Friday, September 27, 2013

Falling in love with Miriam

It is happening. I'm falling in love with Miriam Haskell jewelry. I suppose it was only a matter of time.

I am fascinated by her designs and her craftsmanship. Beginning in the late 1920s, she created big, colorful, 3-D pieces that were desirable not for the materials used but for their elaborate, handmade quality. Women lusted after them. Many of the same women who wore Cartier and Tiffany also wore Haskell (Joan Crawford, the Duchess of Windsor, etc.). She had a completely different way of constructing her jewelry than other costumer jewelers of the time. Mainly, she never used glue. As described in the "history" section of the modern Haskell company website, "the [jewelry] element, no matter how diminutive, was threaded, encrusted, or wrapped by hand onto a wire, a chain, or handset into a channel or finding. It’s the tight embroidery of the elements-that bares no sign of the base underneath - that is one of the most distinctive features of Miriam Haskell jewelry."

This is a wonderful appraisal (video and transcript) of a collection of Haskell jewelry from the archives of Antiques Roadshow. The appraiser, Jeanenne Bell, does a great job of pointing out the things that make Haskell jewelry unique. Put on your diapers before you watch it.

Because her pieces weren't signed before 1940, collectors use different ways of authenticating early Haskell pieces. The use of Miriam Haskell advertisements, like the ones here, is one way to identify her earliest work. How cool is it to see the actual jewelry along with the ads?! You can see many more 1930s-1940s ads on this excellent resource page over at Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry.

Monday, September 23, 2013


This enamel bow necklace I just stocked in the shop is such a perfect harbinger of colder times to come. It makes me think of sugar cookies and black velvet and parties and tinsel and . . . all of the best holiday things. It would be such a great accessory for winter!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bejeweled in death

The art historian and L.A.-based photographer Paul Koudounaris spent years tracking down the skeletons of early (supposed) Christian martyrs and photographing their remains for his book, "Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs" (due for release October 8th). The skeletons were discovered in Rome in the 16th century and then sent to Catholic churches across German-speaking Europe to be dressed, adorned and enshrined as holy relics. They were intended to replace the relics destroyed during the tumult of the Protestant Reformation. The photos by Mr. Koudounaris document an unprecedented number of these skeletons, many of which have been tucked away and out of sight in churches and storage units for nearly a century.

The article in The Daily Mail chooses (unfortunately) to conjure Indiana Jones and describe some of the remains as "gruesome" but the UK Huffington Post mostly resists the temptation to sensationalize the work. Mr. Koudounaris believes that the remains represent "the finest works of art in human bone ever made." It is difficult to disagree.

Photos courtesy of The Daily Mail, Copyright Paul Koudounaris/BNPS

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flying with a toddler

As most of you know, my family recently returned from two weeks in Morocco. Although we have traveled with Severen before (I have flown solo with him a few times, too) this was the biggest trip for us. I thought I'd share with you what I packed for him on the plane, as well as what I wish I had packed.

Severen did a great job, mostly because my husband and I performed hour after hour of our most dazzling parenting stand-up comedy/entertainment routine to date. Especially on the flight home from Paris to Detroit, when Severen looked at me with sad toddler eyes 30 minutes into the 9 hour vol and whimpered, "All done, Mama." I think we both aged a year on that particular flight. But honestly, it was pretty much what I expected it to be.

Liked best . . . 

Take a special bag just for the kiddo. Good move. Although the little backpack was too heavy for him to carry very long, it was helpful to have all of his diversions in one place rather than mixed in with my stuff. Things get so chaotic on those long flights with all the taking out, putting back, taking out. "Where are the raisins, honey?" "I think I saw them in the bag with your contacts next to the tiny raccoon. But that was a while ago." (GOD HELP US). I kept his toiletries, jammies, etc. in a different spot, btw.

Stickers, stickers, stickers. When there is nothing else to do, put something sticky on your face. We took Band-Aids, Post-It Notes, and car stickers. We stuck these all over the place in our aisle. The Band-Aids were extra awesome because he loved to open them. Bonus: It was easy to clean everything up when we landed. No harm, no foul.

Little toys for a little space. The small animals and cars we brought along were way more popular with Severen than I anticipated. He loved it when we ran the cars all over the seat backs, made them leap over armrests, etc. It was like a little racing course. And the animals could have "snacks" on the tray tables, play hide and seek, walk with us around the cabin, etc. They could even make tracks in the Play-Do!

Great flight attendants. I nursed Severen a lot on our flights - all six of them. I asked for lots and lots of water for him and me, in addition to what was served. Oftentimes, instead of a little cup I was given a whole bottle of water (score!) We also got extra bananas and bread. We even got a whispered invitation to stretch out in a secret, empty row for a little while.

Next time . . .

Take an ipad. Some good friends of ours gave us this advice and we just didn't get it done. If we take a long trip like this again, I would love to have one with some fun apps for him. There were seat-back TVs on the Trans-At flight, and we had toddler headphones at the ready,  but Severen wasn't interested. He is a little too young to be excited about unlimited TV access. He did love the remote, though!

I'll take bigger beads for the threading activity. Severen tried hard to work with them, but most of the time they just slipped away from him. I would like to make an official apology here to the person who had to clean up tiny pony beads from our seats and aisle. I tried to keep that situation under control, really I did!

Bring more snacks from home. I brought tomatoes, blueberries, dried fruits, crackers, etc. on the way there. But it still wasn't enough. There were a few times when I just really, really needed to give Severen something to munch on and I didn't have anything. Fail. I also learned the hard way that if you don't request an in-flight kids meal (Severen just had regular meals), your child won't get served first. Because we were near the back of the plane, we waited over an hour while the rest of the cabin got dinner en route to Paris with a very tired, very hungry boy. I finally got up and fetched his meal. Duh. I could have done that right away and averted an hour of fussiness.

That's what I can remember. Have you traveled with a small, mobile person before? I'd love to hear your "Liked Best / Next Time" comments below!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Victorian twins

Fun fact: The Victorian taille d'epargne enamel locket I just added to the shop (pictured on the right) is the twin to a locket I listed over two years ago. Happily, the version I just stocked wins out as the more handsome of the two, with vivid blue enamel in addition to a seed pearl accent at the center!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Make me an offer ◆ Handbags

I'm purging some handbags from my shop and personal collection. Do you see something here that you like? Get in touch to make me an offer or ask questions about a piece. Here are the basic stats to get us started (measurements do not include handles/straps).

1. 1980s Whiting & Davis mesh handbag, hinged frame and goldtone accents. 9" x 10"
2. 1990s faux leather handbag/clutch w/ two compartments, one zippered one snap. 7" x 11"
3. 1960s Japanese beaded purse with zipper and top handle. 5" x 9"
4. 1930s black velvet handbag with rhinestone clasp. 6" x 7"
5. 1960s "La Regale" Japanese beaded purse. 5" x 8"
6. 1910s Arts & Crafts "Bosca Built" tooled leather purse. Two slim pockets, original mirror. 6" x 7"
7. 1940s goldtone mesh evening purse. 4.25" x 3.25"
8. 1930s Czech beaded purse with top handle. 5" x 7"
9. 1910s double-hinged frame set with rose-cut glass, bag fabric dates later. 6 1/2" x 7 1/2"
10. 1940s blue velvet clutch with lined interior and side pocket. Rhinestone flip clasp, goldtone frame. 6" x 8"