Teeny, tiny, little lapis pieces.

I am often in awe of jewelry that is not necessarily right for me. When it comes to picking out jewelry for myself, I go for the miniature and impossibly delicate. That’s kind of sad for me because I also love all things lapis. That gorgeous stone — like pieces of the night sky.  I never tire of looking at it.  Lapis has a funny habit of being invited into bigger and bolder pieces. (Perhaps, that is because it is a fairly soft stone and it is more durable in bigger chunks.)

This last weekend, my husband and I made a stop at the Union Street Festival in San Francisco.  There, among the many booths of handmade goods, food, and services, I found this little gem:

Beautiful Lolabean lapis bracelet.

Beautiful Lolabean lapis bracelet.

Tiffany Rodgers Bean of Lolabean makes many sweet, delicate items and it is worth checking out her other work.  With this piece, I love being able to have my favorite stone showcased so simply and in just the right amount.

What can I say?

Here, I so often try to find new things to say about design elements that speak to me. Sometimes, I just want to just share something I’ve found and say, “Hey, I love that. I would wear that.”

But, really, shouldn’t I say more? Shouldn’t I say why? You know, it’s just not that easy. It’s easier to speak of lovely technique or innovation but it’s harder to say why something just strikes a chord.

Among the lines of jewelry that cause words to fail me is the work of Erin Jane.

White Jade NecklaceLong White Jade Necklace

So, about this, I can scare up a few words.  As I’ve said before, one of the things I most appreciate in jewelry design is when the designer really makes necessary components do some of the aesthetic heavy-lifting.  Jane has done this here with the silver band connecting the pendant to the chain.  With this little maneuver, she’s cleverly elevated the design from what could of have been a much more forgettable necklace.

Gold Bracelet with White Topaz (2)Gold Bar Bracelet with White Topaz

Nice. Clean. Simple.

Chocolate Diamond NecklaceChocolate Diamond Three Stone Bar Necklace

I didn’t write fast enough.  This has sold.  It’s beautiful, though, and maybe she’ll make more.  I love dots.  I love mixed metal.  This is no brainer.  Love it.

Pierced Through The Heart

I was not allowed to get my ears pierced until I was eleven. Eleven! The shame. It took an all-out campaign to get my dad to acquiesce.   Even then, he wouldn’t take me.  Having acquired permission, I had to talk a babysitter into it.  Once pierced, I quickly accumulated a collection of crappy earrings.  I loved them all and no morning was complete until I worked a pair until those elusive holes.

Every so often I will notice an adult woman who has never had her ears pierced. As important as it was to me as kid to have it done, now, I sort of admire the restraint it took to not mutilate ones ear lobes in order to wear Claire’s finery.  Admiration aside, when I see such a stalwart, I wonder: “How did you make it through your adolescence that way?  Did your parents just never give in?  Did you ever try bargaining for it with a good report card?”

These days, and I am not sure when it happened, I don’t wear earrings very often.  Usually, I forget to put them in.  And, when I go looking to expand my now meager earrings collection, I come away disappointed.  It all seems so done and predictable.  Ultimately, I think earrings have a tall order to fill.  They are, after all, next to one’s face.  The can’t just be pretty objects in and of themselves — they have to be flattering. 

But, I looked hard, dear readers, and I found signs of life.  In particular, I found that Heidi Daus’ earrings have a great deal of life.  She has a wonderful line jewelry that is all worth a comment.  But, today is about earrings — so here we go.

Big, Bold, and Repurposed

It is not too difficult to find old jewelry components that are suitable for being repurposed into new pieces.  Your mother’s jewelry box, thrift stores, antique stores — it’s everywhere, really.  The trick is in the designing.  It takes practice to do it well and have collected components find a home in a new piece.  Peiyu Tan, who seems to specialize in repurposed Nepalese jewelry, has done a wonderful job doing just that.

These and other amazing pieces, which are unbelievably affordable, can be found in Peiyu’s Etsy store, UniqueNepal.

A Diverse Vision

Artists, Gil and Irena Tsafrir, have used their respective skills to create a beautifully varied and diverse line of jewelry. Their line, which is available in the Etsy store, zulasurfing, is full of unusual ideas — it is fun, bold line.

The Mark Poulin Interview!

Hello Readers:

The very talented and prolific jewelry designer, Mark Poulin, kindly agreed to answer some (slightly odd) questions for Bread and Cake.  I think you’ll enjoy this window into his jewelry-designing mind.  His work can be found in his Etsy store and on his website.


B + C: How would you define “jewelry” to someone from another planet?

Jewelry is an object we wear on our bodies as an adornment, it can range from the simple and understated to the flashy and attention grabbing. The wearer uses this as an extension of his or her fashion sense and an as expression of their personality.

Jewelry satisfies so many of an earthlings needs. First off, so many of us have a need to collect, and with so many styles of jewelry it is easily collectible. Also we earthlings are a sentimental bunch and jewelry can mark so many of our occasions from our births to our weddings to our deaths. Jewelry also gives us a sense of style and allows us to express our personal taste and sometimes flaunt our status. There are some of us that wear the same jewelry every day of our lives and others who change it multiple times a day.

B + C: Please describe the place where you make your creations. What do you like to keep around you for inspiration?

I love my West Oakland workshop. It has the space to spread out. Separate places for soldering, polishing, enameling, photographing, designing, and for my piles of unfinished projects. All I really need for inspiration is a good sound track and a sketchbook.

 B + C: Do you have a favorite type of jewelry (e.g. ring, bracelet, necklace, etc.) to make? What is it and why?

 I love rings. I really love rings. Even though I’m known more for making necklaces, there is something about rings that fascinates me. They seem to carry an intimacy with them.

B + C: What is your favorite piece of jewelry that you ever made? Where is it today, if you know?

The first ring I ever made. I still have it. It was a simple cut out of hammers and nails on a wide band.

B + C: What is your favorite technique to use in your jewelry making and why?

I just love enameling. Fusing glass to metal will always amaze me, as will the possibilities that that can produce. I think this passion comes from all the years I worked as a ceramicist, clay and glaze, enamel and metal.

B + C: What theme or vision do you feel that your line reflects?

I feel like I’m trend based, but not in a shopping mall kind of way, rather in an underground crafty kind of way. I appeal to the people who like quirky. Everything I make is a little off kilter, made to steal hearts like an old dog at the pound you just have to take home and love. I am that little bridge between the cartoon world and the jewelry world.

B + C: Do you have a favorite jewelry designer?  Who is it and what do you like about his or her work?

I’m more inspired by illustrators and painters than jewelers. Right now I’m obsessed with Deth P Sun and with Luke Chueh. In my opinion both painters have elevated a cartoon style to a higher art. Both are prolific and draw all the time. Both are very down to earth.

B + C: Predictions? Plans? Are there future projects, shows, or sales that you would like to share with us?

I’m excited about 2012. I’ll be releasing ten new sterling silver mother and daughter charm sets, a new cartoon glass jewelry line. I’m really expanding my pure-modern jewelry shapes and adding some exciting color combinations. I’m also drawing some images for a puzzle company geared towards kids. That should keep me busy.

Hi Dad!

My sweet father reads this little blog every day.  This one is for him.

In various ways, I have ink in my blood.  For his entire career my father worked in the newspaper business.  My mother (an artist) and her sister (a writer) had a great love of amateur printing.  They had both been members — my aunt a life long member — of the shadowy, sinister organization known as American Amateur Press Association.  (I kid, I kid.  Check out their website and you’ll see how funny that is.)

Marge (Adams) Petrone, Writer & Ginny (Adams) Powell, Artist
My mom, Ginny (Adams) Powell

In honor of the family love of printing, my dad once played jewelry designer with this ingenious idea.

These are pieces of type once used in a newspaper printing press.  I imagine that my dad got these from work when old equipment was being replaced.  (If I am wrong, I am sure that he’ll let me know and I’ll issue a correction.)  In any case, dad saw the beauty in the shape and the symbolism of the items themselves.  He selected a “V” for my mom, Virginia, and a “M” for her sister, Margaret.  He had the type plated and a bale added so that they could be worn as pendants and, indeed, they were both worn by two stylish, strong women.  Beautiful, stunning, unique items.  I am honored to be their caretaker.

Playful Textiles

We are going to venture beyond metals once again with the playful, sculptural, fiber pieces from Mandy Besek‘s Etsy store .  I didn’t think that I’d write something about non-traditional jewelry materials again so soon.  But, Mandy’s work really caught my attention with its bold forms and flowing spontaneity.

OK, I know this last one is a purse but just look at those colors.  It would be like being able to carry your lipstick around in a watercolor painting.

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993

Today’s post is a sidestep from jewelry.  Although Audrey Hepburn’s image in popular culture became intertwined with one of the great jewelry houses of all time, this post is about what she, and her most iconic role, have meant to me. 

Audrey Hepburn died 19 years ago today.  She resides in our collective imagination and, perhaps, always will.  There isn’t anything that I can say about Audrey Hepburn that hasn’t been said before and said better.  Of course, she was a style icon and devastatingly beautiful.  She was made all the more beautiful by her humanness and kindness and generosity, which are all well-documented.

The only thing that I can add to the world of sentiments about Audrey Hepburn are my own.

Like so many people, for me, the line between Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly is a blurry one.  I first saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1985 with my dad.  I was ten years-old.  We were able to see it on the big screen because the old, fancy theater, where the local orchestra played, had started also showing classic movies.  At that time, I did not appreciate what a rare treat it was to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s in a theater.  I fell in love with the movie.  I was young enough to forgive the movie some of its flaws, such as Mickey Rooney’s horrendously racist portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi, and I just focused on the chic, yet goofy, world of Holly Golightly.  I think it was also lost on me that she was a prostitute.

Seeing Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time was more than just a cinematic experience for me.  My little, ten year-old, mourning heart became helplessly attached to Audrey Hepburn or Holly Golightly or both.  At that point, my tall, thin, stylish mother had been dead about two years and I couldn’t help but draw comparisons.  I felt like I had been thrown some sort of life-line in the form of Audrey Hepburn.   It’s strange, I know, but Audrey Hepburn and my mother have always been a little blended in my mind.  I hope they know, wherever they are, that it is a credit to them both.

As an interesting aside, I read once that the character of Holly Golightly is a motherless daughter archetype.  I think that goes for both how she is portrayed in the movie as well as how she was written by Truman Capote in the novella of the same name — perhaps that is the only similarity.  From what we know of the character’s life, which is not much, she’s a survivor but basically feral.  In addition to the fact that Audrey Hepburn reminds me of my mother, the character of Holly Golightly as a motherless daughter resonates with me as well. There is just something disorienting about losing one’s primary example of womanhood.  Once an adult, you can end up feeling a little like you sprung, fully formed, from the ground and there you are — a woman — and not entirely sure how it happened.  Holly Golightly acts as if she feels like that.

I maintain that I can pick out a woman who lost her mother in childhood at a hundred paces.

I’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s countless times.  I know every Audrey Hepburn line and, when drunk, I’ve proven it more than once.  As a result of loving the movie, I began a love affair, from afar, with Tiffany & Co., the brand, as well.  Honestly, Tiffany is not something that would normally appeal to me.  While it’s true that their quality is legendary and their customer service unparalleled, it just isn’t something to which I would naturally gravitate, as it would strike me as too elitist.  But, because of all that I have written here, about Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tiffany has always pulled at me from the heart.  Successful branding?  Perhaps.  But, I don’t care.  It’s part of my internal world and always will be.

Knowing what all of these things have meant to me, my sweet husband gave me a less complicated reason to be emotionally attached to Tiffany.  He proposed at the Tiffany here in San Francisco and, right then and there, we purchased the beautiful engagement ring that sits now on my hand — bringing a long and sentimental story about my childhood, my mother, an actress, and a movie full circle.  The ring didn’t come out of a Crackerjack box but I love it all the same.

Many Words Come to Mind

Clever, tactile, real, polished and raw.  These are all words that come to mind when viewing Vicki Pellegrini’s work in her Etsy store Alegra Jewelry.  Her work displays a great sense of shape and scale.  Every design has the kind of visual punch that only comes from good design — each piece is surprising but remains wearable.