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Glass from Gablonz

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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.

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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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When inspiration strikes

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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.

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Learning something new

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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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Motherhood

I was just thinking that cliché or not, Mother’s Day brings out all sorts of emotions in everyone.  For the lucky ones, it is a day of celebration and thankfulness. For some others it is a more difficult day.  One thing is for sure though, despite whatever relationship we have with our mothers or even our own relationship with the idea of motherhood, none of us would be here without her.  That’s a good enough reason to mark this day.

So, I made a little gallery of pretty things you could offer your mom. Or why not yourself if you’re a mom. I hope you like it.

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Klimt inspired

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Hello friends, today I wanted to share with you one of my more serendipitously paired pieces.  I found this magnificent bead (its the big focal bead of the necklace) during one of my bead trips and was just immediately taken with it. It is a Murano bead from the 60s and I found it so dramatic with its black and gold color scheme. More importantly  it reminds me so much Klimt and a field of flowers.  It is a little on the big side so I thought it would be perfect as a focal bead.  And since I found it so pretty, I wanted another one like it.  Well the seller didn’t have anymore…exactly like it… DSCN3633

 

But as he rummaged around his box of beads, he fished out the little brother or sister of the first bead!! I hurriedly bought them and hurried home, anxious to get started on a piece.

Since I wanted the beads to be the main focus of the pieces, I kept the necklace and matching bracelet really simple. I added a few vintage black faceted Czech beads  and voila it came together without hardly any effort.

 

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Add some color to your wardrobe

There are times when a piece comes together like a piece of cake (no pun intended!).   Other times I have to wait awhile before they fall into place.  With this dramatic red and green necklace, I had no trouble putting the faceted red and green beads together.  But then I thought, it needed a little pizzaz. I checked my treasure box of beads and stuff and nothing was calling. So I put it away thinking, it needs to time.

Then I went to a flea market and came across a lady selling fabric and theater costume pieces. DSC04570

And among the pieces of theatrical costume and in a box of bits and bobbins, I found this pendant all by its lonesome self.  It used to be part of what they call bijoux de theatre from the 30s.  These were pieces that actors used on stage and as it was for the stage, they were often big, gaudy and well, theatrical looking.  All by itself though, this pendant was quite lovely with its original green and red glass cabochons still intact after these many years.  Then I had an Aha! moment. This is exactly what that green and red necklace needed!  I took it home and now the piece was complete!DSC04571

 

 

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Matching stuff

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I don’t often have enough beads to make matching things. I make from what I find.  And that’s sometimes frustrating because I like to have the earrings that go with the necklace or a bracelet and necklace. Even more so when the beads are as distinctive as these round glass ones! I lucked out though with these as I had just enough to be able to make a pretty set!

I feel in a more playful mood now that we’ve left (fingers crossed) the cold weather behind and I think this set is the perfect thing to wear.

I love how the circles have edges and how the little dangle in the middle makes this piece so much fun!  The red glass circles are french made from the 40s while the little pearls and glass beads in the middle are from the 50s.

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Here’s a close up look at the necklace!

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If you’re interested in this piece, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

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A new direction

 

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Due to a recent major change in my life, all my beautiful beads are still carefully packed away like the treasures that they are and I’m in a waiting sort of mood. But waiting for what? For better weather? For inspiration to strike? Maybe I’m just waiting for time to sit and find a quietness to create something magical.   To be honest, I love the process of creating my pieces but I’ve been so struck with the newness of everything and of the idea of having to start from scratch in a new place.  Good or bad,  a major change is a chance to stop and reflect, evaluate and take stock.

With the arrival of spring, it seems that I’ve taken the first baby steps in evolving my process of creation. A sort of evolution for De Petites Merveilles, if you will.  See the bangle in the picture? Its a simple copper bangle but friends, I made it all myself.  The process is all new and I had help, of course, but I cut the raw copper, used a torch on it to create a circle and then hammered it to the shape it is now and to give it texture.  Its a simple piece (and the picture doesn’t quite do it justice) but it representative of a new direction I’d like to take. I love the idea of working the raw material and I’m excited about the many possibilities it offers. I can’t wait to see how these new pieces will work with my beautiful antique beads.

And I can’t wait to share them with you.

 

 

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Something new

DSCN3494There have been some major changes lately chez nous hence the long silence.  Thank you for bearing with me.

There’s still a lot of work ahead but I did want to share a photo of one of my newest ones.  This dramatic bracelet is composed of square faceted glass beads from the 30s. I find it funny to call them beads as I’m so accustomed to round ones but here are some beautiful exceptions to the rule. They were from an old French store that used to supply couture houses.  The store closed and the stock was snapped up by different folks till some of them ended up in my hands. I couldn’t resist them and they are even more beautiful in person!

 

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Something red

Unlike the days leading up to Christmas, the winter chill in January seems particularly keen and biting.  Copious amounts of hot chocolate notwithstanding, I’m trying to keep my spirits up by dreaming up and creating pretty things for Valentine’s Day. Yes, that day especially beloved by Hallmark.  I won’t get into too much detail now since we are still a bit ways off, but if you are thinking of something pretty to treat yourself (who says we have to wait for someone else to give us presents?), here’s a little teaser….

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A beautiful necklace composed of rare elbow shaped Venetian beads from Ercole Moretti (more on them later!) and red and yellow faceted French beads from the 50s. DSCN0473Something pretty to wear during this wintry period of the year!

 

 

 

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A certain pearl

The world's biggest pearl used in a piece of jewelry

I love looking at jewelry wherever I may find them. Often, churches are a great source for beautiful and ostentatious jewelry. Just look at this crown. And if the fact that it is made entirely of 18 carat gold, is not enough bling, just look at all the rubies, emeralds and sapphires that have been added to it. And the highlight of this crown? Its the pearl carved into the form of the baby Jesus. Its the world’s biggest pearl ever used in a piece of jewelry! Such lavishness is of course not meant for a mere mortal, no matter how high his rank. No, this crown is reserved only for the Mary, the mother of God. Us mortals can be content with simply admiring it from behind its glass case in the magnificent Cathedral of Seville.

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A sneak peek

 

Only three days to go before the grand opening of Noel de Createurs, the Christmas Pop-Up Store  of independent designers and artists in the Marais!  Friends, I’m very happy and proud to invite you all to this pop-up store as it promises to showcase the best of a selected group of designers and artists, yours truly included, who proudly hand make their products! There will be jewelry, clothes, little gifts and children’s items.  I’m sure you’ll find the perfect gift for your loved ones and friends here!  De Petites Merveilles will be at the pop up store all the weekends of December (the 1/2, 8/9, 15/16,22-24 and the 27-29).

Please come and visit us at 15 rue des ecouffes, 75004 in the Marais starting from the 1st of December.  For more details, please check out the Facebook event page

http://www.facebook.com/events/369720423118063/

See you there!!

 

 

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Birthday beads

I opened up my gift and was overjoyed with what I saw! This is a gorgeous and original necklace of  pinched Venetian beads from the 40s/50s.  They have aventurine swirls and the murrine canes that were used to create the bead form part of the designs. It even has that rare pinkish white color that I just love! This one is a keeper.

I have come across these kinds of beads once before but they were loose ones and I could only make this….with them

Gorgeous aren’t they?