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A long weekend

IMG_6408.JPGHello friends, its a long weekend in our part of the world and I know that for many, its the last hurrah before buckling down to school work.  I hope wherever you are, you’ve got wonderful plans ahead of you.

Before leaving, I wanted to share a few fun links…

Here’s a list of a couple of good Labor day reads.  I’m very excited about Amy Bloom’s new book, she’s one of my favorite authors!!

Speaking of books, I love trilogies, well-written ones at least.  Nothing like a good trilogy to lose oneself in.  Here’s a list of some great trilogies.

And just because this post is shaping up to be all about books, here’s a list of wonderful books coming out in the fall. Marilynne Robinson, William Gibson and Margaret Atwood are just some of the authors on this list, so its really something to look forward to!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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On my work desk

IMG_6443.JPGHello friends, today I though I’d share with you the beginnings of a new piece.  I know its not quite the end of summer but somehow I feel the start of fall. Maybe its all the back to school announcements or the leaves that have started to drift down to our garden, whatever it is, I found myself gravitating towards these dark blue vintage beads. They would make for a lovely piece to wear during the progressively colder months.  Can’t wait to show you how it turns out!

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Pineapple beads (or more beads from the bead box)

IMG_6189.JPGI know that in Monday’s post, I said that wedding cake beads are one of my favorite beads but its really hard to actually choose just one favorite. I think it’ll be like asking which of your kids you prefer.  So today, I’m featuring another bead that I’m pretty obsessed with. The pineapple bead, specifically the pink pineapple.

Isn’t that the funniest name for a bead? I think the name must have come about because of the cross-hatch of lines running throughout the bead as well as the many eyes that decorate it.   It does do a good job of describing this bead. Now, my hands down preferred pineapple is of course the pink version. An antique dealer once told me that the early Venetian bead makers, skilled as they were in making beads, couldn’t make bright pink colored beads.  This was just something they couldn’t do because at that time, synthetic dyes were unavailable and they had to make do with what was found in nature or that they could produce from natural substances.  As such, all their pink colored beads were of the lighter hue. Any bright neon colored fuschia colored beads were of much much later production when synthetic chemicals were introduced.

Thus, the pink pineapples are thus one of the older beads in the Venetian catalog of beads.  These ones that I have probably date back to the mid to late 1800s.  They are increasingly more difficult to find and I lucked out because a collector consented to sell me some beads from her collection.  I think I’m going to just enjoy them for a bit before trying to do anything with them.

Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these particular favorites of mine!

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Wedding cake beads


Hello friends, I hope your week is off to a rousing start! I like to start the week by wearing something red. Someone once told me that it gives the wearer a boost of energy and that has stuck with me ever since.  I’ve chosen to interpret this as including red colored beads. Fortunately for me, wedding cake beads, one of my favorite kind of bead, comes in different shades of red! And so I thought I’d share with you what I have in my bead box.

The first set (pictured above) have the distinctive floral trailings of a Venetian wedding cake bead.  They date back to the very early years of the 1900s.  And I’m fortunate to have found in very good condition though I wasn’t able to buy the entire strand.  The seller had already sold half the strand by the time I came along. Most of the trailings are still intact and there is hardly any decoration loss. There is a pair of earrings in the shop right now with these beads.

The second set of red wedding cake beads is a strand I acquired during my last trip in Paris.  These too have the distinctive floral design but in addition they have the white squiggly lines running across the beads. Sometimes, collectors refer to this kind of bead as latticino beads.  Latticino is an old Italian technique of decorating the glass with colored glass canes.  These beads date back to the 20s/30s.   I was fortunate enough to have found a long strand of these beads but they do need to be re-strung.  I think I’m keeping these beads.

IMG_6191.JPGHere are the two strands together. And if you have sharp eyes, you’ll see two beads that don’t belong to either strand..

IMG_6194.JPGDid you spot them? These are the red wedding cake beads from the 1940s which  I bought from a reputable dealer of antique beads from Venice.  They are slightly smaller and are a bit more uniform in size than the older two examples I have.  I decided to make a sautoir style necklace with them and the two you see with the rest are all that’s left from the lot.  This necklace is available in the shop!



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Bead photo of the day


Today I wanted to share one of the recent additions to my bead box. It’s a rare Venetian white fancy floral bead that dates back to the late 1800s. It has lost some of it’s trailings but it’s overall condition is still good considering it’s age. I’m very happy to add this to my collection as finding them is starting to be difficult not to mention expensive.
Now my dilemma is what to make with it. Any ideas?

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Monday’s new piece


Hello friends, in all the excitement and work over the site’s new look, I haven’t had the chance to finish this piece which I started awhile back. Today’s gray and rainy weather proved conducive to finishing this necklace.  I’ve had these twisted peach colored 40s beads from Bohemia awhile but haven’t had the chance to use them.  In fact, it was part of a packet of beads that I bought at one of my first forays in the Parisian brocantes.  I loved their shape and the lady selling them told me, she had gotten them from someone who used to make jewelry too.  Isn’t it great that these beads are finally in a finished piece?


    I started this piece with the idea of making a sort of double bead with them and adding vintage crystal rondelles. Then I realized, the peachy color of these beads would make a pretty match to one of my antique French pendants. Somehow the peach colors set off the rosy patina of this 19th century necklace.  To make it different from the other necklaces featuring the antique pendants, I decided to do a double strand necklace.  Eh voila…you see the finished piece! IMG_5956-2.JPGNow available in the shop!

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A Florentine house


Perhaps it’s a sign of the times we live in but everywhere we’ve been in recent times, at least one or two historic monuments have been covered in scaffolding or tarp.  I know, I know. It’s necessary especially when it involves restoration work on historic monuments.  But it can be quite frustrating.  Florence, during our last visit, wasn’t an exception.  The Baptistry of St. John is currently undergoing some work and is all covered up. But unlike the usually tarp and wood, the Baptistry is covered in the  signature print and color of the House of Pucci.  They are sponsoring the work behind the Baptistry.  And because it is Pucci, it is extremely striking!

The House of Pucci,now synonymous with fashion and vibrant colors and prints, is actually a very old and noble Florentine house.  Their family Palazzo which also serves as the company’s headquarters in Via de Pucci in Florence, has the rare distinction of being occupied by the same family since its construction in the 16th century.

Emilio Pucci, put the house on the fashion map when he started designing sky wear in the late 40s.  His colorful and exuberant patterns caught the eye of many of the fashion cognoscenti.  Emilio’s designs and colors are still in use by the current designer of the label.  While in Florence, I had the chance to meet one of their in-house artists who works on the scarves. It was a fascinating conversation.

She explained that  every design begins with a mood board such as the one you see in the background of the picture below.  All the colors they use in current designs are still those originally conceived by Emilio in the 40s. And while they now use machines to produce their scarves, extreme care is taken to ensure that their colors are exactly the same as the original hues.

After coming up with a mood board, each design is painstakingly drawn and hand-colored before it is turned over to the silk printers.  Here she is at work on the limited edition scarves that have the same design as that covering the Baptistry of the St. John.


Here is a view of the scarves up close…IMG_5534.JPGThese commemorative scarves are beautiful, like mini-works of art themselves with their jewel hues.  To make them even more special, they are only available in the Pucci store in Florence.

IMG_5535.JPGI love learning about other people’s creative process and so it was quite a treat to catch a glimpse of one part of the working process of one of fashion’s most iconic labels.  Read more on our Florentine adventure in this post.

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Finally, an unveiling

20140806-115645-43005231.jpgHello friends, after a long silence, I’m finally back! Its taken awhile but here we are, ready to unveil the all new look of De Petites Merveilles.  I’m so happy to be able to share with you all, the fruits of weeks of work on the new logo and look of the site.   This is a step that I’ve long wanted to take but it’s only now that things finally came into place.  The process of working on the site has forced me to sit down and really articulate my vision of De Petites Merveiles. While, I’ve always had a fairly firm idea of what we are about,  the challenge  was how to convey the idea in a cohesive image or look, if you will. It is my hope that the new look conveys in the best possible way what we are all about.

One other thing I’m really proud to present is the shop section. Yes, there is now a shop section, complete with shopping cart and all, where people can purchase all the lovely pieces that were previously available only through art fairs and craft shows.  Woohoo!! I invite you to check it out. Keep in mind that I have a lot more that I will be adding continuously in the days to come.

To be sure, the process is an on-going one. There are a number of things that need to still be tweaked or improved and I want to ask your patience as I continue to work on things.  However, stay and look around. Enjoy the all new De Petites Merveilles!!!