Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Custom Project

A friend of the family, who knows I make jewelry, asked me recently to take some important bits and pieces that she'd had for many years and make them into wearable necklaces. I love this kind of project - taking orphaned, meaningful parts and re-purposing them into new pieces with their own integrity. Sadly, I did not take pictures of the pieces she gave me beforehand as it didn't occur to me until afterward that I might want to blog about it.

Our friend gave me the blue slab, the warm gemstone oval, and the pretty little gemstone hearts. She likes long necklaces and wanted a simple chain. I added a dyed yellow jade oval bead and combined all three elements, wrapping the slab in brass filigree. I think that the components work harmoniously together and are wonderfully Bohemian.

The second project was another gemstone slab and a pair of vintage broken root beer brown lucite and sterling silver earrings. They seemed to want to be together - the two warm agates had been part of a bracelet but I didn't feel compelled to keep them together. I took the earrings apart, added some sterling chain of my own that I oxidized to match and put them together on another simple gold-toned chain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Nature Post

I have been trying to walk more during my days and take the trains and buses less often, when I have some time, and this week was in both Central Park and Inwood Hill Park, camera in hand. I was amused by the sight of park birds feeding in the long shadows of late afternoon- fat red robins in Central Park, and the local geese in Inwood.

It's still wintry-looking, but the grass is showing signs of Spring. I am a winter-lover, and adore the bare trees and wonderful textures that you see in colder weather. It was a windy day yesterday and I loved the wind bath that whistled by. The late shadows make for interesting photos and I was taken with the striped effect on the ground from tree shadows.

I have never seen sculling in local waters before yesterday - these rowers could be from Columbia University nearby, or some other organization. There are are two boathouses at the tip of Manhattan (pictured) and they alit from their boats on their dock on the far left.

Finally, a poignant sight - this tree stump wedged in between these iron railings. I never noticed this before, and it awes me that somehow, this tree found a way to push through this fence.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Little Bit of Promo-ing Here

I had a nice surprise tonight - I was in a Treasury that was on the Front Page of Etsy - and a really lovely one, too, curated by HeartFelt Vintage.

I am also a Spotlight artist on Shop N Blog. This blog is by Mem's Pocket Palette, who I got to know at 1000Markets, where we both have shops. Mem generously goes out of her way to feature fellow artists, something that has to happen more often here. If you love animals, there's another reason to visit Mem's blog! Mem is talented in many media and her shop is full of some simply stunning work!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sublime and Spellbinding Singing

On Sunday evening, the Metropolitan Opera produced a Gala event designed to celebrate its 125th year and honor tenor Placido Domingo, who has sung for 40 years(!) with the company. Sadly, I didn't have the gelt required in order to attend, so I listened on the computer, via Sirius radio. The evening was mixed bag vocally, but was partly redeemed in the end by this absolutely gorgeous bit of singing from Renee Fleming. The aria is "Marietta's Lied" from the opera Die Tote Stadt, (The Dead City) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Korngold was only 23 years old at the premiere of this opera, in Germany in 1920. You needn't know the story to enjoy this perfect moment in time, conducted by James Levine and played beautifully by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

WELL, Folks, the Metropolitan Opera pulled all of the Gala content off of YouTube, including the video I originally linked to. I have a sound clip, and post it here. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, March 16, 2009


As usual, I'm a little late to this partay.

I didn't get into Harry Potter until after the fourth book came out.

I discovered Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series in 2006, 15 years after the first book was published.

I saw the movie "Twilight" a week or so ago and have been intermittently listening to Book One on the iPod, trying to understand the mania for it. I'm not there yet, but I'm hoping it'll happen for me. Seeing sweet and slightly thick Cedric Diggory as a vampire was rather traumatic.

I was determined to make some Twilight-themed jewelry that avoids copyright infringement, which means no logos or visuals from the book or movie. I trod a fine line with some of my Richard Armitage worship widgets that used his likeness, and decided to avoid it this time. Instead I'm just making some pieces with a line or two from the books (well, that's a fine line also). It's just for fun, and I'm trying not to copy what I've seen on Etsy and elsewhere, using charms and beads that are already in stock.

The first piece is an ornate medley of both literal and suggestive charms hanging from a necklace frame. It's theatrical and over the top (heh) but it was fun to put together.

The other three necklaces are lockets of varying sorts with text under resin and a bead/charm embellishment.

These necklaces and bracelet are available in my shop - some are not yet listed but will be in a couple of days. Check the "New This Week" section and after that, they'll be in a section all their own. :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Go Blithe on Broadway

Last night I saw a preview of "Blithe Spirit" on Broadway, which opens this weekend. It's a rare chance to see a Noel Coward play on Broadway, and possibly the last chance to see Angela Lansbury in a major role. The play was written in 1941 and takes place in an English village, in the home of a comfortably well-to-do writer, Charles Condomine, and his second wife, Ruth. They are planning an evening's entertainment and have invited a local couple and a local medium, Madame Arcati, who will conduct a seance after dinner. The writer is doing research for a novel and hopes that the evening will yield interesting information that he can use. Trouble ensues when the medium conjures the spirit of his dead first wife, Elvira, who wreaks havoc on his home and tries to come between him and his living wife. The medium is called back in to try to send the dead wife back to the spirit world, with interesting results.

Apparently, Paula Roberts, a well-known psychic, was hired to advise the production.

The writer is played by the fabulous Rupert Everett, a longtime favorite of mine. Rupert is now 50 years old, and looks amazing, and is the epitome of classic elegance onstage. He moves beautifully, with grace and naturalness, draping himself all over the furniture, long legs crossed, completely at ease and looking INCREDIBLE in his marvelous wardrobe, designed by Martin Pakledinaz. I first fell under Rupert's spell in the film "Another Country" which was quite some time ago. He should be a bigger star and hopefully will become the toast of Broadway. He appears completely comfortable in this milieu and has appeared in two Coward plays previously in the UK.

Angela Lansbury plays Madame Arcati, the medium. I've seenher in plays and watched on the screen many of her performances over the years; she's now in her eighties and doing an 8-show-a-week schedule. She plays this role quietly, though it's faintly reminiscent of her turn as Salome Otterbourne in Death on the Nile, one of my favorite films EVER, as a drunken writer of romance novels. I was expecting more camp in this vein, but her playing was dignified, yet physical, as she often danced across the stage.

Christine Ebersole plays Elvira and it's a tough role, but she held her own. I would have liked to see her a bit freer, ethereal yet earthly as she was clearly a fun-loving woman and a contrast to Ruth's groundedness. There should definitely be more bewitching and sensual danger to Elvira, and I didn't sense that. I did enjoy her singing period songs during the clever transitions.

Jayne Atkinson played Ruth, Charles current wife. I liked her and enjoyed watching how she dealt with Elvira's presence in her life. This character for me is the most realized of the four.

Simon Jones and Deborah Rush round out the cast, and Susan Louise O'Connor, as the maid, is allowed a great deal of physical comedy and nearly steals the show. It's directed by Michael Blakemore and is at the Shubert Theater on Broadway.

Here's the website for the show. Show photos are here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do I Look Human In This?

There's been a lot of press today about Alexander McQueen's recent runway show in Paris, and no wonder. I don't think that many of these fashions are intended to sell - just entertain and make a statement, and they are very entertaining. I am completely repelled by the lip makeup - it's something I'd see in my worst nightmares. I do hope that these models were paid very well to put up with this and totter on those shoes.

I actually think that many of these garments are extraordinarily beautiful and very clever, if insanely cruel. There's great coverage here. You should check out the slideshow!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tea or Coffee?

I'm a coffee drinker here - have to cut down to one cup a day, but I do love a rich cup. I brew my own and take it with me or have it at home before I leave, so I don't spend unnecessarily at overpriced coffee bars. My local grocery just raised the price of beans to $8.99 a pound, which is high for this neighborhood. I used to love to buy coffee at Zabar's, but I don't live nearby there anymore, and I'm never at The Fairway, either, so I usually get it at my local. Maybe it's time to try out the cans in the supermarket like Martinson's?

There's no caffeine in these earrings, just an antique linen button, the kind that you'd find sewn on in rows on Victorian and Edwardian dresses a hundred years ago. They're epoxied inside sweet embossed brass and copper tea cups and hang from shiny copper handmade ear wires. A matching necklace features the same cup sitting atop another antique button, a gorgeously large, luminous mother of pearl. I think these pieces would be great for lovers of literature and British culture, as well as caffeine!

A Kick of Color on a Grey Day!

I received these pretty red tulips for my birthday on Saturday evening...they were closed and tight...and when I went to look at them a little while ago, they'd bloomed! They're quite exotic-looking now, don't you think? They're certainly cheering up the rather dreary view on a dull and rainy day. Note the wooden tulips nearby in the vase on the right. On the left is a cactus that my younger nephew gave me on a previous birthday - the dryness and bottom heat from the radiator that have killed other plants clearly suit this hardy survivor.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spotlight: Steampunk the Catherinette Way

There's a Steampunk jewelry shop on Etsy called Catherinette Rings, that deserves mention on this blog. Until today, I assumed that Catherinette Rings was a woman, but it's a team, consisting of Catherine and Daniel Proulx of Montreal, Canada - he's one of the rare Men of Etsy. Daniel is the creator of the Steampunk section of their shop, which also features colorful, lighter-themed and colored rings and bracelets. I spotted the Steampunk rings last year in Etsy Treasuries, on the Etsy Front Page, and on Flickr. He has a blog as well, which makes for interesting reading, and *giveaways*. His jewelry is a marvel of craftmanship, texture, sensual color and variety - not only rings, but necklaces, bracelets and earrings are available for the lover of Steam and Unusual jewelry. The rings look organic - I almost expect them to start buzzing and whirring, and for the jewel "eye" to light up. I'm not a metalsmith, but those coils look awfully perfect to my eye and hard to achieve without lots of practice. I've chosen my faves of his current collection for this blog post. The jewelry is made from various metals like brass and copper, with glass, lampwork glass, metal and gemstone beads.

These beautiful pictures are the property of Daniel Proulx.

Stunning necklaces here: Relic circle necklace, Labradorite pendant, Smoky Quartz clock gear necklace, Mysterious Amber Bead Necklace. Hard to pick a favorite, but I am drawn to the Smoky Quartz because of the interesting textures.

I am in love with the bracelet on the left! The large central gear is a great metal color and the arrangement of the stones, beads and curved wire is so dynamic. In the center are some wonderfully understated earrings that say "Steampunk" so quietly that they will go with practically any style of jewelry already in your collection. The last bracelet features some wonderful lampwork glass beads that happily remind me of vanilla fudge swirled ice cream. The pattern works perfectly with the aesthetic - it's not a bead that I would associate with Steampunk, but it works!

Ahhh...the rings. Hard to choose my favorite...aren't they all gorgeous? The amber bead with the clock gears at center bottom row is just spectacular and if I won the lottery, that's what I would buy, yet I am also drawn to the serenity of its Moonstone sister next door, as well as the reptile eye ring in the upper left. Perverse!

Monday, March 9, 2009

OTT's Opening Night Off-Broadway!

"Saints Alive" detail of enameled charms and beads

Actors Reed Birney, Dana Ivey, Playwright Evan Smith, Actors Kellie Overbey and Marylouise Burke

Actors Kristine Nielsen and Marylouise Burke

Actor Peter Bartlett, Maylouise, and Costume Designer Martin Pakledinaz

I love getting photos of customers wearing my jewelry. It doesn't happen that often, so when it does, I get all giggly and proud.

The lovely Marylouise Burke sent me pictures of herself wearing one of my necklaces at the opening night party for her play, The Savannah Disputation, in New York City. It's actually a necklace set, with earrings, that consists of glass beads and tiny vintage enameled medallions depicting The Infant of Prague. I have had those medallions for 20 years, and they were breeding in their box, so it was high time to use them. A friend in common gave her the set for Christmas, and as often happens, it was an eerily perfect choice, as this same Saint appears as an important prop onstage in this play. I haven't seen it, so I can't report on its significance in the story, but Marylouise was clearly meant to have it...maybe it was divine intervention?

The Savannah Disputation, a new comedy by Evan Smith and directed by Walter Bobbie, is playing at Playwrights Horizons on Theatre Row in New York City. Photos are by Bruce Glikas at, a great site for theatre fans!