Archive of ‘Throwback Thursday’ category

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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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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Throwback Thursday

| Throwback Thursday

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For this Throwback Thursday post, I wanted to share one of my first trade bead bracelets. I particularly love the beads on this bracelet because of its distinctive and pretty star pattern. To complete the bracelet, I paired the trade beads with some vintage French glass beads. This piece sold at the first international show I ever did in Switzerland to a lovely American lady who just happened to be visiting the region. Funny to think how much the beads have travelled — from Italy to Africa when they were first made, to other hands till they reached mine in Paris to finally the U.S. where I hope they are still making their owner happy!

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Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday

| Throwback Thursday

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This was supposed to be a Throwback Thursday post but as you can see I got delayed and so this post has turned into Flashback Friday.
Just wanted to share with you all a photo of one of the happy people who came away from the WinterMarkt with an original Petites Merveilles piece. She stopped by the day after and showed me how her necklace went beautifully with a piece she already had.
The piece she bought is composed of vintage French champagne colored glass pearls and vintage French bottle green glass beads. Both the beads and pearls are from the 50s.
Judging from her big smile, I’d say she was happy with her purchase!!

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A ring or two

| Throwback Thursday

You know how sometimes you’re looking for one thing and find something else instead?  l was looking for some old craft show pictures when I stumbled upon photos of some rings I made a few years ago.  Yup, at some point, I tried my hand at making rings.

It all started with a big bag of old beads that I had bought at the Puces de St. Ouen (big antique market) in Paris. I had bought the bag without looking closely at all the contents because I had seen a few choice beads that I knew I wanted.  I was then  surprised when I got home to find a number of old cabochon beads.  At that time, I hadn’t really had much experience working with cabochons, in fact, I had gone out of my way to avoid them.  Most of the ones I got still had the metal bar, rusting and corroded, running through the hole which were impossible to take off.  These I had to discard.

Here are a few that I was able to save…DSC06016

Then it occurred to me that maybe I could try making rings with some of them.  Now, at this point, I did not have any experience making any rings at all. I figured, how hard could it be. Well friends, making a ring presents its own special challenges. I easily lost three to four cabochons before finally coming up with two I was happy with it.

Here is the first one in tones of green…

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I was quite proud of  this one as I used two cabochons to come up with this flower design.

Then I also made this more ambitious ring which is being tried on by the lady who did buy it in the end.

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I’m happy to report that both rings sold right away and I barely had time to take a few photos of them before they were off to their new homes.  One of these days, I might try making another one just to see if I still can!

 

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My lucky finds

| Antique fair, Throwback Thursday, Vintage finds

Hello friends, as promised from the last post, I wanted to share what I ultimately brought home from the antique show. And this post even has a touch of Throwback Thursday to it too!

Despite wanting to carry home a bunch of those pretty compact cases, I was very reasonable in my purchases.  One find which I couldn’t leave behind was not even actively for sale. The dealer had actually bought the item for another dealer in the show but she was not completely convinced about taking it with her. Well, I had no problem taking it with me as this chain is an original Mirian Haskell chain necklace from the 40s! It is quite rare to find one of her chains as most of what is available are the more ornate and complicated necklaces. This one for all its apparent simplicity is really wonderfully made. Each link has a wonderful design that still looks as well made as the day it first made its appearance.

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Just look at the design of each link. I haven’t quite decided if this is going to the keep -for- me pile or to the work-pile.

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The second find took me completely by surprise.  But first a story… a few years back, at a small brocante in Paris, I came across someone selling trinkets and while most of the stuff for sale was not really antique or even vintage, there was one pendant that stood out from the rest.  It was this gorgeous violet glass pendant.  It was quite a big one, four inches long and beautiful with its carved surface.   It was also in impeccable condition, without a nick or scratch on it and the vendor had no idea where it was from and how it had come to him. As soon as got home, I did some research and found that it was Czech made and was probably from the 20s.  Its design was very typical of those times.  I was elated with this find and ended up making a long necklace with it.  And if I’m being perfectly honest, I sometimes regret that I sold the necklace.

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Fast forward to last weekend and this is what I see in one of the booths..

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Its the twin to my Parisian find! Except for the color, it is exactly the same, down to the bead cap!  I literally couldn’t believe my eyes.   That was probably the fastest sale ever made in that booth because I didn’t even stop to ask for the price or ask anything about it. I just said I was taking it!  After all, how could I not?

Czech pendants

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Throwback Thursday: Pretty bubbles

| Throwback Thursday

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This piece has to be one of the easiest ones I’ve ever made. As soon as I saw these big beads, I knew exactly what to do with them! I found the beads gathering dust in Paris, in an old tiny antique bric a brac store that looked like time forgot. It’s hard to see from the photos but these beads were a beautiful clear glass with a pinkish lavender heart. Looking into it was almost like looking into a glass bubble. When I found them, they were covered by a thick layer of dust but even then they had a beautiful shine that caught my eye. The owner of the store told me he had obtained them in Bohemia in the 40s and he’s had it since then. He looked quite loathed to part with them when he saw that I was interested in them. I guess one of the hazards of the antique trade is becoming attached to the wares. At any rate, he finally parted with them after extracting a promise that I would make something beautiful with them.
I think I kept my promise.

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Throwback Thursday: Fun hoop earrings

| Throwback Thursday

 

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Hello friends, today I thought I’d do a Throwback Thursday post featuring one of the first pieces I ever sold after our big move. At that time,  I didn’t know anybody and was just trying to figure out how to join art fairs.  I was quite apprehensive about starting a new business so far from where I’d started.    This piece was one of the first I sold after I made my first friend who was completely enthused about the fact that I make jewelry! She was looking for a fun piece to give as a birthday present and the minute she saw these earrings, she knew it was perfect for the person she had in mind!

These earrings are quite fun and add immediate pizzazz to any outfit.  But what makes them truly special are these faceted glass hoops. They look and feel quite light but they are glass and it truly takes a master craftsman to make something so delicate out of glass.  They’re not just hoops, there are facets in the way the hoop is cut and that’s quite uncommon.  I’ve seen since other glass hoops but these had not faceting in them.  These red hoops were made in Paris in the late 30s and at the last minute,  I decided to add some little glass pearls from the 50s to accentuate the hoops.

This was quite a memorable sale for me as it made me feel that I could start over and that I would find people who would love jewelry that I make!

 

 

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A Florentine house

| Throwback Thursday

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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.

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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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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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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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Throwback Thursday

| Beads, Throwback Thursday

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More often than not, I find my beads in antique fairs or in shows with antique dealers. But sometimes I’ll find them in unexpected places. Take this pair of earrings made with Czech glass beads from the 40s. They are quite special because of the degradé effect of the colors. It starts out white and graduates to pink to a dark violet. It’s very hard to do this kind of bead and hardly anyone ( if any at this point in time) does it anymore. Where I found them is a story in itself.
We were vacationing in a small seaside town in Southern Spain and beads were the last thing on my mind. Of course I had to ask if there was a local market around and I was told of a small local one. The appointed day arrived and I set out. It was a rather smallish affair with a cluster of stalls and many more vendors with blankets spread out on the ground. It takes a certain kind of dedication (Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it was a sort if madness) to go through about 50 stalls under 90 degree weather. And for all my dusty efforts, there was hardly anything to interest me. Luckily towards the end of the market I saw someone selling beads and kits to make jewelry. Unfortunately he only had new beads, most of which were plastic ones. I was about to give up and leave when he said that his wife perhaps had some old beads still in her collection. I didn’t waste any time arranging a meeting with his wife at local town square the day after and that is how I acquired these beads!
Now these beads are in the possession of a lovely and dear friend, the next step in their long adventure.

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Throwback Thursday and something new

| Beads, Throwback Thursday

DSCN3640Its late but since its still technically Thursday, I thought I’d go ahead and do a throwback post. I wanted to feature this necklace which was a particular favorite of mine.  I found these beads (along with a group of others that I have to post soon) the last time I was at the Antiquities Brocante at Bastille in Paris.  Loved ones of mine know how much I adore that particular brocante.  I would literally go everyday and look at every single stall. I went so often that sellers started to recognize me! (Ah, those were the days! ) Funnily enough, I didn’t always find old beads there. Lots of other curios and antiques but not the old glass beads.

That last time, I wasn’t particularly looking for beads. Plus it was the last day of the fair so people were in a going home mood.  Well, one seller probably in an effort to get everything out, laid out, casually, almost cavalierly, a handful of old beads just as I was passing by.  You can just imagine how my heart jumped!! I started looking at them and as is my habit, asked if she had more. To my great surprise, she pulled out a boxful of them!!! They were a glorious mix of different colors and shapes. Some of them were still attached to the mandrel (the rod to which glass is attached when being made).  It was an amazing find and I snapped it up. I even managed to get a bit of a deal since she was just about ready to pack up and leave.

Now, here’s the other funny thing about these beads. For the longest time, I thought they were Czech glass beads.  They are very very similar in look.  But it turns out they are French glass beads according to some research I came across recently.  Aside from the Bapterrosses factory in Briare, French production was not as extensive as the Venetians or the Czechs but there was a small cottage industry of lampworkers who produced beads that bear a striking resemblance to those more popular beads. Most of these lamp work beads were produced in the 50s.  So the beads on this necklace are French lamp work beads from the 50s.

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A (late )Throwback Thursday post

| Throwback Thursday

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For today’s throwback post, I thought I’d share one of my earliest pieces. It’s a very simple style but the beads are actually ancient rock crystal beads (one of the few ancients that I have) excavated in Nigeria. Here and there are a few glass beads that came in the original raffia strand and I decided to brighten it up a bit by adding these vintage gold long beads.

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Throwback Thursday:Finding a special present

| Jewelry, Throwback Thursday

DSCN0144At the Clarkston show last weekend, a man came up to my stand and as is my habit, I explained to him what my jewelry is all about.  He was very interested and asked a lot of questions.  It turns out he was looking for a present for his wife.  This was a refreshing change since most of the time, the women look at my booth and the menfolk stand around looking bored.  I was even happier when he told me that he wanted to buy a present because he recognized what a special woman he had in his life.  Isn’t that the nicest thing to hear?

I’m happy to say that he found what he was looking for with this necklace. What makes this necklace special are the pendants that I created from Bohemian glass from the 40s.  I love these faceted rondelle beads. They are so versatile and can really make a piece stand out.  When I find them, I always try to hang on to them a bit, just because they’re pretty.  But I was certainly very happy that this piece found itself a special new owner!

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Throwback Thursday

| Throwback Thursday

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Hello friends, today on Throwback Thursday post, I wanted to feature this pretty pair of black and white earrings. Black and white is one of those really classic combinations that never go out of style. So I wanted to make my own version of this classic. I love how these black beads have little white pearls running all around its middle. These beads were made in France in the early part of the 1900s. And just to make it even prettier, I decided to add pretty white glass pearls to this pair!

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My first trade beads

| Jewelry, Throwback Thursday

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Many years ago, I had the chance to visit the Fabled Rice Terraces in the Northern Highlands of the Philippines. This is a beautiful region of the country, filled with majestic views of the mountains and of course, the terraces which were carved entirely by hand by the Ifugao people 2000 years ago. It’s a breathtaking place and I have beautiful memories of our trip there. I also have fond memories of the kindness of the people there. They do beautiful bead work and colorful textiles but what really caught my attention was the jewelry they wore. They had beautiful glass bead necklaces. Now mind you, this was way way before I had an interest in beads, much less the idea of creating jewelry. Jewelry has always been an abiding interest and they had some pretty special ones. One spectacular piece worn by a village elder had glass beads with real gold embedded inside. There must have been at least 10 beads in the necklace and because it was an old piece, it had the most beautiful patina. Then they explained that their beaded jewelry were family heirlooms, passed from mother to daughter in each family. And that a lot of their beads were made in Itsaly and they acquired them from the Spanish Galleon trade! I was completely fascinated by the idea of these beads traveling on Spanish galleons and making their way to these mountains. Its literally a piece of history. When I asked if there was a necklace or 2 for sale, even the most simple one, they all shook their heads negatively.
Oh well, I thought to myself, I guess it’s not meant to be.
Then on our last day, one of the women, said she might know someone willing to sell me a necklace or two and whether I was still interested. How could I not be?
She then took me to another family’s house where the family matriarch asked me why I wanted their necklace. And I said that I liked them because they were a piece of history and that I would be honored to wear it. I still don’t know why that convinced her but she agreed to sell me what you now see here.
Fast forward to now, after hours and hours of reading and research and other purchases, I know now these beads to be white hearts and simple eye beads from Venice but they will always have a special place in my collection.

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Throwback Thursday : a childhood game

| Throwback Thursday

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I was at an antique mall recently and I came across these jumbo jacks. It brought back such a rush of memories. I can remember playing with these all through my childhood. I remember sitting on the ground at the school yard heedless of my mother’s efforts to keep my school uniform crisp and crease free, as I played with like minded girls. Thanks to this game, I’d come home with dirt and grime under my nails but exhilarated with the way I played and levels I reached with jacks. In this day and age of iPads and iPods, wifi and wii, it’s nice to see that games like this are still around, a throwback to simpler days and simpler pleasures.

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Throwback Thursday

| Jewelry, Throwback Thursday

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Hello friends, today on Throwback Thursday, I wanted to share a piece that I made over a certain period of time. This necklace started as a simple strand of faceted green and red glass beads from the 60s. When I finished it, I felt that it was incomplete and so I set it aside. A few months after, I went to a brocante and found someone selling bits of jewelry that were used in theatre plays in the 30s. Most of her pieces were big and ornate. But there was also this pretty little pendant that had long lost the necklace it used to belong to. I snapped it up thinking it was really pretty. I excitedly went home thinking of how to use it. I began looking through my beads when I came across the red and green strand I had previously made! Eh voila, this pendant was what was exactly needed to complete this necklace!

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