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.
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?
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!
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!!
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…
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…
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.
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!
Hello friends, for this Throwback Thursday post, I wanted to talk about one of the first shows I ever did. This isn’t the first show I ever did because I didn’t even think to take pictures during that first show! This show was the second one I ever did and it was during the Salon du Vintage in Paris. I’ve always loved this Salon which brings together a big number of vintage sellers from all over Europe. That particular year, I thought to give it a try and to my surprise was able to get in. As you can imagine, I was super excited! It was such a major undertaking. And so I set off the day of the show to set up only to realize how little prepared I really was.
I had at this point, bought my own table, instead of renting it like the first time (where the table rental cost me an arm and a leg) but in terms of display materials, everything was a hodge podge of various materials and colors. And as I didn’t have enough jewelry display stands, I just laid out all the necklaces on the table, which fortunately, at least had a table cloth! It just looked so cobbled together and amateurish. The one thing that I did do right was to have an explanation of what the jewelry was about! Despite such an unpolished look, people seemed to like the jewelry I was doing. I’m proud to say that I did pretty well that weekend! Looking back now, I realize how lucky I was that day!
Its taken a lot of thinking and doing other shows and playing around with the stand to finally have a pretty and coherent looking booth stand. The process of putting together my stand is a much faster and less stressful process since I now know what to do. Knowing what to do with the physical space also allows me to think more about other aspects of the show such as more harmonious pairings and color groupings of the jewelry to better to present my work to the public. Here is how my stand looks now..
When I look at these two pictures now, I realize how far I’ve come since I started this adventure. They are tangible proof of my progress. And it encourages me to continue growing and doing better than ever!
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times we live in but everywhere we’ve been in recent times, at least one or two historic monuments have been covered in scaffolding or tarp. I know, I know. It’s necessary especially when it involves restoration work on historic monuments. But it can be quite frustrating. Florence, during our last visit, wasn’t an exception. The Baptistry of St. John is currently undergoing some work and is all covered up. But unlike the usually tarp and wood, the Baptistry is covered in the signature print and color of the House of Pucci. They are sponsoring the work behind the Baptistry. And because it is Pucci, it is extremely striking!
The House of Pucci,now synonymous with fashion and vibrant colors and prints, is actually a very old and noble Florentine house. Their family Palazzo which also serves as the company’s headquarters in Via de Pucci in Florence, has the rare distinction of being occupied by the same family since its construction in the 16th century.
Emilio Pucci, put the house on the fashion map when he started designing sky wear in the late 40s. His colorful and exuberant patterns caught the eye of many of the fashion cognoscenti. Emilio’s designs and colors are still in use by the current designer of the label. While in Florence, I had the chance to meet one of their in-house artists who works on the scarves. It was a fascinating conversation.
She explained that every design begins with a mood board such as the one you see in the background of the picture below. All the colors they use in current designs are still those originally conceived by Emilio in the 40s. And while they now use machines to produce their scarves, extreme care is taken to ensure that their colors are exactly the same as the original hues.
After coming up with a mood board, each design is painstakingly drawn and hand-colored before it is turned over to the silk printers. Here she is at work on the limited edition scarves that have the same design as that covering the Baptistry of the St. John.
Here is a view of the scarves up close…These 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.
I 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.
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.
When I first started, I didn’t take any pictures of the earliest pieces. When I finally started to have a bit more inventory, taking pictures became a good way to keep track of them. It is even more important when the piece sells before I can properly include it in the inventory. I was going through my pictures when this one caught my eye. All the pieces in this frame sold last year. And now that I check the inventory, it turns out that I didn’t have the chance to record two pieces here–the red flower charm necklace and the blue pendant necklace. I guess this was a lucky grouping and I’m lucky to have this picture as a keepsake!
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.
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!
A few weeks ago at my last show, a lady took a liking to my bracelets. She bought three of them, one of which is today’s throwback Thursday piece. It’s this lovely blush colored bead bracelet whose beads are from the 50s. I love that i managed to put different shaped beads including the more uncommon spiral twisty ones. And I find it to be quite delicate looking and if I may say so, perfectly suited to the person it came home with!
Hello friends, its Throwback Thursday on the blog and I decided to feature one of my pieces from last year. Last year I happened to buy some beads from an old french jewelry house. It is a small shop specializing in what they call Fashion Jewelry, which is high quality jewelry made from glass and other components. This is what distinguishes them from Costume Jewelry which normally makes use of plastics or cheaper material. This particular house just happened to make their own glass beads for their jewelry. At the height of their business in the 30s/40s, they employed about 120 workers at the glass making plant. They don’t have a lot left to sell, in fact, the seller was quite reluctant to part with the remaining beads but somehow I persuaded him to sell me a few of them. These particular beads were made to resemble rose quartz but they embellished the glass with tiny gold beads running in the middle of the bead. Since the beads were made by hand, you can see irregularities in the small gold beads. These beads are just gorgeous! They didn’t need much to be pretty so I just made them into very simple earrings. At my december pop-up store, they immediately found themselves a new owner!