces

Hello friends, did you have a good weekend? I hope it was filled with good moments with family and friends.

DPM collage2

I spent some time preparing some beautiful pieces for the week and I wanted to give you a sneak peek!

 

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Sweet treat Saturday

| Daily life

sweet treat

 

I can’t resist sweet treats. And these cupcakes (lemon and carrot cake) really hit the spot. What are your favorite sweet treats? I’d love to hear..

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

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Ikat from Uzbek

| All things Antique

uzbek coat1

 

Hello friends, today I wanted to share the photo of the Uzbek coat which inspired yesterday’s piece. The colors were what attracted me to it and when I was told it was an antique coat from Uzbekistan, my imagination was caught. I had images of the fabled Silk Road going through my mind as I tried the coat on.

I don’t know much about textile but I do love unusual and colorful patterns. Often, these unusual and colorful patterns have a certain history behind them too.  I love the idea of stories behind everyday objects.  Much like beads, fabric can tell us so much about ourselves, our history, our culture and the way we perceive things.

Back to my ikat coat, it turns out that the term ikat is used to refer to both the cloth and the weave.  It is a very old dyeing technique that originated in Southeast Asia and subsequently spread all over the region. The oldest piece of ikat is believed to be a piece of funerary cloth from Indonesia which dates back from the 14th century. It reached its zenith in the 19th century with the fabled ikat of Central Asia, specifically the ikat from Uzbekistan!  So renowned was the beauty of the Uzbek Ikat that they were used as currency along the Silk Road.  In Uzbekistan, the weavers of ikat even grew their own mulberry trees for the silk they subsequently used to  weave the beautiful cloth. The more ornate and complicated the pattern, the more difficult it was to make and thus denoted much status for the wearer.   It came to symbolize wealth and richness.

When I read that these beautiful fabrics were used for trade, it seemed even more fitting that this coat inspired my bracelet of yesterday whose beads were also once used for trade many many centuries ago.

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When inspiration strikes

| Jewelry, Uncategorized

DSCN0226

 

So far I’ve been very lucky in my bead hunting. I’ve found some beads in pristine condition, while others are in great condition. This is a miracle given their age and the often dusty conditions I’ve found them in.  Sometimes though I’ll find some beads that are irresistible but  upon closer look are not the easiest to work with. One example is this group of trade beads that I found in a small Parisian brocante. They are pink and green with a sort of silvery streak and the bead core is white.  Several beads were very badly chipped and a lot of the colors had rubbed off.  But I hadn’t seen this combination before and I finally brought them home. Once home I did some research and it turns out that this kind of bead dates back to the 19th century, the early half of the 19th century! I was happy that I took a chance with them.  Unfortunately,  it was a disaster when I tried to work on them. Several beads lost even more of their colors  and a few even broke. I stopped at that point and thought that I’d save them for my collection of loose beads.  That was a year and a half a go.

Fast forward to a a few weeks ago– I took a trip and found myself buying a vintage Uzbek coat with a gorgeous color palette of dusty pink and green.  Then somehow I got a strand of faceted pink topaz and I started thinking how beautiful these colors were and how well they worked together. I woke up this morning thinking suddenly of those green and pink trade beads from awhile back.

And somehow (perhaps my beading stars were aligned right), those pink topaz beads, little as they are, fit perfectly over the trade beads.  The happy result is this bracelet. It certainly took time to put this one together but the result is well worth the wait.

pink and green trade bead 1

 

 

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Antique Hunting in the town of Allen

| All things Antique

allen3

As anyone who knows me can attest, I love antiques and antique hunting.  So when I heard about an antique town, it was like a siren call I could not resist. Unfortunately, by the time we rolled into the town of Allen, most of the antique stores were winding down for the day.  Disappointment at that was somewhat tempered by the idea of coming back and doing a proper trip and we were charmed by the setting of some of the antique stores.

Just look at these stores set amongst the woods. They lend an almost fairy tale aspect to the whole place!

allen 1

Isn’t this just darling?allen4I can’t wait to go back!

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Learning something new

| Jewelry

wirewrap beads

 

My path to jewelry making was never a planned route.  In a way this non-traditional path has enabled me to experiment and create a bit “out of the box”. I did a lot of things that I probably could’ve (or shoul’dve) done another way if I had proper training.  Today, I want to talk about learning something new in my craft.

I just realized recently, that one technique, I should’ve learned, is the wire-wrapping technique.  This is a particular technique which secures beads onto findings.   Now it sounds like simple enough idea to wrap a bead but as with everything else there is a particular technique to it. In fact, its not as easy as it sounds. It requires a certain dexterity and  patience because sometimes the wire doesn’t do what I want it to do.  So the whole of yesterday was spent  learning and trying to master this technique.

After the umpteenth try, I began to get the technique but I realized too that the real challenge lies in being able to execute the technique flawlessly and consistently.  Before I gave up for the night, I wire-wrapped this pair of beads that eventually, I want to turn into a pair of earrings.  Its not a bad outcome for a day’s work, but you can see too that I need to work on proportions and making them the same size. wirewrap earrings

Oh well, learning new things is a way of bringing freshness to my work. It opens up possibilities!

What about you dear friends,what new things have you learned recently? Is there a new skill you want to learn? I’d love to hear from you.

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French and Czech Beads with Spinels and Pink Topaz

| Uncategorized

new beads

 

Friends, I’m very excited to start the week because I have a pile of new beads to work with. Just look at my new finds, aren’t they so pretty? I have great mix of vibrant red French pate de verre, gorgeous pink and gold Czech foil beads and some Swarovski rondelles for good measure. I can’t wait to work with them!

And as if that wasn’t enough, I also have some beautiful new gemstones to work with. I love my antique glass beads but I love gemstones too! And its hard to resist these faceted black spinels and pink topaz. They’re smaller than what I’m accustomed to but I’m looking forward to making beautiful pieces with them!!

black spinel and pink topaz

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Hudson Clearwater

| Scenes from our travels, Uncategorized

Hudson clearwater1

One of the things I really enjoy when traveling is discovering new restaurants. I especially like the hidden tiny gems that are far from maddening crowd.  In a city like New York, you are spoilt for choice so it can be difficult if not daunting to find a good one.  But I had heard of small restaurant hidden in the West Village.  The idea that it was hidden was what sold me to the idea of trying this particular one.

When we arrived at the address given for Hudson Clearwater, the entrance wasn’t immediately clear.   After looking around a bit, we realized that the entrance was a small green side door.  It opened to a tiny little courtyard and we were immediately charmed.

Hudson Clearwater2It wasn’t very big inside but it was certainly bustling. With its exposed brick walls and  candles lighting the tables Hudson Clearwater has a very cozy ambiance.   The cuisine is robust and well-executed American fare.  I started my dinner with their butter clam gnocchi dish which was excellent. The clams were served with the gnocchi in this delicious broth that was made for dipping the crostini bread it was served with.  If there was one must-order dish from this restaurant, its definitely this one.

For the main dish I went with the crispy duck breast served on a bed of vegetables.  I normally don’t order duck but this one was quite tender and well cooked.  It was flavorful with the vegetables complementing the meat perfectly.  All in all a good dish even if you’re not a fan of duck.

As if weren’t full enough, we decided to go ahead and order dessert. It wasn’t completely reasonable on our part but its hard to regret that when the chocolate banana pudding we ordered prove to be scrumptious! It was a huge portion but I’m happy to report that the balance between chocolate and banana was perfectly proportioned.

A charming location, great food and good service. What more can we ask for? This is definitely a keeper!

Details:

Hudson Clearwater

447 Hudson St. NYC

212 989 3255

 

 

 

 

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Summer reading

| Reading pleasures

summer fair1

 

 

Long the winter may have been, summer’s going to have its way.  Its finally here along with the Summer fair with its rides and popcorn fare, the smell of barbecue grilling and the long awaited family vacation. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to pack up a bunch of books that I’ve been wanting to read and bring them along to wherever we may end up going. Often, the books outweigh all the clothes I need but summer to me means more time to read all those books I’ve been eyeing during the rest of the year. So I thought I would share with you some of the books in my reading list…

The Orphan Master’s Son -this book has garnered a lot of critical praise and has won the  the Pulitzer Prize.  Prize aside, what intrigues me is the writer’s depiction of North Korea, one of the most closed societies of the world.  I am so curious to see the author’s depiction of this society and I would like to ask him how he this tale came into being.

The Painted Girls–set in Belle Epoque Paris, this is the story of two sisters, one of whom becomes the model became for Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.  I love historical fiction. I love the idea of imagining the stories behind artworks and historical figures.  And sometimes its good to be immersed in another period altogether.

Detroit: An American Autopsy– I think its only fair to learn more about this notorious city with such contrasting faces. Crime ridden yet blessed with one of the country’s best art collections. I want to know more.

The Fault in our Stars— I’ve been a fan of John Green since I read Looking for Alaska  so I’m really looking forward to his newest one. It has cancer in it though so I’m preparing a box of tissues.

Paris Haute Couture– This is a comprehensive history of Parisian high fashio.  Good enough reason for me to read it!

Market Day in Provence— Provencal markets have such romantic allure. I love markets.  But this book dissects the mechanisms behind such markets and dissects its economic workings and implications.  That’s quite a different take on markets and I’m curious to see what the author has to say. Plus, its set in the beautiful town of Carpentras of which I have many fond memories of.  I can’t wait!

How about you dear friends, what’s on your summer reading list?

 

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Who’s idea was it anyway?

| My thoughts on

One of the reasons I like twitter so much is because I get to read a constant stream of news from all over. And since I make jewelry, I follow a lot of fashion related news tweets. One of the stories that caught my interest recently is about a brewing “fight” between Vena Cava and Alice + Olivia, two relatively young and cool brands.  Vena Cava accused Alice + Olivia of copying one of their prints from the 2012 collection. (read the full story here).  This is the print in question (photo courtesy of http://www.racked.com), with the one on the right belonging to Vena Cava and Alice + Olivia on the left.

 Vena Cava Olive Alicia

But are these original prints to begin with? Its not. Both designers both admit that they were inspired by other prints when they came up with these dresses, one by a vintage dress owned by one of the designers and the other by a vintage wall screen.

The idea of being copied is something we all have to contend with but its especially true in the case of designers.  Creating a piece of art, or jewelry, or clothing is in a lot of ways a very personal matter.  It involves putting a lot of oneself in each piece which makes the issue of being copied really personal in turn.  But how can you protect yourself and your ideas from being copied? Having an online presence makes it even easier to be copied because your designs are out there for all the world to see.  Unless you’re name is Gucci or Chanel (and even Chanel doesn’t manage to win all its trademark battles as this story shows), its very hard to trademark something you’ve created.   Legal and financial difficulties aside, how can you prove that your design is really yours and is truly original? Is anything ever truly original and born without being influenced by something else?

This is something I think about long and often. I like to think that what I create is truly original and one of a kind. I take pride in the fact that no two pieces are the same and once something has sold, I cannot repeat the same piece. So you get an original in that way. But I’m also endlessly inspired by so many other artists and just about everything can be an inspiration.  These influences can’t help but filter through in my work.  I suppose I draw the line at taking someone’s design or idea and replicating it exactly or so close to the original as to be almost indistinguishable.  Is this a good line to draw? Or does it leave too much leeway?  I don’t know. What I do know is that I can (and should) get inspired but I won’t ever copy.

Now did Alice + Olivia copy Vena Cava? They’re certainly very similar to each other. But maybe its a really popular look or color scheme because look at this dress I just got from a recent trip..

photo-60

At least mine has ribbons in it!

 

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My favorite apps

| Daily life

 

Used to be that I had a trusty old phone that (mostly) worked which meant it called and texted people when I wanted to.  Bonus, it even had my emails on! Why did I need to load it up with all the fancy thingamajigs called apps? To be honest, I didn’t even know what they were.

A move to the other side of the Atlantic necessitated a change in phones. My seemingly trusty phone was just not going to cut it.  And I admit, I got sort of sales talked into getting the Iphone. And voila, I was thrown into the world of apps. The sales assistant who was almost comically disbelieving about my absolute lack of interest in apps, explained to me that these were just “features you added to your phone in order to utilize the phone’s capacity to the max”. I kid you not. I thought we were using the phone’s capacity when we called and sent messages, but apparently it was not enough.

So, what did I do? I loaded it up with usual social media applications which I’m sure we’re all familiar with. Then as I went on, I added a few more which it turns out, were completely essential. So I don’t have favorites but I do have what I think are essentials.

weather app

Precisely because its not always this kind of weather where I live, that I need the weather app!  Bonus, you can add other countries so you can keep track and not feel too bad for yourself when its still 9 degrees in Paris, in June!!

flashlight appBecause I never know if I’m going to be stuck somewhere dark and I’ll need a flashlight. Plus I have the impression to be like Indiana Jones, if I’ve at least got a flashlight handy on me. Downsize is that it eats the battery up so if they could invent an app to prolong the phone battery, that would be something I could add to my powerhouse lineup of apps!

 

 

appriva pay app

And last but certainly not the least, the Appriva Pay app. This folks is my absolute favorite app.  What it does is turns your phone into a mobile payment solution system. In other words, people can buy from you with their credit cards anywhere you are and you just whip out your phone and the sale is on.  I don’t have an actual store (yet) where I sell my jewelry and at every fair I’ve done, its always been the traditional way of payment.  There have been a number of times when people couldn’t buy from me because they had only their credit cards.  This little app has changed the way I do business.  Immensely. And what boggles my mind is that its all in my phone.

 

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All about Chanel No.5

| Reading pleasures

vintage chanel no 5 ad

Currently ongoing in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo is an exhibit on Chanel No.5.  Such is the stature of this iconic perfume that a whole exhibit has been dedicated to it.  If, however you don’t have time to see this exhibit, there is a way of knowing more about this perfume without having to leave the comfort of your home.  Thanks to Tilar Mazzeo’s The Secret of Chanel No 5we are treated to a thoroughly researched yet engrossingly told tale of how one of the world’s most famous perfumes came into being and how its success was almost against its creator’s will.

Chanel no 5 book

What’s really great about this book is its creative non-fiction style.  Mazzeo defines this as  “the art of writing truthfully and accurately about history while using the techniques of compelling storytelling.”  I love that she is able to take what could otherwise be a dry collection of facts and  turns it into a story that’s much more about a perfume. It becomes instead a tale of a strong-willed woman and the times she lived in. With this book, we visit the perfume region of Grasse and Paris, of course.  And we learn so many intriguing things too–to cite one, Chanel’s sublime indifference to marketing what ultimately became her signature perfume.  Another thing to appreciate from this book is the wealth of information in the book which speaks to the enormous research that went into it.  the book makes it clear that an enormous amount of research went into this book.

I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that when I finished it, I wanted to go and douse myself in the heady scent of Chanel No.5

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Trade bead collection-all in red

| Etsy, New pieces

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Hello friends, I hope the weekend has been grand and you are all ready for another week! Do you ever wear red on Mondays?  I don’t know where I picked it up from but I always try to wear something red on Monday in the belief that its gives me a powerful boost of energy.  So what better way to wear red than with these new pieces from the Trade Bead Collection.

Trade bead is the name given to beads that were produced mostly in Venice but also in Czechoslovakia and Germany and  were subsequently used for trade in the African continent.  Venetian bead production started as early as the 17th (with some historians saying that it is possible it may have started in the 16th) but the exportation of beads was at its height in the 19th century. These beads were used as currency with different countries favoring one kind of bead design over the other.

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These beads were first packed in Europe in barrels or crates for the long journey by sea then subsequently  carried in camel caravans across the dusty deserts till they reached their final destination in the various African kingdoms.  Some beads even made their way even further, traveling across the Pacific before landing in Asia.DSCN3695

 

I love working with these beads.  They’ve travelled so far before coming into my hands. I  imagine what stories they would tell if they could just talk.  And I feel that its but another stop with me before they make their way once more into another person’s life.red with rondelles1

 

 

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These pieces are now available in the shop!

 

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The dream that is Venice

| Scenes from our travels

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I have nothing but the loveliest memories of Venice.  Its such a magical city, almost dreamlike in its allure. How can I not adore a city that has produced so much of those wonderful antique beads I now have the pleasure of working with?  And I am only one among its many admirers, Byron perhaps being one of its more lyrical ones. So I was devastated when I came across an article on the New York Review of Books titled The Coming Death of Venice?

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The article lists down the ills that beset the city and to say that its troubling is an understatement. Venice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Since then, the number of tourists have risen in staggering numbers. A big number of these tourists come in those gigantic cruise ships that ply the route in the Mediterranean.   They come into  the city and disgorged literally thousands of people onto St. Marks Square.  Unfortunately these great numbers have taken a heavy toll on the city because Venice simply wasn’t built to accommodate such numbers.  And because there is, as yet, not firm plan to handle such massive numbers, nor a plan to make tourism support the city, the problem is greatly aggravated.

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As a tourist myself (though the closest we ever got to a boat was a water taxi), it was disturbing to read how much our mere presence could endanger this lovely city.  I imagine that you dear readers, much as I, are never really quite aware when visiting other places, that our presence could take a toll. We are there to enjoy its newness, discover its charms and partake of local culture. We chafe at the lines outside the museums and historical sites but respect nonetheless the limits it sets.  We try to blend in with locals and do our best to avoid being that obnoxious traveller.  But, do we ever ask ourselves, at what price we enjoy all this? All this newness and wonder of discovery?

Venice seems to tells us that our mere presence exacts a heavy toll.  Because of the way it was built, all these big numbers cause pollution levels to skyrocket, it disturbs the fragile moorings of those beautiful buildings we so admire and worse, cause the water levels to rise above what the city is prepared to handle.  The problem of flooding is now only a matter of when, not if.

But if there were no people like you and I visiting the City, then there would also be much less jobs for the people who rely heavily on tourism not to mention much less money generated by all the tourists buying souvenirs and enjoying the delicious restaurants. What would all those gondoliers do if we were to all stop visiting? Like it or not, there are lots of lives that depend on the visitors. The city would still be lost if the people who live in it have no means to live.

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The answer may lie in the fact that Venice needs us and we need Venice. We need to be aware of the toll it takes for the city to welcome us.  So let’s be light footed visitors and travelers doing our bit to save this city (or for that matter any other city we find ourselves in).  We need to preserve this magical city full of gorgeous color saturated buildings and wonderful art work, the least of which are those wonderful beads, some of which are still being blown the old traditional way.  And we need to actively support those who would fight, yes fight, to preserve Venice.

See all these pictures I took?  I want to be able to go back to Venice and show these sights to my children. I want to share with them the beauty that so enchanted me and make new memories.  And if to preserve Venice, there comes a  day when limits are set on the number who can come and when, then I will follow. Because at least then, I will know that Venice still exists and not only in faded old dreams.

 

 

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Little Folks Pleasure Book

| All things Antique

Little folks pleasure book

 

 

 

My find of the week was a bit of a surprise.  As always I was on the lookout for beads (all for work of course) but there was a dearth of interesting beads at the flea market we visited.  No matter, I consoled myself, I’ll have better luck elsewhere. It was just before leaving that I spotted this book. I think it was the title that caught my attention.  I love children’s books especially older editions.  This one definitely looked old. And according to the seller it was at least 100 years old! Little folks colored page

 

I think the deal was pretty much sealed when I saw the colored illustration. I love the delicate hand that drew all the details you can see. I love its soft faded color that speaks of bygone days. And I wonder why its the only page that’s colored even though the rest of the stories are nonetheless beautifully illustrated in black and white.   The stories themselves are short tales with a moral at the end.

Unfortunately the book is in very poor condition. The pages have completely come off the spine and I’m half afraid of opening it for fear of damaging it even more.  And I probably need to find someone who can restore it.    little folks3

 

 

 

I would also love more information about my book. Does anybody know anything about these books? I’d love to hear from you.little folks2

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