July 2014 archive

Monday’s desk

| Beads, Vintage finds

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Hello friends, how is the start of your week? I too, am back at my work desk, sorting out beads and things to make lovely new pieces. Today, I thought I’d show you what I have lined up .  First up are these vintage charms that I think would make lovely focal pieces. The big cross is composed of lovely green glass and dates back to the 40s while the guilloche pendant is actually a small perfume dispenser from the late 30s. Aren’t they pretty?   The enamel pair is a bit of a mystery. I haven’t quite figured out where it was made though it has a vaguely Asian air to it.  I was quite attracted to it because of its lovely vibrant color. I’m thinking of making some simple earrings with them.

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My week wouldn’t be complete of course without some beads! This group of four big beads are all from Murano, Italy and features their distinctive gold foil work.  They date back to the 60s.   Now I love gold foil beads but there’s something quite special about the  black and white striped bead.  This one is definitely a pendant don’t you think? 20140728-105306-39186922.jpgAnd finally, some pretty pink beads that are going to be all dressed up with some gold bead caps. Perhaps there will be earrings from this group or a pendant. The possibilities are endless…

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Happy Friday

| Friday links

Lakeview

Well friends, the work week is drawing to a close  and as I look at my calendar, I can’t believe how quickly this summer is flying by! Its almost August! Have you been on holiday? Or are you looking forward to going on one?  In honor of all things vacation, here’s a short round up of fun vacation related links…

Beachfront libraries –easily the most awesome idea EVER.  Where do I sign up?!

While we are on the subject of vacation and books, here’s a roundup of beautiful bookstores worth making a special trip for.

Are you a fiend for flea markets like I am? This list is for you!

And finally, because whether you’re going to the beach or backpacking, you always need a good book to keep you company. Here are nine new novels worth taking with you..

Have a good weekend everyone!

 

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Throwback Thursday: La Dolce Vita

| Scenes from our travels, Throwback Thursday, Travels

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Hello friends, for this Throwback Thursday post, I thought I’d share a few photos from our last trip to Italy. As a vacation destination, its hard to beat Italy. There is so much culture and history for culture buffs, gorgeous views, be it of the city or the countryside, delicious food and wine and of course, who can resist gelatos? It truly is one of my favorite places to visit.

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This time around we thought we’d visit Florence. This city which is synonymous with Medici dominance has a lot going for it.  It is a fairly compact city with most major historic sites within walking distance. To fully appreciate its charms, one must come many times, the better to take in all it has to offer. 

There is of course no shortage of churches to visit, most notably the Duomo of Florence with its gorgeous facade made entirely of marble.  The view from its rooftop is impressive which is somewhat a consolation because its’ interior is (funnily enough) not as impressive as its exterior.

For beautiful frescoes and art, it is the Church of Santa Croce that you must see.  One can easily spend hours in this church, marveling at everything.  There are as well a number of prominent people buried in this church,  notably Michaelangelo.

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For much of Florentine history, the Piazza de Signoria has been the gathering place of its people.   Fra Savonarola gave his incendiary speeches here and it is likewise here that he met his fiery end.  Nowadays, it is crowded with camera toting tourists and the cafes that throng the Piazza are full.  While we were there, it was the site of a vintage car exhibit which drew as many people as the Uffizi galleries, not far from the Piazza.

20140724-100022-36022157.jpgA visit to Florence wouldn’t be complete without strolling through the Ponte Vecchio. At least to try to stroll as much as you can given the huge crowd that always seems to be on the bridge!  Crowd or not, the view of the Arno river from the bridge is beautiful.  To capture this view of the Ponte Vecchio, cross over to one of the other bridges.

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The Ponte Vecchio is lined from one end to another with jewelry shops, all proudly carrying on the Florentine tradition of goldsmithing and jewelry making.   The bridge however wasn’t always the site of such pretty objects.  In its earlier history, the Ponte Vecchio was the home of numerous Florentine butcher shops.  In 1593,  Duke Ferdinando I of the Medicis moved the goldsmiths here in an effort to boost the city’s beauty and in order to attract higher end customers.   Now, its impossible to imagine the bridge without all the jewelry shops, so entrenched are they here.20140723-084137-31297508.jpg

This is but one shop among the many that crowd the bridge…

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It wasn’t on Ponte Vecchio however that I found my own personal souvenir to take back with me. On one of the tiny side streets that radiate out of the Duomo, I found a tiny jewelry workshop.  Consigli di Anna  had a beautiful display of jewelry which of course, I could not resist. It turns out that the owner Anna has been making jewelry for 25 years in this tiny shop.  Her work mostly uses natural stones and gems and she still makes every piece herself. Her shop is a virtual cavern of treasures and I found myself looking at every single item.

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I was heartened to see her work desk with its jumble of stones and tools of the trade. Seems I’m not the only one who works in, how shall I say it–glorious disarray.20140723-084134-31294238.jpg

After what seemed like hours of looking and trying on every thing in the store, I settled for this pair of delicate pearls and Mediterranean coral. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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Of course all that walking around is enough to work up quite an appetite, and this being Italy, there is no shortage of restaurants and gelaterias, some of which are more of a tourist trap than authentic Italian fare.  However, we lucked out and found La Mescita, tiny place frequented by locals since 1927. While they serve only limited number of pasta dishes and a dish of the day, it was perfectly delicious and while partaking this meal, we had the impression of truly living la dolce vita.

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New additions to the jewelry box

| Beads, New pieces

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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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A shorter length

| New pieces

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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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Working with a rose patina

| New pieces

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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 brass and copper resulting in a pinkish gold hue.  The older it is, the more copper seeps into the mix 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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Throwback Thursday: a circlet of green

| Beads, Throwback Thursday

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 bead jewelry

| Bead adventures, Reading pleasures

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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!

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Blue and gold

| Beads, New pieces

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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