Summer stackers 

| New pieces

Hello friends! Temperatures hit over the 90s this weekend and everyone was out enjoying the beautiful weather. And as summer is all about enjoying the outdoors, I’ve been making new pieces that are easy to wear, easy to layer and stack but still very pretty. As always these pieces are designed to slip right among those pieces you already have in your jewelry box. 

This first piece features a wonderful mid 19th century Venetian trade bead on a silver chain. I love the summery colors of teal blue, yellow and green on this bead! 


Nothing says classic more than pearls and this vintage French glass pearl is jazzed up with gold and silver decorative caps.

This necklace is perfect for adding just a touch of color to an all white outfit.


And finally, a necklace featuring a pretty early 20th century Venetian bead of sky blue and gold. 

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Some wonderful news

| New pieces, News, Shop news

Hello friends! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start. Mine certainly is as I’m very happy to announce that certain De Petites Merveilles pieces are now available at the Franklin Village Boutique!!


The boutique is ideally located in the historic village of Franklin. The village has cute stores and cafes as well as a cider mill that serves the most wonderful donuts and cider in the fall. 
Terri Cooper, owner of the Village Boutique opened her store 2 years ago. She bought out the owners of the store that used to be there because she says she walked in and felt something special about the space. Immediately, she knew she wanted to open her own store there.  After extensive renovations, her store opened, stocked with the latest fashions but also with local designers and artists. 


Terri believes firmly in having a welcoming and inviting space and she has succeeded admirably in this. I walked into her store and felt like this was a great place for my jewelry.  Talking to her and watching her interact with the people who walked in reinforced this feeling.  
She says the best part of being in the store is meeting all the people coming in and sharing in their lives. “People are so interesting, there’s layers to them just waiting to be discovered” she said to me.  


I love the fact that she believes in and supports local artists. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be carried by a store that still believes in hand crafted products. More importantly, my pieces are in a store that believes in treating everyone as a friend.  That’s increasingly rare in these days of efficient online shopping.

So which Petites Merveilles pieces have found a home at the Village boutique? Here are a few pieces….




I hope you stop by and check out this wonderful store!

Some details:

Franklin Village Boutique

32716 Franklin Road

Franklin, MI

248-8510055

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A match to make your day

| Beads, Jewelry, New pieces

Hello friends, remember these earrings?


After I finished this pair I was left with two of these pink and silver foil beads. At first I thought I would make another pair of earrings but I wasn’t convinced by this idea. I want my jewelry to be unique and one of a kind so another pair just wouldn’t do.

So I put them away. Then  I remembered that somewhere in my bead box was a lonesome silver foil bead that was the only one left after I finished a necklace. Now this little orphan bead is a really pretty bead with lots of silver foiling that has remained intact over the years. Just like the pink and silver beads, this one dates back to the early 1950s. In no time, this necklace was born…


I love how these lonesome one-of beads suddenly found themselves together to make a beautiful new piece.

And look how well the necklace goes with the earrings!


The earrings are now listed in the shop and the necklace will soon be added!

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A shop update full of earrings

| New pieces

I’ve been on an earring kick lately. Just check out these beauties that are now listed in the shop. These are all Venetians beads dating back to the period between the 40s and early 50s. What I love about these pairs is no two beads are exactly alike. Each bead has subtle differences that make them so interesting to wear. I like to think of it as the mark of the hands that made them. 

 


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One necklace for different looks

| Beads, Fashion, Jewelry, New pieces

When I make something, I always try to imagine it slipping into my jewelry box and getting along with everthing else that’s there. I also like it when the piece goes with lots of different looks. After all, we work hard, do different things so we want our jewelry to be equally versatile. That’s why I’m so happy with this new necklace.


Today’s piece is a simple enough necklace composed of multicolored crystal rondelles.  These rondelles date back to the early 40s and have clearly lived other lives. They’ve been well loved as evidenced by the missing crystals in each rondelle. When I saw these in Paris, I knew immediately that I wanted to make something with them. Yes, they aren’t perfect but I couldn’t bear to just throw them away. As it turns out, it goes with a  number of different looks. So far, I’ve come up with three looks to give you ideas on how to wear this beauty. 

If you’re feeling casual, it’s the perfect accessory to jazz up a shirt. Throw it over a tee, or in this case, a turtleneck since it’s still cold, and you’re good to go.


It’s also great for layering. I love it with another long chain over a simple black shirt.


This last look may yet be my favorite. When you want color and layers, it’s totally possible with this piece.


How would you wear this necklace? 

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Bookish adventures

| Daily life, Reading pleasures

One rainy misty afternoon, I finally managed to make my way down to John King books. I’d long heard about this 4 story institution devoted to books and I have long wanted to visit.

Well, it finally happened and I can tell you that it lives up to all the accolades it has earned over the years.


The bookstore was founded by Mr John King in 1971 and its original location was in Dearborn. It moved to its downtown location in 1983 when Mr King purchased the Advanced Glove factory. It later expanded to have two other locations though sadly, one of these two has recently closed.

They have an inventory of over a million titles divided among its two remaining branches thought the downtown one has a much larger inventory. It’s not far fetched to think they have a book on possibly every topic you can think of. No wonder it was once ranked no 2 of the world’s 18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit at Least Once. I’m keeping this list by the way and making it one of my goals to visit as many as I can. But I digress.


In this day and age where everything is digital and online, John King books is firmly on the old fashioned side. There is no computerized inventory except for their rare book collection. They cannot look up titles for you,  instead, they have booksellers who can direct your search for titles and then you’re on your own– to peruse the alphabetically arranged shelves and get lost in the warren of musty corridors of shelves lined with books and yet more books. When you come, don’t expect to surface for air until hours later. Actually, it’s best to simply clear your schedule of all other things.


As for my book haul, I came away with a very modest one. But this just means another trip down very soon! 

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Soaking up the sun and finding inspiration

| Fine jewelry, Jewelry, Scenes from our travels

A few days before the close of 2016, we had the pleasure of spending a few days in the sunny island of Puerto Rico. It was a welcome break from the snow and cold and a chance to soak up the sun and recharge.

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 We were greeted by blue skies and the blue green waters of the Atlantic. We could feel ourselves immediately relaxing. The island was first settled in 1509 by the Spanish led by Juan Ponce de Leon. The present site of San Juan was founded in 1510 and was  given its formal name  of Puerto Rico de San Juan Bautista in 1521.  It is the second oldest European established capital in the new world, the first being Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

The remnants of its colonial past is evident in the walls of the city and its two forts that stills stands guard over the city. In days past, the forts constituted the first line of defense against hostile powers who would storm the city and take its riches.

Nowadays, its a popular spot for those who want to take a stroll, and take in the magnificent views of the sea.

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By day, we shared the historic downtown with the numerous daytrippers from the many cruise ships that make this port, a must stop in the Caribbean. All of us were walking around holding our cameras and phones in front of us, trying to capture the vibrant colors that adorn the traditional colonial houses and buildings.

Blue, yellow, violet and pink, every hue was present and it was fun trying to capture that.

Business establishments are on the first floor while families still lived in its upper floors.

At night, once all but the few who chose to stay the night were gone, it was possible to catch glimpses of the families that still live behind the wrought iron balconies and lace covered windows.

The best surprise of the trip was discovering a strong local and thriving artistic community. Yes, there are a number of American style malls but there are also a good number of stores carrying only local artists and featuring only local and handmade crafts and goods.

Take this store which proudly refuses to carry anything other than their own handmade Panama hats…

Or this one store which carried a number of pretty bags, among other things. On the day we were there, we got to meet the artist.  Its a big family undertaking, she told us. Her mother and daughter help her make the bags and her other daughter sells them in the store.

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 Here is a small sampling of her work.

img_7989One gallery I loved featured art work  showing the wonderful old doors of San Juan.
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But my favorite discovery was a tiny shop that also housed a jewelry school.  Nothing touristy about this shop. When I stepped in, I was among residents who were having their jewels cleaned or repaired. This picture is a small sampling of the work of either professors or students of the school.  Their work features gems and stones, silver, gold, and even enamel

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 Needless to say, this was the place to find the perfect souvenir to take back home.

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Something pretty and sparkly

| New pieces


Hello friends, today I thought I’d share my first attempt to capture one of my pieces in action! The first I hope of many more videos to come.

This is a pair of gorgeous gold foil spiral shaped Venetian beads dating back to the early years of the 1900s. It’s designed to add sparkle to whatever you decide to wear! 

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Flashback Friday

| Jewelry

A favorite client recently set a photo of herself wearing her latest acquisition chez nous and I’m really happy to see it amongst other pieces of her jewelry box. Its exactly what I strive for, jewelry that blends seamlessly with what you already have.

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The long and short of it

| Beads, New pieces, Uncategorized

Two new necklaces up in the shop make the perfect pair for those times you can’t decide what to wear…


One is short and sparkly, with a vintage rondelle in an uncommon color while the other is composed of various colored vintage silver foil glass beads. 

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On wearing beads

| Beads, Fashion, Jewelry

During shows, I’ll sometimes get comments or question on how to wear beaded jewelry. Some people think it’s difficult to incorporate in daily wear. Some people think it’s too new-agey or too much of a throwback to the 70s. 

To this, I say, beaded jewelry can be as modern as any other accessory we have today. It can be worn singly, simply or in layers.  It’s all in how we want to wear it. 

For example, I like to wear bigger pieces under a collared shirt, for days when I want to have a more serious look but still have that special element. This one is an easy look to pull.  And I like to layer thinner necklaces around, but these are optional.
Other days, I like a more minimal look like this. Simple but sparkly.

I love that these antique beads have enough character and beauty to stand alone, worn simply on a chain but the best way I think, is when you can layer it with other pieces you already have in your jewelry box as I’ve done with this antique Georgian pendant.

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Stacks are the new black

| New pieces

Do you ever have days when you just want to layer on the pretty things? I do. It cheers me no end to be surrounded by pretty things.  In my home, on my wrist or fingers, stacking works.   Of course, I hear the minimalists going “less is more” so to resolve this dilemma, I came up with three bracelets that are each simple and pretty on their own  but works like magic to form a stack. For the days when one bracelet just won’t do it. Best of all, each bracelet is now listed in the shop!
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Perfect for summer

| Jewelry, New pieces

Hello friends, today I wanted to share with you a special piece that’s perfect for these hot summer days.  I created this piece using a silver chain and the prettiest sky blue and white latticino Venetian beads dating back to the early 1900s.  Latticino is a special Italian glassblowing technique using colored glass canes.  The beads in this necklace features delicate white lines.  Its a unique yet classic piece that would make a wonderful addition to your jewelry box!  Get in touch with us to purchase this piece.DPMskyblue

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Some new pieces to start the new year

| New pieces

Happy New Year friends! Hope your year is off to a rousing start!   I’m excited about all the possibilities offered by 2016. Lots of plans chez nous–more jewelry of course. In addition to my usual line of jewelry created with antique and vintage glass beads, I’m adding a line using semi-precious stones and crystals. This will of course, still incorporate my cherished glass beads. I can’t wait to start unveiling these pieces.  In the meantime, here are some new pieces that I’ve just added to the shop

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First off is this gorgeous royal blue and gold necklace. Apparently, blue and gold are lucky colors for the year of the monkey so I’m glad to be able to add this to the shop. These blue glass beads were made in France in the 50s. I love this combination, its a classic but never boring. This necklace is a great length, able to stand on its own but you can also layer it with your other pieces.

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The second necklace features a really pretty filigree charm from France. It dates back to the 40s. I love filigree, it automatically adds such a decorative touch to any piece I make. That this charm is vintage French adds immensely to its appeal.  To keep the focus on the charm, I’ve kept the rest of the beads simple, using only faceted Bohemian glass beads to finish the piece.

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And finally, I made this pretty red orange glass bead necklace. This color is not quite fire engine red but rather a lovely and uncommon red orange color. These beads date back to the late 40s. I like to think of this as both a winter and spring piece. It adds a pop of color to your winter wardrobe and works wonderfully when we start seeing warmer weather!

More to come so stay tuned!

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Starting something new

| Fine jewelry, New pieces

Hello friends, today I’m very pleased to share  some great news with you! For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to create a fine jewelry line in addition to my antique glass bead jewelry. As always started out with a few trinkets picked up here and there while I was out antiquing and looking for beads. Before I knew it, I had amassed a few of these pretty bits. I’ve finally made the jump and I’m very pleased to present the first one of many many more, I hope.

  
 I saw this gorgeous antique stick pin and immediately loved it. Of course I know that in this day and age, stickpins are virtually impossible to wear but something so pretty deserves a second lease in life.  During the height of their popularity, stickpins were  a way for a jeweler to show his skill.  As such, many of these stickpins are highly collectible, tiny pieces of wearable art. This particular  one dates back to the late 19th century and has sapphires and little seed pearls. 

  

  Here it is in its newest incarnation as a ring! A gorgeous and regal addition to your jewelry box. 

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Searching for perfection

| New pieces

Sometimes when I go antiquing, I’ll find a box full of beads and it’ll be impossible to look through every single bead to examine their condition. My policy has always been, unless its extremely filthy (and even then sometimes), to take it in the hopes of finding treasure among the pile. More often than not, its paid off. One such box I bought awhile back in Paris, yielded a couple of nice looking beads though nothing extraordinary but in this same box, I found a pile of crystal studded rondelles. Now I love rondelles. There’s nothing more fun than adding them to a necklace or bracelet. These rondelles however were not in pristine condition.

Upon closer inspection, each of them was missing a crystal or two.  I suppose whoever owned them deemed it too troublesome to replace the crystals and discarded them.  It got me thinking about the beads I collect.  Most of the beads I collect have travelled a long way before ending up with me and they all show signs of wear. I like to think that my beads wear their travels proudly and adds history to every piece I create.  Certainly, there are some that are too worn and shabby and these go to a box that I keep as study material.  Unless they break or shatter, I never throw anything away.

Now, I had these crystal rondelles which, apart from a missing crystal or two, were otherwise still in great condition.  Its a wonder that they aren’t missing more crystals as  these date back to the late 30s. Why should I discard them?  So I’ve been holding on to them, wondering what I could do with them.  I thought for the longest time that I should replace the missing pieces but then, they would no longer be original to the piece and I’m not certain to find the right size or color to replace the missing ones.


Fast forward to today –Its a warm sunny day in November and I thought its time to make something pretty with these rondelles.  Now, it isn’t going to be for  someone who is looking for something completely perfect but rather for someone who sees beauty in imperfections.  After all, none of us is every truly perfect but each of us is beautiful in our imperfections.

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Gray and blue go together 

| Work in progress

  
Recently, I went to a local bead show. Normally, I don’t expect to find any antique beads at this show because most of the beads are for new seed beads for traditional bead work. But I was pleasantly surprised by one stand that carried some older crafting materials. Amongst the bead needles and seed beads were a packet of vintage enameled bead caps.  They date back to the late 60s and are still quite vibrant. Others have some enamel loss but I thought they nonetheless added to the charm of the caps.

After much searching in my bead boxes, I finally found some gray pearls to go with these bead caps.  These pearls were made in France in th early 50s and have a wonderful shine.  I haven’t quite made up my mind if they will turn into a bracelet or necklace but I’m excited!

  

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Back in the saddle

| New pieces, Vintage finds

Hello friends,  as you may have noticed, it’s been very quiet here in the blog and store front. Sometimes life takes over and work takes a backseat. However, I’m very happy to announce that I’m back!  All the charms, findings and beads that have been sitting quietly on my desk, bidding their time, will finally have their chance to shine as new pieces.

What better start than this new necklace?

The star of this necklace is quite simply the French made enamel pendant that I found last year in Paris. It dates to the 1850s and has a very pretty design of blue and pink flowers.
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As it is pretty enough to hang on its own, I left it like that for the longest time till I found these pretty Venetian beads with a strikingly similar color scheme. Even the design of the beads match the pendant.  Coincidentally, the beads date back to the early 1900s as well. The beads and pendant seemed like a match made in heaven!

Going forward there will be a lot more new pieces coming. And I hope to unveil soon, a new and exciting line of pieces that I’ve never done yet! Stay tuned!

 

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At work

| New pieces

 

Happy Friday friends! Before closing the week, I thought I’d share a new piece I just finished as a going away present. As I had a specific person in mind for this new piece, I tried to design something that she can wear often and in lots of occasions. And I thought, what better combination than black and gold with a dash of silver thrown in for good measure. 

I love how the richness of gold enhances and enlivens black. These black beads are from 40s and were made in France.  Simple but dressy enough for any outfit! 

Eh voila, the finished piece…   

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Midweek lucky finds

| All things Antique

 In the middle of running errands, I realized I had a free hour. Fortunately I was very near a local antique mall that I had been meaning to visit. I still have to get used to the idea of antique malls, till we moved to the U.S., antiques malls were an unknown concept to me. I’m still not certain to love the idea but it does make browsing a lot easier when the stalls are all in one place.

Anyway, while visiting this particular one, there was hardly any interesting jewelry and no beads either. Just before leaving, I decided to check out the last glass case and here is where I found two beautiful glass buckles and a cross pendant. The colors on these pieces are so rich and saturated that this picture doesn’t do it justice. These pieces are from Bohemia and date back to the early 1920s. It’s possible that these pieces came from Jablonec, at that time, a huge glassmaking center in Bohemia. During its heyday in the 20s, some 45,000 people were working in the production and trade of glass beads, buttons and jewelry.  Sadly this once robust industry is a shadow of its former self. Many of the glass factories are shuttered down and many of the old glass makers have no one to pass on their craft. 

That’s why every time I see pieces like these, I snap them up. I love incorporating them in new pieces and giving them a new lease in life.

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ASJRA conference recap

| Jewelry

Hello friends, I hope your week is off to a rousing start! Today, I’d like to share with you a recap of my first ever jewelry conference.  A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the website of   the Association for the Study of Jewelry and the Related Arts or ASJRA.  According to its website, it is an organization devoted, (as its name implies), to the “advancement of jewelry studies as well as the dissemination of knowledge to anyone interested in the history of jewelry”.  I was intrigued by such a group and signed up to join right away. Then to my great delight, I learned that the group’s annual conference was on  Women and Early 20th Century Art Jewelry, which in turn is the subject of  Maker and Muse, the fantastic jewelry exhibit currently running at the Driehaus Museum (read all about my visit to that exhibit here and here).  I was especially excited because I loved the exhibit and two of the speakers–Elyse Karlin and Yvonne Markowitz, had written jewelry books I really enjoyed.

Upon arrival, I got my first surprise of the day, I got to meet two fellow Instagrammers —Gem Gossip and Bell Flower Bay.  These two ladies have an amazing feed and it was such a pleasure to meet them!

I’m happy to report that the conference was as interesting and absorbing as I could have hoped for.  The speakers were clearly all experts in their respective fields and I certainly came away with a more in depth knowledge of the topic. Of course I took this opportunity to ask some of them to sign my books. Pictured below is Yvonne Markowitz, the first ever curator of the fabulous jewelry department of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

 

 
 

What was even more cool about the conference was seeing all the fantabulous jewelry being more by the attendees. And since it was a jewelry conference, it was perfectly acceptable to admire the jewelry and ask to take pictures of them. Fortunately for me, everyone I asked agreed and now I can share them with you all.

I started with these fabulous rings from Daniele of Gem Gossip and Jenn of Bell Flower Bay. Aren’t these rings lovely?

This next lady is actually a descendant of Edmund Bokor, one of the silversmiths of the famed Chicago Art shop whic had its heyday during the early years of the 20th century. The jewelry she’s wearing were made by him.   

I loved the matching bracelet with its massive amethyst. 

  

This next lady had on a fabulous Art Nouveau horn pendant made by Elizabeth Bonté, whose delicate work is also featured in the Maker and Muse exhibit. She was very much inspired by Lalique and was one of the few jewelers specializing in the use of horn. These pieces of Elizabeth are quite rare now and it is very difficult to authenticate her signature. 

Another lady came all the way from Australia to attend the conference. She and her husband are passionate collectors of jewelry and collectibles from the British Arts and Crafts movement. Of course her necklace of choice was  a pretty silver and amethyst necklace from that period.

 

 
 

This pretty pearl piece is from the Boston School of Arts and Crafts and was made in 1910 by Josephine Hartwell Shaw. Pearls featured greatly in the Arts and Crafts movement but those chosen were chosen more for their aesthetic value rather than their intrinsic value. As such those that were asymmetric or irregularly shaped found their way to the jewelry of this period.

  

Another lady’s necklace featured the curved lines and enamel work that was very characteristic of the Art nouveau movement.  This piece dates back to 1890.

But I’ve saved the best for last. One lady had on a fabulous Henri Vever pendant. Vever was one of the prominent jewelers in Paris during the turn of the century and he wrote what is probably the definitive work on 19th century French jewelry. He was also a collector of art, notably of Japanese art and prints. I’ve only ever seen his work in pictures or museums so it was a real treat to see one up close. Alas, I dared not ask to hold it. But I did manage to take a photo.  It was a superb piece.

  

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Bead photo of the day

| Beads

 

Happy Monday friends! It’s been awhile since I did a bead photo so I thought I’d share one today.

Today’s bead is a fairly new (dating back to the 90s)  bead by Luigi Cattelan, a contemporary bead artist and one of the best still making chevron beads. Speaking of Chevrons, I have very few Chevron beads though they are very collectible by bead afficionados. I’ve stayed away from them because there are notorious fakes of Venetian chevrons and it is all too easy to make a mistake with them. Maybe it’s silly, but I want every bead in my collection to be authentic and not copies. Even though it can be argued that these venetian beads are themselves copies of ancient Islamic beads.  Well, Chevrons are one of those beads that are copied left and right and worse passed off as antiques. But I digress.

As you may now know, I collect old beads but occasionally, I see new beads that are too pretty to pass up! Case in point this Cattelan bead. I love its bright colors set in a creamy matte base. I’m quite excited to add this to my bead box and can’t wait to create something with this bead!

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Maker and Muse Part II

| Jewelry

Hello friends, its been pretty quiet on the blog front but I wanted to make up for it with this second post on the Maker and Muse exhibit. Part I featured jewelry from the British Arts and Crafts and the French Art Nouveau movement.

Today, I wanted to feature the Jugendstil movement from  Germany and Vienna, the jewelry of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Arts and Crafts jewelry from Chicago.

Jugendstil or Youth style drew their inspiration from the movement that was sweeping Britain and France.  Its goal was to integrate the different disciplines of architecture, fine and decorative arts into a cohesive and elegant whole.  Similarly to their French counterparts, women could not establish themselves as artists and designers as successfully as the male designers.  German and Austrian societies were still very much patriarchal ones.  And because industrialization didn’t hit Germany and Austria as quickly as it did in Britain, the adoption of the Arts and Crafts principles were more on the aesthetics rather than its guiding philosophy.

Creations from this movement are characterized by their clean, pure lines.  There is hardly any superfluous or unnecessary detailing.

Some of the examples on view include the following:

A gorgeous collection of brooches made variously with silver, enamel and rhodocrosite. The big silver and green object to the right is actually a spoon, literally a silver spoon!

DSCN4505  I particularly liked this pretty necklace circa 1914 by Hans Bolek (and manufactured by Oskar Dietrich) made with yellow gold and gemstones.

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I don’t wear brooches but given the number of really beautiful brooches on display, it’d be hard not to wear them! Just look at this wonderful mermaid brooch made with gilded silver, coral and pearl.  This one by Karl Rothmuller and dates back to 1900.

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From Germany, the exhibit makes its way to the shores of the new World. We start with Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of the founder of Tiffany and Co.  Louis, didn’t start out with jewelry. In fact, he started making jewelry, 20 years after he had already established his own reputation in the decorative arts. After his father’s death,  he finally joined the firm and he found a well developed studio system of design and manufacture.  There were a good number of women workers and designers employed by the firm.  Even though they were never formally or publicly credited with any of the jewelry, they were recognized as integral to the success of the company. Julia Munson, was appointed head of the new jewelry design department when Tiffany finally came on board.  Tiffany had one rule when it came to the women designers–they could stay as long as they stayed single.  Julia Munson, who was his chief designer for many years finally had to leave when she got married and Meta Overbeck another lady took over her post. Together, Munson and Overbeck designed  some of the most spectacular Tiffany pieces.

The first thing you see when you walk into the room is this stunning gold cross which Tiffany designed for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  It was commissioned by Tomas R. Keator in memory of his wife who was a member of the congregation of the all Angles Church in New York City.  Hidden at the back of the base of the cross is a small secret compartment containing a photo of the late Emily Keator to whom the cross is lovingly dedicated to.

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This glass cabinet contained what is easily, three of the most spectacular pieces of Tiffany  & Co.  The gold filigree necklace designed by Julia Munson uses 18 k gold, pink sapphire for the clasps and plique-a-jour enamel. It is magnificent!

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This fabulous 1908 green and gold necklace makes use of jade, pearls and of course high karat gold.  It is both striking and elegant.

Then of course there is this stunner of a necklace composed of the bluest blue Zircon I’ve ever seen, platinum, diamond, demantoid or green garnet, chrysoberyl and amethyst.

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From New York, the exhibit takes us to Chicago where there was a thriving community of women jewelers.  In 1906, Chicago was at the peak of the Arts and Crafts movement.  At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, there were more women than men. More importantly, the decorative arts were considered as suitable employment for women.  The four  most celebrated pioneers of the movement were Madeline Yale Wynn, Leonide C. Lavaron, Bessie Bennett and Jessie M. Preston. Another woman,  Elinor Evans Klapp was the only female artist who exhibited at the Paris Exhibition under her own name.  She went on to found a successful and lucrative jewelry business.

In 1900, the Kalo Shop was founded in Chicago by 6 recent graduates  of the Art Institute with the goal of creating objects that were Beautiful, Useful and Enduring.   It was so successful that it allowed several silversmiths of the Kalo shop to open their own shops.  What was striking about the work produced by the Kalo Shop, indeed of the Chicago movement was their determined used of materials that were previously not considered rare or expensive.  Materials like pearls and semi-precious stones were considered for their aesthetic value rather than intrinsic value.

An example of such a piece is this necklace composed of gold and Baroque pearls.

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And while there was a good number of pieces that used innovative materials like the Baroque pearl necklace pictured above, other pieces used more traditional fine materials like this beautiful gold and coral brooch.

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Other stand out pieces included this fabulous gold and black opal necklaces by Frances M. Glessner who made jewelry but never sold them.  Instead she gave away her pieces to friends and family.

Another piece of Ms. Glessner is this fabulous gold and yellow stone necklace which is now housed in the Chicago History Museum.

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Maker and Muse (Part 1)

| Events, Jewelry

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Over the weekend, I had the immense pleasure to view Maker and Muse, the new exhibit on Women and Early 20th Century Art Jewelry at the Richard Driehaus Museum.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it was.  The words sumptuous and gorgeous, among many superlatives come to mind when trying to describe the 250 pieces of Art jewelry that is on display.  The exhibit is spread out over 5 rooms in the museum (which by the way, merits a separate visit) and is divided into 5 themes–British Arts and Crafts, American Art Jewelry represented by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Jewelry as Art in Germany and Austria represented by the Jugendstil movement, French Art Nouveau and Chicago Arts and Crafts Jewelry.  These different movements were unified in their rejection of  industrialization and their desire to return to the artisan and the handmade.  More importantly, they made extensive use of materials like silver, semi-precious stones and enamel that were previously considered not good enough for fine jewelry.

The exhibit is particularly resonant for me because it celebrates the work of some of the first women to work in the field of jewelry.  Prior to the early 20th century, making jewelry wasn’t considered proper work for women.  It took a significant cultural shift before it became acceptable for women to work in this field. As a jewelry designer, I owe a great deal to these pioneers.

Fortunately for us, the Museum allows photos to be taken as long as it is without flash so I can share with you some of the highlights.  The exhibit will run until 2016 so if you have the chance, to see it, I highly recommend that you do so, you will not regret it.

Here now are some of the pieces on display. As this is a picture heavy post, please read on after the page break…

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A throwback Thursday in honor of World Book Day

| Bead adventures, Reading pleasures

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Hello friends, today is World Book Day and I thought I would do a related Throwback Thursday post. By now, you’ve probably guessed that I’m a little obsessed about beads.  I’m all up for bead adventures, whether its digging for beads in some small French town, or dragging the family on a 7 hour drive to see a bead exhibit.  This obsession extends to bead books.   Now there are a good number of books on beading and how-tos but the ones I’m most interested in are the ones that deal with the stories and histories of beads and those are a little harder to come by. As I got deeper into studying  beads, it became important to build up my bead library. And I got a little obsessive about  a book called Middle Eastern and Venetian Glass Beads by Augusto Panini. It is this big and gorgeous book on antique beads and had a fairly limited run.  It was of course not obtainable in any of the bookstores I called. Looking back now, I wonder why I just didn’t look for it online but I have to confess that it didn’t occur to me at that time. Luckily for me it didn’t because what I finally did was to write to the author to ask if he had any copies left to sell. And lo and behold–he wrote back to say he had one or two left and that he would be happy to sell me one. Even better was the news that he was coming to Paris for a visit so he could actually give me the book in person. That just about made my day, as you can well imagine!

I even got him to sign my book!  Needless to say, its one of my most cherished books.

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Bead photo of the day: a symphony in blue

| Beads

Today’s bead photo features all shades of blue. There are Venetian beads– trade beads, feather beads, fancy aventurrine striped beads, wedding cakes and a strand of Bohemian Russian blues. And the age of these beads range from the mid 1800s to the 1940s.

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For the bead geek in me

| Beads, Reading pleasures

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Usually the arrival of mail merits but a cursory attention but today I was so happy to see the postman arrive. You see, I’ve been waiting impatiently for the arrival of my complete set of Beads, the official journal of the Society of Bead Researchers. Yes, you read that right, it’s a journal about beads.
Now, beads are fascinating to different people for a number of reasons —they represent man’s impulse to create and to adorn oneself, they serve as anthropological and cultural markers of different times and places and well, because they’re pretty, just to cite some of the many reasons. Believe it or not, we learn so much about a particular society by studying their beads. For me, having these old beads is like holding a piece of tangible history in my hands. It fascinates me no end.

Anyway, the Society’s mission is to undertake and promote research on the many aspects of beads and bead making. Their journals represent the best of the research out there and it is constantly updated and enriched as more research is carried out.
I’m lucky to be able to acquire a complete set of their journals before they become out of print! I can’t wait to dive into them!

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It’s the oscars this weekend

| Friday links

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Happy Friday friends! I’m sure you must be looking forward to some down time this weekend. The cold shows no sign of letting up so this weekend is all about staying in and watching some Oscar worthy movies.
Then it’s on to the show itself on Sunday!
So to get in the spirit of the awards show, here are a few fun Oscar related links. Enjoy!

I haven’t seen all the nominated movies but there are predictions aplenty about the winners…

Of course a great deal of the fun is checking out all the gorgeous gowns and jaw dropping jewelry. Let’s revisit past iconic dresses shall we? Any favorites to add here?

Ever wonder how the winners celebrate? Here’s a glimpse

And that’s it folks! Have a great weekend!

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Happy Chinese New Year

| Throwback Thursday

 

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Kung Hei Fat Choi friends!! Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Ram (or sheep) according to the Chinese calendar.  And as it is also, Throwback Thursday, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures from last year’s festivities to welcome the year of the Horse.  Horse years are characterized by lots of dynamic changes and fast movement and there was certainly a lot of that in 2014!  I wonder what this year will bring?

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Inspired by Valentine’s Day

| Beads, New pieces

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Happy Monday friends!! Hope your week is off to a lovely start. Valentine’s Day with its unabashedly romantic colors of pink and red inspired what I’m currently working on. Oh and the fact that I’m dreaming of spring!
I have these lovely vintage Venetian beads with the most luscious color combination of pink and green dots. I’ve been hoarding them (like a miser, I know) but I’m finally ready to show them off to the world. Anyway, I thought I’d experiment and make hoop earrings with them. I normally don’t make hoops but thought I’d give it a go with these beads.

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I’m a bit worried that they’ll be too big. So I have to take them out for a trial run once I finish with them.
What do you think, too big or just right?

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Valentine weekend

| Friday links

 

 

Happy Friday friends! It’s supposed to be the most romantic day of the year tomorrow. Whatever your romantic  situation may be, its always good to show yourself a little love.  Let’s take it from Oscar Wilde who once said “to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance!”

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Bumble bee beads

| Beads, Throwback Thursday

 

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Today, I wanted to do a Throwback Thursday post featuring some very interesting beads.  These  beads have a very distinctive yellow and black stripes and I was actually buying another set of beads when I spotted them.  They reminded me so much of bees and in fact, these Venetian beads called bumble bee trade beads.  They are glass wound beads and were made between the latter half of  the 1800s to the first years of the 1900s.  With these beads, I wanted to make something that would really show them off.  The first obvious choice was black but when I paired them with my black beads, it seemed to dim the cheerfulness of the bumble bees.   But as it so happened, I had a bagful of vintage French yellow glass beads that I had previously bought and it turned out to be the right combination!   I bought these yellow glass beads from someone whose husband used to work in a bead and button shop in the early 30s in Paris. And when he died, he had a good number of buttons and beads left over from when  he was working and his widow was selling them off little by little. I was quite happy to buy the yellow ones from her!

At the next show I did, the necklace attracted a good number of admirers and finally it was purchased by a lady who owned her own jewelry store!  She was quite taken by it, calling it a unique looking piece and she loved the fact that the beads were quite old.  She told me that she rarely bought jewelry anymore since she sees so much of it in her own store. And I was pleased beyond belief that she found something she loved in my booth!

 

 

 

 

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Vintage find

| Vintage finds

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Hello friends, how is the start of your week? Over the weekend, I dropped by a local vintage show. And while there were a number of pretty things, nothing really caught my eye till almost the end.
It’s not a big thing but I was taken by this vintage earring case from the 60s. In fact the woman running the booth takes little forgotten objects, like this earring case, and refurbishes them to give them a second life. So this earring case is a little beat up but I like the idea of finding some use for it. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s perfect for storing little beads. I’m constantly dropping the small ones all over the floor and this container makes it easier to keep track of them.
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Finding inspiration on a snow day

| Beads, Work in progress

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Hello friends, how is the start of your week? Today’s a snow day thanks to the over 16.5 inches of snow that fell over the course of Sunday! It was quite an impressive sight that greeted us when we attempted to go out. That said, it’s quite pretty out with clear blue skies and sun sparkling off the fresh snow. Of course it’s bitterly cold. So what better way to spend the day than going through my bead box and starting a pretty piece.
I’m drawing inspiration from all the sparkly snow so I took out some vintage French glass pearls and started dressing them up with pretty silver and gold bead caps. I love glass pearls. They’re always so versatile and never go out of style. These pearls are part of this big lot that I bought in Paris a few years ago now. At that time, I had no idea what I was going to do with all of them but I have used most of them already. Can’t wait to show you the finished piece!
In the meantime, here’s what we woke up to this morning…

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