Thursday, December 30, 2010

Downton Abbey Costume Drama

I have just finished watching a new ITV Costume drama series, "Downton Abbey", that will be shown on PBS in 2011, written by Julian Fellows, scribe of "Gosford Park", one of my favorite films of all time. "Downton Abbey" concerns the aristocratic Crawley family in Northern England during the years 1912-1914, on the eve of The Great War. My internet sleuthing has allowed me to preview these episodes before they arrive here, and I can't wait for the second series to begin - next year! Filmed at the stunning Highclere Castle, The cast includes the usual suspects, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter (Mr. Imelda Staunton), Phyllis Logan, Brendan Coyle (from "North & South") and a host of others you may recognize from other favorite dramas. The brilliant Brian Percival, who directed "North & South", another fine drama, helms 3 episodes. It will be captivating entertainment to warm the long winter months ahead.

Julian Fellows, an inspiration to late bloomers everywhere, won a first Oscar for "Gosford Park" at age 52. He seems to be making up for lost time (he was an actor for many years) by creating a cottage industry for himself writing about aristocratic England, with novels, screenplays and TV series. This new series is wonderfully penned and directed, and if you can't wait to see it, you can pre-order it at Amazon. I know I did! By the way, you must own a copy of "Gosford Park" on DVD; Fellowes provides what is possibly the best narrated commentary ever!

Check out The Enchanted Serenity of Period Films for a look at the costumes. This is a wonderful site - please bookmark it!

There is another fantastic website called Recycled Movie Costumes, where, helped by sharp-eyed costume-watching contributors, you can spot recycled period costumes from drama to drama. There are never enough rentable costumes available, even in the UK where 19th and early 20th century dramas are a major industry, and smaller budgets every year for the building of new frocks, so recycling has become an art unto itself. This link takes you to a page devoted to "Downton Abbey". I hope that you have some time to spend here - you'll need it, as it's fascinating.

Here's an article about recycled costumes at the Daily Mail that's a fun read.

Photos taken from "Enchanted Serenity of Period Films", from promotional material from ITV. DOWNTON ABBEY debuts on PBS on Sunday, January 9. Check the PBS website for scheduling in your area.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dad's Yahrzeit

Miss You Like Crazy, Dad. One year ago today on the Hebrew Calendar.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year, dear ones, and I wish all of my readers and followers the merriest of Christmases! I hope that wherever you are, the spirit of the season reaches you, and maybe even some actual spirits - of the supernatural or alcoholic kind. I am settling in with Bailey's and some movie favorites, fireplace all aglow for the last Christmas at the Old Homestead.the On hand are The Bishop's Wife, George C. Scott and Alastair Sim A Christmas Carol, A Cranford Christmas, and a few others that I will probably not get to. Tomorrow I will be with good friends but am thinking of Dad and the many Christmas Eves that we spent together, often at the movies and then at home watching Midnight Mass on the telly from St. Patrick's Cathedral or the Vatican.
Here you were, last year, settling in, all cozy by the fire:

As I will be, this evening!

Christmas in NYC Pictures

Every year I take on the burdensome task of traipsing around in the cold and crowds just so I can take photos of the holiday store windows to post on Flickr and my blog.

No, really, I enjoy it. The city looks so lovely and as I am a fan of shine and sparkle, I always have a good time. I'm a little slow getting these pictures edited (hundreds, I tell you!), so they are just appearing HERE and I think a week or two later. After seeing "A Life In The Theater" with a friend on Broadway, we did the Saks-to-Bergdorf Goodman route up Fifth Avenue. The Bergdorf Windows are especially fine this year, and I hope to have those up and edited this evening. If you can't get to the city, at least you can check out the windows online - there are many more at Flickr, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Moon and I

Lunar Eclipse, 2 AM, Manhattan, New York City. An ordinary digital camera and the moon, almost 1/4 in shadow. Tried in vain to get onto NASA's site, and cannot find a live cam from my area. It's totally freezing out there, and the night doorman joined me with his own camera, taking pictures. He can go out and check the eclipse's progress, but I am off to bed. I'm looking forward to looking at MUCH better pictures in the morning!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NEW in the Shops

It's been quite cold here in New York City for December - in the low twenties, which is what I'd expect for January and February. As a result, I have been spending some more time indoors and have made a few new pieces for the season.

For those of you who enjoy listening to holiday music at this time of year, WQXR is streaming Christmas music 24/7 via your computer at this link.

To get to the music,look on the right at the blue box that says "What's On". There's a bright blue bar with the word "Special" on the far right. Click on that and then "Listen Now" and after a brief ad you will get to the music! I have enjoyed hearing choral favorites and carols, and of course the Nutcracker is played at least 10 times a day. I have been listening for a week or so, and vocally the rotation is heavily featuring Bryn Terfel, Kathleen Battle and Thomas Hampson. Very calming and seasonal.

Stay warm, everyone in a cold climate, and enjoy the season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

15-20% off SALE in ALL Shops

I have so much STUFF in my shops, and will be adding even more, so I am putting a lot of older items on sale for the month of December. Check both shops at the links on the left; there are some good discounts on higher-priced pieces. I hope that you enjoy your browse and find some interesting things for friends, family, and of course, yourself!

You'll find the same items and prices at both Etsy and Artfire.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Halloween and Metropolitan Museum Jaunt

"Ancient Rome" (1757) painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini (Italian, Roman, 1691–1765)

I FINALLY got around to editing my photos of my brief trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Halloween (!) specifically to see the exhibit, "Italy Observed, Views and Souvenirs, 1706-1899". This exhibit continues through January 2, so go if you can. It's in the Robert Lehman Wing; Lehman collected "vedute", Italian tourist paintings and drawings, and the rest of the exhibit contains fans and other decorative items from other departments on the museum. I took a few pictures until a guard told me not to, and photographed other lovelies as I made my way around the museum, seen in this Flickr stream. You can see other pictures I have taken there as well.

When I bought my first "real" camera in 1979, a Canon AE-1, I was working at this museum in the various gift shops, before my "Grand Tour" later that year. I took a year off from college to work and figure out if I really wanted to go to design school or be a singer, and as I made my way around the huge place I decided to use the money I was earning to travel to some of the places I was looking at in paintings and drawings every day. I bought my camera and tested it out inside the museum, taking pictures galore of beautiful objects. Taking advantage of Black Friday, I bought my third Canon camera, having retired my 5 year old Canon Digital Elph at last. I still have the (heavy) AE-1, which needs a new shutter, if I choose to have it repaired. It took amazing pictures but it weighs a ton, and was the bane of any trip it went on, which was ALL of them, from 1979 until 2005. The new camera is heavier than the Elph, and I am testing it out. Anyway, these museum shots remind me of my youthful enthusiasm with my brand-new camera, which literally was attached to my hand for all of those years.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Windows at Bergdorf Goodman

I was out with a friend this evening and took many pictures of the new 2010 holiday windows, which I will edit over the next few days and post a link to, but here is a video that features a behind-the-scenes look! If you click on the word "video" you can see the full screen; as I have 3 columns in my blog, you are not seeing the right side of the video.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Etsy and Artfire both offer coupon codes (YAY!) so I am offering a 10% discount in both shops. On Etsy, the code is BLACKFRIDAYDISCOUNT, which you will need to enter at checkout in order to receive the discount. I am offering this one-day discount at BOTH stores, good for one purchase per customer, but you can purchase as many items as you want. I am advertising this code on Facebook and this blog only.

Since I am new to Artfire, and would like to get things moving over there, I am offering the 10% sale from BLACK FRIDAY through SUNDAY, November 28. At the moment I only have jewelry in that shop, so for vintage items, please stick with Etsy for that. You can get right to Artfire by clicking on the widget at right, which has the code conveniently handy!!! Again, one time per customer, but there is no limit on what you can purchase. The same goodies on Etsy are available at Artfire. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Scarabs and Shiny Pretties

I said I wouldn't, but I can't help myself. I made a bevy of necklaces and earrings last weekend and am listing them in the shops at Etsy and Artfire over the weekend. (see sidebar at left for links) Scarab lovers will be relieved to know that there are new peacock and magenta choices to choose from, as well a s a couple of other novelties. Here's a group shot!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thoughts at the Weekend

I have neglected this blog dreadfully, but I have had a huge dose of Real Life this year and my energies have had to go elsewhere. I am in the ongoing process of settling Dad's estate, which is almost a full-time job. I'm also still grieving, as he was my best friend as well as father. I'm a little more melancholy as last year at this time we were enjoying the fall - he was making strides with his physical therapy, getting out in the crisp autumn weather that he loved, and I hoped for nice quiet winter together as he gathered his strength. Alas, that was not to be, but we did share a very special time in his life, for which I am grateful, even though I am still in shock that he's really gone. I haven't felt much like making jewelry or fussing with costumes, and it shows in this blog and elsewhere. I have made a few new pieces celebrating fall and the colors I love, but the new vision for the shop will have to wait until next year. There is still so much to do, yet I am trying to take some time for myself, reading, cultural events around the city, fixing up my apartment, and plain old relaxing. The pressure of online marketing, blogging, Facebooking, and now the chaos at Etsy over so many issues there is forcing a re-think about where to put omy focus as far as running an online business. The arrows are pointing to an Online Portal of My Very Own, even if it only re-directs to my various online shops.

Etsy, where I started this venture in summer 2006, is now so huge that jewelry shops like mine are going unnoticed. There are so many resellers in my category that the search engines cannot cope with the volume of items that are waiting to be found; they desperately need to upgrade their servers and programming, and I hope that they will, but it has been a dismal year with a huge drop-off of views. I have been visiting the forums there and there are many unhappy sellers, but it's not clear what Etsy's objective is these days - to become the next Ebay and open their doors to mass wholesalers and resellers of goods from China, or somehow get back to their original notion of handmade? Buyers may not be aware of all of the problems over there, but there is a revolution in process. In the meantime, we struggle to stay visible and have to figure out the best places to advertise to our target markets. I have *never* paid to advertise, so that will be something to investigate in the months ahead. I was at 1000 Markets, which was an interesting place, and was juried, but the owners lost their grip on the project, despite heroic measures from many market managers, and they were bought by Bonanza, formerly Bonanzle. My shop was transferred over there, but it's not a well-known site. I just opened a shop at ArtFire, which will hopefully catch on. I have been at other online handmade shops over the years - smaller outposts, including DaWanda, which is huge in Europe, especially Germany, but Etsy has by far been the most successful place, though something is in the wind there on the eve of their going public.

A goal for next year is to be carried in shops in NYC and elsewhere, and to do some craft fairs again, as well as getting some more blog and magazine coverage. This all takes time and peace of mind, not to mention energy.

Anyway, I will try to blog a bit more often, and not just about what's new at the shop. I have been saved this year by my own personal work and caring friends and family, and have made some new friends; these relationships have been most nourishing. I have also left some relationships behind that were not helpful, but that is part of growth and I am not troubled by this.

It is almost Halloween, when supposedly the portal to the spirit world is at its most open. I am thinking of loving spirits who have passed on - my family , of course, and some dear friends who I miss very much. Fall is such a thoughtful time of year, symbolic of endings and transition, as nature winds down and prepares for the winter ahead. It has always been my favorite time of year, as for some reason I am drawn to things dark and sad, or "gothic", a trendier way of putting it. I am a fan of mystery and wonder, and my imagination runs amok on these cooler nights with a hint of wildness in the air.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween, everyone. I will not be Trick or Treating this year, but I am posting pictures from last year's wet and windy adventures, including two of my favorite little ghouls, which, you may remember. May it be cool and dry this year, and don't eat too much candy. I just had 4 wisdom teeth pulled, so cavities and other dental mayhem are very much in the forefront of my mind. Heed the warning, but have fun, angels and demons alike.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bat Mad

I finally found a use for a bat stamping that I bought this summer. It's quite hefty for a stamping (copper) and very nicely detailed. I only bought one, so this necklace is one of a kind. I posed this necklace with some beautiful red and black antique books (in French) from the Argosy Book Store in New York City, that I make a point to visit whenever I am near Bloomingdale's, which is not often, these days. Argosy had some very beautiful rare books, maps and prints and autographs, but it also has plenty of affordable items that they place outside for perusing. Last week there were coffee table books for $10, and the books I bought were $3 each, from an estate library, no doubt, and books are often gone in minutes. I have found some excellent photography and art books for almost nothing - it's a danger zone for me, but the antique books were crying out to join my already massive library. If you're interested, I recommend visiting them when you're next in NYC.

I already have bats in the shop, my bat bracelet that sells all year round, and cute little matching bat earrings, complete with tiny glass bright red blood drops.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spider Bites!

I spent an evening this week turning some glass spider buttons into pendants for a new limited line of necklaces and bracelets for Halloween. I love Czech glass buttons, especially when there is a metal shank on the back that can be easily removed so I can turn them into cabochons. Available in the shop here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall is a Comin In - Happy October 1!

NEW and appearing in the shop - I had a good time making some new fall pieces for my favorite season. It's humid and rainy just now and we had a brief cool snap a few weeks ago, but for the most point, it's frightfully warm. October is my favorite month - is it yours as well? Can't wait for cooler weather and leaf changes!