Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's the last day of this bizarre and often difficult year, but it has been a great one for me as far as creativity is concerned. I had a wonderful year on Etsy, selling three times as many pieces in this year as I did in my first year and a half. Had it not been for the economy, I would have exceeded my revised goals for the year, I'm sure. I've learned a lot and have some new plans for 2009, and have to thank my wonderful customers, friends and especially family for their support and encouragement. I want to thank my Dad, who has been my staunchest supporter and advisor. Thank you Dad - you are not on-line, but I want the people to know how much I appreciate your wisdom and love.

I just made these earrings and they're bright and festive for the New Year. It's snowing lightly again in NYC this morning, which dusts everything with gentle optimism, and I wish everyone a Happy New Year celebration, whether out at a party or cozy at home, surrounded with people or alone in reflection. It's a New Year, an uncertain one, to be sure, but I hope it will be filled with unexpected blessings!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Unbearable Cuteness of Being

Luckily, I had my camera on hand when I passed these sweet babies in a pet shop window yesterday. I have no desire for an actual pet and the responsibilities that go with it at the moment, but I fell in love with the multicolored dachshund and hope that someone with a loving home will buy him. I could look at that face and cuddle this sweet dog forever in a parallel life!

There are more pictures here. Be warned - cuteness overload!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I was out running errands and noticed that the fog from Christmas Eve was still with us. The weather this weekend is warmer than usual after our snow of a week or so ago, and there's still some ugly black slush around, a little ice and a smattering of whiteness in the park here and there. It wasn't until twilight when I was able to get to the park again and the colors and mistiness were unbelievable. YES, there is s little PhotoShop magic happening, but it's very close to what it really looked like. There's more here and you can click on the slideshow to see them at their best.

It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin Or It Gets The Hose Again

In November, after I listed my new Richard Armitage/Guy of Gisborne Objects of Worship, I received a query from a lovely fille in Paris asking if I could make a series of similar items for the Hannibal Lecter Canon. My customer is a huge fan of this character, has read the books and seen all the films and had very specific desires as far as what she wanted illustrated.

I had to think about this for a bit as some of this material is a bit grisly, but I do like this series, so I said yes. It ended up being five widgets: Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, two for Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising. The last two films are difficult to watch at times as the visuals and implied horrors are really, um, over the top and not for tender sensibilities. I had seen them all and even had some in my video library so it was easy to brush up on them.

The process involves making and printing graphics sized to the bamboo tiles (both sides), applying them, wiring them, choosing the hardware and charms; even though I've made a number of them by now, it still takes a lot of time and thought. Searching out specific charms is the most fun for me, but I do also very much enjoy composing the graphics. My customer provided all of the images but one, which I re-sized and adapted and she chose lines of text that were important to her for the "back" side of the tile.

It took about a month to put these together, allowing for delivery of new charms in addition to what I had or made to order.

Foggy Christmas Eve

I was on my way to a party in my nabe on Christmas Eve and was shocked by the presence of heavy fog - something I haven't seen up here. The Fog just stayed in the park, as it had risen up from the river - the Hudson River behind Inwood Hill Park. It was eerie and quite beautiful, and thanks to the lamplight, I was able to get some decent pictures. This one's a little blurry but it was the best one. We still had some snow left in the park, but as it was warm, it was melting fast, so the ground was slick and that added so much atmosphere. During my first trip to London in summer many years ago, we had an incredible pea-souper one night and it was very Ripper-esque.

The party was real change of pace as I haven't been to one locally for some time. Our hosts are lovely folks and their dog was most well-behaved, even while sitting near the pâté, without making a dive for it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

I know it's late, but I want to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah this year. I made my cards (again) and prominently featured two photos of my paternal grandparents, "Bubby" Rachel (nee Levie) and "Zadie" Samuel Finkle. My grandmother arrived at Ellis Island as a girl from Dundee, Scotland, where her family had emigrated from Lithuania. Her father was a goldsmith...I suppose this jewelry venture of mine has genetic origins? My grandfather came over on his own as a teenager, from Russia, and they met in Trenton, New Jersey, where they married, raised a family of eight (!) children and died in their nineties after celebrating their 75th anniversary. My father is the youngest of their children, and the only one living.

When I was in Edinburgh in 2003, by coincidence I stayed at a hotel across Princes Street from the National Archives of Scotland. I of course went there to see if there were any census records of the Levies in Dundee at the end of the 19th century, but sadly, I didn't find any. I also have been unable to find any Ellis Island immigration records of their arrivals. We do have these two wonderful early carte de visite photographs of them, which I have admired for years. They are very young, formally posed, well dressed and a bit apprehensive-looking, but they had to remain motionless for a long time in order for the picture to be taken. My grandmother was tiny, and by the time I met her, she was already quite elderly, so I never knew this darkly exotic young woman. My grandfather was also a very old man who was Orthodox and somewhat alien; he spoke English with a very heavy accent, never shaved on Sabbath (we usually visited on that day) so his beard was so scratchy (an anathema to a young girl) and didn't talk much generally. I so regret that I was too young to have asked them about their lives in the Old Country and journey to America. I was only around ten when they died, but they are very much alive for me via my Father's stories about them and his young years.

I used images from Hanukkah 2007 - framed pictures of Bubby and Zadie at my Dad's, his silver dreidel, one of his menorahs that I now use, and stock images of Hebrew type. I printed the graphic out and glued them to card stock for a quickie card - I never seem to get my act together to make holiday cards in advance. Sorry about the big old watermark.

Because my father was the last child that they had, and they were older when he arrived, and my father had a late start on his family, my grandparents are old enough to be my great-grandparents. It's hard to believe that in my family I am only a generation away from the 19th century, but that's the way it is, and it's special to me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sale. Starts Xmas Day!

Yes, it's true. I don't do sales very often, and to set myself apart from almost every other seller in the free world, didn't have a sale before Christmas, mainly because I feel that my prices are pretty reasonable. That said, I have a staggering number of items in my shop, 165 to be exact, and even though I love each and every one of them, some of them just Have. To. Go. so I can make new pieces with a clear conscience.

If you have had your eye on a particular piece, this will be the time to go and get it! I'm starting my editing this evening in between other chores, so check back now & then to see what's available.

How's that Batch editing coming, Etsy?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Memories

I've been so busy and otherwise mentally engaged that I nearly forgot that I have a Christmas Special airing on PBS this week in NYC. It's called "Christmas Memories", and it features the Celtic Choral group, Anúna.

If you haven't heard of them, I recommend checking them out, and if you love Celtic and Medieval music, you definitely should! I was the stylist on this production that was filmed back in June (seems like yesterday); it was a fast and furious assignment, with a very compressed filming schedule, but it was accomplished. The singers are lovely in every sense and it was great getting to know them. They are wonderfully promoted and supported by Borders, where you can check out their music, and this was their second Holiday special. It's in the variety show format that's folksy and charming and yes, maybe a bit hokey here and there, but comfortable. It was my first of this kind of show and it was a fun experience, doing Christmas in the summer. Their site is lovely and comprehensive, and you can read about the gorgeous McGlynn brothers, who lead the group.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Good to know that you can still get in to Central Park at 12:30 AM!

Funny how some folks wanted to walk right next to the wall - looks like their dog wanted to, as well.

I love the idea of a Children's Gate. It leads to a playground that I was taken to as a child, growing up on East 76th Street. The playground is unrecognizable now - full of modern playground amusements. I'm reminded that I must read Adam Gopnick's book about growing up on the East Side.

It was 18 degrees today. I was taking pictures of the Christmas windows at Bloomingdales (they're fun - will post soon) and had my fingerless gloves on for 5 minutes - which was enough to make the exposed bits hurt like hell for an hour afterward. It seemed possible to achieve frostbite status, and I was so happy that I thought to bring the gloves I wear with them when I was done. Naturally,there were the hardy souls (men) in sweatshirts with no hat or gloves here and there, but for the most part, people were sensible, and wore hats and scarves and layers.

I considered walking across snowy Central Park to look at the snow and grab a few pix, but when I reached Fifth Avenue, it was rip-your-face-off wind chill time, and the paths into the park hadn't been de-iced, so the sensible part of me whispered "better not", and for once, I listened.

It's supposed to be 30 degrees tomorrow, and 48 on Wednesday, so bye-bye snow, hello slush and big puddles.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Night At The Opera

About ten days ago a friend invited me to see "Tristan und Isolde", the magnum opus by Richard Wagner, which was in repertory at the Metropolitan Opera. The seats were spectacular - center orchestra, a rare treat. I used to do standing room quite a bit, especially when I was in college, and would always get a seat there eventually, but this was different, much different.

I laid out the clothes and joolz that I planned to wear on the bed, which is always an enjoyable part of dressing up to go out. Fortunately, I had some joolz at hand. :) I wore a long velvet skirt, an iridescent red & black silk jacket, a burnout burgundy silk velvet and charmeuse stole that I made years ago, wicked boots and lots of red jewels. Hair and makeup, check. It was tough getting the camera and the opera glasses into the evening bag along with everything else, and I now realize at last that those dainty evening bags of yore are no longer compatible with my lifestyle. I am in need of a slouchy but elegant black velvet bag (that I can stuff discreetly) for fancy nights out. Time to get sewing again!

Anyway, it was a wonderful night. My friend works at the opera house and in fact was working that evening, so we were able to see each other and even had an intermission repast in the staff cafeteria, which is festively decorated. I was attending the opera with his partner, and we were both giddy with the excitement of the evening, the drama involved (more on that in a bit), our magnificent seats and of course, the wonderful music. The opera is five hours long, with two intermissions of a half an hour each. This allows people to grab an overpriced drink or bit of food, get to the restroom, and do whatever else they need to - check their email, whatever.

The secret is out as far as the lower level Ladies' room being the fastest. No longer.

We milled around the lower level, looking at the wonderful photos of opera personalities past & present. There are no intermissions long enough to see all that I'd want to, but I just love the older, theatrical style of portrait photography that was employed 100 years ago.

On the Grand Tier Level, I always check out the vintage costumes in the showcases, admiring the style of decoration of an age gone by.

This evening, the role of Isolde was sung by Waltraud Meier, who flew in from Germany the evening before to sub for the ailing Katarina Dalayman and save the day. It's always a treat to see and hear Ms. Meier and it will probably be the only time that she will ever be heard/seen in this role in this house, enormous as it is. Photos of this event are here. Peter Sieffert, the Tristan, was singing, recovered from a cold that kept him out of a couple of performances. New York City in winter is terrible for singers with all of the colds floating about, and this Tristan production possibly has been cursed, with all of the ins and outs of singers during its run. The run was conducted by Daniel Barenboim, making his house debut at long last. The performance was wonderful...I am aware that there were some moments of off-pitch singing here and there, but for these ears, it was heavenly. Waltraud Meier is a lovely singing actress who really commanded the stage and gave great life to this character. I'm not a fan of this minimalist production by Dieter Dorn, as it is static beyond any meaning of the word, but one can always close one's eyes and just listen when the sights don't agree.

Curtain Call

There are more pictures at my Flickr space.

Snowstorm Heaven

Well, I don't have to dig out, so it's heavenly to me. I'm also not elderly, so I don't have to worry unnecessarily about falling, unlike my Dad, who can't go out at all in weather like this. I love the different quality of sound during a snowfall - I can't describe it - it's as if the sound is both muffled and sharper at the same time.

I went out in the afternoon with the camera as I wanted to catch the twilight. It was sleeting, which you can't really tell from these pictures. Inwood Hill Park is small but beautiful, and the views of the bridge and salt marsh are always so stunning. Having the cafe at the upper end of the park is a real treat - finally, a place that's perfect for getting an infusion of hot chocolate or coffee, that's convivial, artsy and just plain cozy. Being able to visit Scavengers is always a treat and as my camera steamed up I grabbed a few shots. It was really cold out! Anyway, enjoy the pictures, and there are more here at Flickr.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Whimsical Packaging!

I purchased these great vintage Mah-jongh tiles from The Capehouse Studio on Etsy. When I opened the envelope, this appeared.

I just love the beautiful big grey pearl button (which I can SO use as I make button jewelry) and the simple economy of the paper and cotton thread, but the kicker is the playing card with the letter "J" on my name starts with "J". What a clever way of personalizing this purchase and making it seem like a gift without breaking the bank. It has definitely inspired me!

Cape House Supplies is a great place to shop for paper ephemera and other fun vintage supplies for altered art, scrapbooking and other outlets of creation.

Snow on the Way!

It snowed here the other night, but vanished the next sad! I bought new snow boots last year and as we had almost no snow, I hardly wore them, so I'm anxious for some significant snowfall this year! I hear that we have another snowfall on the way tomorrow (YAY!) so I was inspired to make these bright golden earrings. These sweet snowflakes are brass and have rhinestone centers, and I found these interesting curly ear wires that I hadn't seen before. They looked a little naked, so I wrapped tiny gold Czech glass beads to them to add some more sparkle. They're very affordable, lightweight and great for some snowflake appreciation. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Contrariwise (her blog is Contrariwise Ramblings) tagged me and asks that I post 7 things about myself.

These are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here are seven possibly interesting facts about me:

1.I went to an art high school in New York City and studied package design, photography, and stage design, among other things. I also designed and made costumes for plays and musicals there. In addition to my work as a jewelry designer and maker, I am a costume designer working in theatre, film and TV.

2. I enjoy ironing, but only with my own iron - a very heavy Black & Decker.

3. I have exceptional hearing, but a terrible sense of smell.

4. I have never been ticklish on my feet.

5. I once made a costume for a gas tank for a still shoot.

6. I am an incurable night owl.

7. I can estimate distances in feet with scary precision.

I'm very new to blogging and don't know seven people to tag - here are the ones I feel comfortable tagging, and they're fascinating but busy people, so please visit their blogs to learn more about them:

Trends in Canada

A Clever Resource

The Perorations of Lady Bracknell

Thanks, Contrariwise, for making me sit down and think about what to write. I'm never good with this kind of thing, and apologize for not revealing anything really sizzling.....:^P

Monday, December 15, 2008


Seen on Fifth Avenue in midtown today, amid the holiday throng of tourists and shoppers. Note that the owner is wearing a fur coat!

That coat is just darling - I especially love the little gold buttons and the pleats in the back. That fake fur collar is hilarious as well.

It attracted plenty of attention!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This Makes Me Happy

The weekend's sales, taken to the Post Office yesterday. :)

Holiday Windows 2008

I can't believe that I have neglected my blog for so long! It's the busiest time of year here, and sales are good, often very brisk - I just returned from my little local Post Office, which was crazy busy as it closes at 5:00 and keeps no holiday hours.
The downside of being so busy at home is that I don't get a chance to get out and look at the city and its splendid Christmas Decorations. The night before Thanksgiving I decided that I'd walk down Madison Avenue and across 57th street and take pictures of the holiday windows, as I did last year. Some stores were just putting the finishing touches up, and most...MOST...had a SALE sign in the window, before Christmas. Very sad, but good for anyone with money to buy. How the shopping rules have changed!
Bergdorf Goodman wins again for most amazing windows. If you can, try to visit and see them for yourself! The store, located at 57th Street and 5th Avenue, is lucky enough to have three sides and often feature very different styles of decor on those sides. The north side, on 58th street, features windows with a retro-1930s-style surrealist view of stylish women with animal-men. Here's one:

The prime spot are the windows on Fifth Avenue - these typically feature the most splendid designs, and this year the theme is "The Four Seasons", with one extra, Holiday, thrown in. Splendidly dressed ladies are bejeweled and set inside crazily decorated windows, crammed with merchandise, animals, decor, textures, gorgeously painted backdrops and amazing lighting for such a small space. It's a visual feast - there's too much to look at, and selling clothing and objects seems to be the least of their agenda. They're little worlds of fantasy that allow one to become a child again. David Hoey is the designer of record, and though the windows are stunning all year long, the Christmas ones are a superb achievement. This is one of the windows, called "Harvest Moon", for fall.

The south side, on 57th Street, features very different windows - as far as I can tell, the theme is "Communication", set in a framework of black & white Baroque graphics reminiscent of the work of the Bibiena Family. That's a beautiful website with lovely examples of their work. If you click on the book pages after the site loads about 20 times, you'll advance to work that I'm talking about. When I studied stage design a million years ago, they were one of the first designers/architects we were taught about - active in the 17th and 18th Century and masters, among other things, of perspective.

Anyway, these windows have a palette of black, red and white, and show another group of beautifully dressed ladies illustrating ways in which we have communicated through history - balloon, bird, snail mail..stylized and crisp. The digital work on the backdrops is wonderful, and must have cost a fortune - I don't want to know what the budget was for these windows! Worth every penny, in my opinion, and a real gift to New York.

I'm not clogging up the blog with all of the pictures - you can see the pictures of these windows and more at my Flickr site...the link to that slideshow is here. You can also check out last year's windows and the spectacular Tony Duquette Tribute.

A window at Tiffany's also on 57th Street.

Ralph Lauren's 72nd Street location, the former Rhinelander Mansion; a north side window.

Steampunk influence and one of Macy's windows.

Barneys' SIMON DOONAN has created a series of colorful windows celebrating the 50th anniversary of the peace sign and hippie culture. Can you believe that it's almost the 40th anniversary of Woodstock?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Which I Snag A Last

Some months ago I had a Treasury for about half an hour until the whole thing crashed and it was lost. I'm never around when they expire, but last night, overstuffed from Thanksgiving dinner and on Etsy in the wee hours, I happened to get one and did my best to recreate it. Here's a link to the page itself, while it lasts. Sadly, some of my original choices were no longer available, especially a fur felt authentic top hat that I loved, and some of the sellers no longer have active shops.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Front Page Friday

I happened to be in midtown at 9:30 PM tonight and stopped into the Apple Store to check my email, and whoa! I was on the Front Page of Etsy! This happened to me in April when I took my ailing mac there for a repair - I was on the FP when I checked Etsy. Happily, I was able to take screenshots and emailed the pictures to myself and merged them together.

Someone bought this necklace a few days ago but never paid, so I re-listed it and lo, it turns up in the GG's Steam and Dark Arts section. (Yes, that's what it's called. Sounds like a class at Hogwarts!) Proof that the GGs are culled from new listings and not old ones. Good to know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Costume History Made Easy

As a costume designer in my real (or unreal) life, as I MUCH prefer dreaming up and making new creations for my shop these days, I love costume history and charting it evolution through the ages. I loved my Costume History classes in design school - not everyone did, but I enjoyed them, and in fact, would rather do research sometimes for a project than actually carry it out!

I discovered the world of altered art dominoes earlier this year and have made quite a few on various subjects, but had the idea of making some that illustrate costume history terms. Many people love fashion and costume through the ages, and they aren't necessarily costume designers! They would make nice little gifts and unusual stocking-stuffers, and could be used as a bag charm or clipped to a chain, cord or, appropriately, a ribbon or piece of trimming.

I find my images (royalty-free) online and in books, add graphic elements and print them at home on my new printer. I spend a lot of time on these images, adding backgrounds, finding the perfect fonts, adding brushes, changing colors...all for a very tiny field. I've learned a lot about graphic design this way, and although I think of my aesthetic as "more is more", I am gradually trying to simplify my images so that they're much less cluttered. I attach theses paper bits to domino tiles, seal them with two substances, and embellish with charms, stampings, beads, vintage buttons and whatever is at hand that helps to define the theme. It's actually a labor-intensive process made fraught by the resin-like glaze that I use, which can bubble up mysteriously and also attract pesky lint that you didn't know was there. They are rarely perfect, but as the subject matter is vintage, I don't think that it needs to be.

1880 Bathing Beauty - thank heaven we don't have to dress like this anymore in order to swim!

A necklace this time, with two pretty Victorian Ladies, bead and vintage button bits and a novelty chain.

I love "The Mikado" and had to make a charm for it. As all of the bobblies are vintage, it's OOAK.