Sunday, December 6, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas Blings

Jean says: Fa la la la la, yadda yadda yadda! Well, kiddies, it's that holiday time of year again. Before the spiced (spiked?) eggnog addles our poor little brains and yours, we're getting nostalgic. In the spirit of the "twelve days of Christmas," we've decided to dedicate our four December postings to a series of twelve of our favorite [fill in the blank]. So, we hope, regardless of what holidays you celebrate, that you'll enjoy our first little offering -- These are a few of our favorite blings:

Valerie says: I can't add much to what Jean said. We just wanted to share a few of our favorite 'jewels'. We're equal opportunity jewelry wearers. We don't care what they're made of, as long as we like them. These are made of everything from plastic to gold to wool. Like good parents, we value the sparklers as much as the plainer members of the family. We just love them for different reasons. These are a few of my favorite blings:

5 Gold/Bold Rings. From top to bottom: My mother's ring, which I first stole from her jewelry box at fifteen, received as my birthday gift when I turned sixteen, and which she had already stolen from her own mother, who bought it in Tunis around 1926. Red plastic ring from El Museo del Barrio. The whole ring is cone shaped, coming to a (rounded) point underneath. White felt ring from DKNY. Blue tagua ring from Mary Jaeger. My father's high school graduation ring. (In case you're wondering, I never wear them all together. I got carried away with the theme.)

Imitation green Chinese Warring States bead on green ribbons and necklace/bracelet with hilarious hand painted porcelain carrots. (Flea market and thrift shop, respectively.)

Above, black lacquered wood pin by Rumiko Suzuki and pin of red leather over shaped wood. These are great for making a statement with a single piece of jewelry. (Traditional embossed leather pouch from Kyoto.)

Le rouge et le noir. Earrings of red plastic and zebra mussel shells. Bracelet of red and black industrial felt by O-Matic of Brooklyn. Red and black plastic lipstick covers from Isabella Rossellini threaded on red washi from Japan.

Nine ladies dancing, and strung on a plastic chorus line. Well, there used to be nine ladies dancing, but six were laid off. Made of polymer? By Niki de St. Phalle from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sterling renditions of photographs taken around the turn of the 20th century of the Selk'nam (also known as the Ona), indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego, in ceremonial costumes. By Marcela Alcaino of Chile. Strung on mizuhiki (Japanese paper cord).

Bonus Bling:

Three French hens brooch. This photo taken following very clever plastic surgery, which gave them back much of their youthful appearance. (I heard they had it done in Brazil. They said they'd gone on "vacation", and had come back feeling "refreshed".)

Jean's List:

1. Bees: Symbols of immortality and resurrection, bees are among the oldest emblems of the sovereigns of France. The Emperor Napoleon included them in his Royal Coat of Arms specifically to link his new dynasty to the history of France. Who knew? All I know is that my bright red Kenneth Jay Lane bee earrings (purchased at the most recent Metropolitan Pavilion's Vintage Fashion show) are my newest favorite bling.

As you can see from the photos, they look fabulous on me and displayed on DeeDee, my fabulous feline. A true East Village cat (named after one of the Ramones), she is a shelter cat from Social Tees Animal Rescue. She's a Bombay, a breed otherwise known as "parlor panthers" because of their muscular build and well-shaped skulls. Needless to say, she loves the limelight, as you will see as this posting progresses.

2. Crocodiles: Although I do love pirates (Johnny Depp, anyone?), my favorite character in Peter Pan was, of course, the crocodile! One of my favorite haunts in Milan is Angela Caputi's jewelery store. She designs colorful statement pieces in a light but extremely durable resin, a modern bakelite. I could not resist her crocodile bracelet. Fellow fashionistas lucky enough to see the exhibition "Iris Apfel, Rare Bird of Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum, at FIT and/or at the Nassau County Museum last year may remember that Iris too had a penchant for Angela Caputi's bold jewely. As you can see from the photos, my jet black crocodile is a substantial fellow, built much more like a De Soto than a Ferrari. He's humorous and cruelty-free. (The croc is displayed on a striped Philosophy by Alberta Ferreti sweater.)

3. Skulls: Loyal readers already know of my extreme fondness for bats. Hand in hand with that affinity is my love of skulls. Not that my closet looks like something out of "Sons of Anarchy", but skulls do appear on many of my scarves, socks, handbags, clutches, and yes, jewelry, especially rings, necklaces and earrings. My favorite East Village designers, Kirsten Hawthorne and Meredith Katz, have both incorporated skulls into numerous pieces in their respective collections. Kirsten's brass skull ring is smaller and almost delicate, providing a counterpoint to her earrings which combine silver or brass skulls with pearls or crystal. Meredith's "Made Her Think" line has incorporated numerous versions of molded plastic skulls into gumball size rings, rosary-like long necklaces, etc. In the photo, I am sporting Kirsten Hawthorne's silver and pearl earrings (with skulls with articulated jaws) and brass ring (in the top left of the photo) along with a white Made Her Think choker (with rhinestone spacers) and a variety of Made Her Think plastic rings in black, white and red. [Remember to click on the photographs for greater detail.]

4. Dice: Although I am a terrible gambler, I do love dice, and their kissing cousin, dominos. This allows me to indulge in two addictions at once since the best of both are in bakelite (be still my heart!).

In the second of four photos, I'm throwing kisses wearing an Art Deco bakelite domino pin on my hat and a Kirsten Hawthorne crystal ice and dice necklace on an oxydized metal chain. (Repeat that three times quickly!) I've accessorized the two with my crocodile cuff, a deco black bakelite ring and about ten other rings. (I rarely wear less than ten rings.) In the third photo, I tried to display a couple pairs of dice earrings, the deco domino pin, two black bakelite dice keychains and a few dice from my collection as accent pieces, including several round dice. The fourth photo gives you an idea of the rich variety of die colors, shapes and sizes.

5. Charms: For many of the same reason our mothers and grandmothers had charm bracelets, I have a charm necklace to which I keep adding gifts and trinkets of my travels. The current incarnation consists of the following components: two dice (I sense a theme), one in black bakelite and the other in silver (a blank cube with no numbers, "so every roll is a winner" from Kirsten Hawthorne); two silver skulls, the first is from Mexico and the second with a bird perched on top is a Kirsten Hawthorne design; a bronze wishbone, cast from the real thing (by Kirsten Hawthorne); a Victorian carved bog oak cross (a gift from the talented and ubiquitous Ms. Hawthorne); and two silver-toned mountain lion "fangs" (from Alexander McQueen-designed shoes from Puma). The necklace itself is a black leather cord. (Is it a coincidence that the biker town in "Sons of Anarchy" is named Charming?) I've accessorized the charm necklace with the deco bakelite domino pin and metal and plastic '50s dice earrings.

6. Cameo: My grandmother's black bakelite cameo is one of the sources of my love of bakelite and deco jewelry. It is a simple carved 2 inch by 2 inch black diamond shape. Its bakelite chain is turning a beautiful deep bluish-purple with age. (Aren't we all, dahling?)

In order to give you an idea of scale, I am modeling the cameo with the help of my Alexander McQueen skull scarf (a gift from rock star guitar strap designer, Jodi Head).

Editorial note: I have a new-found respect for jewelry photographers. After spending about twenty hours trying to photograph my jewelry as individual objects, I finally resorted to just wearing the pieces in photographs. I wanted to share with you one of the relatively elaborate vignettes I had composed to showcase the cameo: I had placed it strategically between an Art Deco vanity set (from Muse on Second Ave at East 2nd Street) and DKNY Chandon champagne splits (from DKNY's 20th Anniversary party earlier this year). Needless to say, the fact that I was spending hours composing, lighting and shooting the sets was too much for DeeDee, who had to get in on the action.

Bonus Bling:

5 Golden Rings (you now, the stuff that comes after 8 maids a-milking, 7 swans a-swimming and 6 geese a-laying) from the top: 1. Gold signet ring with family crest (the motto "Scientia et Prudentia", from my husband's side of the family); 2. Ruby and gold antique ring; 3. September 11th 18 K gold commemorative ring by Kirsten Hawthorne; 4. Amethyst and gold college ring (with a miraculous medal concealed on the inside); 5. Gold wedding ring consisting of two bands (in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition).

Social Tees Animal Rescue ( is located at 124 E. 4th St., NYC 10003 212-614-9653. This holiday season - and year-round, please keep your local animal shelters in mind for donating, volunteering and adopting! Social Tees Animal Rescue is not to be confused with that golf-centric young professionals' network.

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Early Christmas feast for your eyes: If you’re in New York City, run, don’t walk, to see Ruven Afanador’s exhibition Mil Besos at Throckmorton Fine Art (145 East 57th Street) before it closes this Saturday, December 12. Afanador worked with a group of flamenco dancers (who are theatrical to begin with), took them out of context and raised them to a new level of theatricality in fabulous grainy black and white images. The photographs have voluptuous shades of Serge Lutens, kabuki, Chinese opera, Nihon butoh, and Fellini. If you can’t make it to the gallery, look out for the book, by Rizzoli. And for a little taste, check out this video.

1 comment:

  1. Great post!, I love the fashion angle for the Christmas theme!