My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

RimbaudMania

05.12.10

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The first of several posts about my trip to Paris must be about the exhibition pictured above. Opening on May 6, at Galerie des Bibliothèques, Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, 22 rue Mahler, 75004 Paris and running through August 1 when it will move to the Rimbaud Museum in Charleville, this event was the impetus for our travel. Thrilling does not begin to describe the feeling of being there for the opening, and experiencing the show.

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Beautiful typography in neon orange and acid green, and an installation on the gallery walls, pictured above, welcomed visitors into the museum.

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And, in the very first room, my two pieces of jewelry drew attendees to their glass cabinet. The lighting was too dramatic for my digital camera, so I picture the pieces in the 320-page exhibition catalog/book.

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It’s a gorgeous book (in French) and as soon as I have a link for purchasing I’ll share it with you dear readers.

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Many of you are familiar with the Poet Rosary necklace that curator Claude Jeancolas originally purchased for the exhibit; this piece has been an integral part of the So Charmed Poets Collection for a long time now. When Mssr. Jeancolas informed me about the piece’s inclusion in RimbaudMania as well as his 18th published book on the subject of the iconic poet, I decided to make him a small gift, hoping he might wear it on his jacket to the opening. This was included in the show instead. Pictured above, the piece was crafted from a vintage pin finding and includes a vintage pen nib inscribed with the words Made in France. A limited number of these will be available at So Charmed soon. Although Claude was being followed around by the press and many admirers the evening of the opening, he made time to speak with myself, David, and Molly, remarking how the Internet had brought us together and how poetic that was!

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This fun crossstitch/embroidery hung above my jewelry case. Other cultural items in the room described as Objects Fetiches included furniture, clothing, stamps, plates, even an I Heart Rimbaud coffee mug.

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Much of the exhibit was organized by medium, the second room being music and film. Patti Smith figured prominently, along with the Clash, and the poster from the Leonardo DiCaprio film, Total Eclipse. If memory serves me, it was via Patti Smith that I first discovered Rimbaud, when I was in college studying art. He was a hero, icon, and muse to many musicians and artists in the burgeoning punk/new wave scene. A novel, Godlike by punk poet/musician Richard Hell was also included in the exhibit.

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There were a lot of photographs included, my favorite being the series by Robert Mapplethorpe illustrating A Season in Hell.

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One room contained works of fine art from the Rimbaud Museum, including the piece above by Picasso. There were also lovely ink drawings by Jean Cocteau, Fernand Leger, Alberto Giacometti and Jim Dine among others.

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Graphic design was well-represented with dozens and dozens of book covers, including the illustrated calligraphic piece above by Leger, one of my favorites in the exhibit.

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The most touching room in the show held encased original manuscripts by the poet; seeing these handwritten documents up close was intimate and breathtaking and made us sorely wish we could read French. Speaking of which, I plan to be in touch with Mssr. Jeancolas regarding an English-language version of the exhibit and book for possible travel to the USA. I’ve thought of The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, and the French Embassy as possible venues. All of these, naturally, here in Washington DC! A great idea, n’est pas?

And, with that sentiment, I’ll leave you with a poem by Arthur Rimbaud and bid you adieu, for now.

A DREAM FOR WINTER

In the winter, we shall travel in a little pink railway carriage
With blue cushions.
We shall be comfortable. A nest of mad kisses lies in wait
In each soft corner.

You will close your eyes, so as not to see, through the glass,
The evening shadows pulling faces.
Those snarling monsters, a population
Of black devils and black wolves.

Then you’ll feel your cheek scratched…
A little kiss, like a crazy spider,
Will run round your neck…

And you’ll say to me : “Find it !” bending your head
– And we’ll take a long time to find that creature
– Which travels a lot…


Button Button

02.22.10

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Who’s got the button? Well… I know, but I’m not telling. Suffice to say that over the weekend I was granted entrance to the inner sanctum of one of the most prominent and experienced importers of Czech bohemian glass buttons in the USA. Folks, I’m not a religious woman, but I thought I had died and awoken in heaven. When my kind and generous host invited me to open any of the dozens and dozens of drawers and boxes in the collection room, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t having one of my recurring thrifting/collecting/hunting/gathering dreams.

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The photo above captures the full haul of the day, which would have been 10x that amount had I not been on a pauper’s budget. Along with the buttons is a delicious 1/2 pound bag of glass beads in an incredible and irresistible palette. My plan is to craft one or two super duper long rosary beaded necklaces out of these. A good busy-hands activity while watching my new favorite shows (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Pawn Stars, etc.).

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The Czech Republic has a long history of some of the finest glass work in the world, dating back to the Renaissance. Vintage beads and buttons are very collectible and currently commanding ultra high prices. Each button was/is handcrafted, including painting on the fronts or reverse painting, as shown above.

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Today, some of the antique molds are being used again, and new techniques are adding to the amazing beauty of these miniature works of art.

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Colors and styles range from baroque, to psychedelic, to mid-century modern with abstraction and patterns, as well as cats, dogs, magic mushroom men, puddings, fleur de lys, fairytales and rhinestone embellishments. I am deeply fond of some of the new figurals including the cicadas and moths (bats?). The white swan on pink glass with blue water could be my number one favorite. It’s an older button and getting difficult to come by.

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Using the glass buttons in jewelry-making is a challenge; most  have glass self-shanks that can not be removed without damaging the piece. I’ve seen people wrap fancy brass filigrees around the buttons but I find that to be visually noisy and distracting. So I’m working with my own techniques of incorporating these into my work… as a good friend says, a big part of jewelry-making (especially assemblage without formal “smithing”) is the solving of engineering problems.

American Pickers: The Jodi Episode

02.18.10

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I guess I’ve been a picker all my life. It started back at RISD with my first sojourn to a Salvation Army store and I’ve been addicted to thrifting ever since. The 70’s were a real heyday for this passion, especially for vintage fashionistas. Back then an intricately beaded 1950’s cashmere sweater could be had for a quarter, a 1930’s gown for a few bucks. Good luck even finding such garments today!

But before we get too cranky about the good ‘ole days of thrifting, we also need to consider that thanks to the Internet good thrifting or picking is now a global occupation. With Web sites like Ebay and Etsy, one is no longer confined to the trash in one’s own backyard. And that’s really where this story begins.

Couple of months ago, I purchased a “found object” on Etsy to incorporate into a piece of jewelry, paying an exorbitant $7.50 for a single item that looked like an old bicycle reflector (Seriously, I consider that to be a lot of money). That said, when it arrived, I immediately fell in love with this gigantic plastic “ruby” that seemed to be set in either bakelite or celluloid (early plastics, pretty collectible stuff). And so, the “Travelite” joined the other piles of crap-I-mean-treasure in my studio, awaiting inspiration. And, because I loved it so much I knew I’d be reluctant to sell it, so I started casually searching for another online, not even knowing what the darn thing was/is.

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Meanwhile, over the past weekend I finally decided to just thread a nice piece of vintage punk-plaid ribbon through the handy slots on the back, and when I put it around my neck, I knew it was going nowhere; this baby was mine! It is just so super cool. But I decided to search again, and found the listing pictured above on Ebay. Imagine my surprise at the $725 price tag.

After picking myself up off the floor, I wrote to the seller to inquire about the history and provenance of this item. He really had no further information for me except to say that it is an extremely rare collectible item and will fetch anywhere from $750 – $1000, essentially making this mysterious object (aside from my first-marriage engagement ring) my most valuable piece of jewelry!

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Should you decide to purchase the ebay listing here’s your link. I still don’t really know a thing about this lovely item, the intended functionality, etc. Was it an advertising premium? Why would you need a personal reflector “Travelite?” Anyone out there with more info, please email! And for other very fun found-object jewelry (when I can stand to part with it) please visit So Charmed.

Hearts A’Plenty

01.06.10

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It’s getting near that time of year again, where hearts are beating louder than usual, expressing their love on St. Valentine’s Day. Hearts have been an icon of choice at So Charmed since the beginning; you can find them in every collection on the site. Some hearts are a bit macabre… pictured above, Bring Me the Heart of Marie Antoinette.

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While some hearts are blue, possessing a web of Stress Fractures, as pictured above. This found object necklace resides in the personal collection of one of my favorite hearts, Ms Stephanie of Beverly Hills, CA.

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Some hearts are sugary sweet and look good enough to eat, like these delicious Birthday Cake earrings created by the talented Madame Eclore for So Charmed.

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Here and there, a heart has recieved more violent damage than a mere stress fracture, but always can be patched up again to get back in the game. My Mended Heart was sold long ago, a one-0f-a-kind necklace made from a hand-dyed lace wedding dress embellishment that I appropriately tortured with my nice and then fixed with stitches, safety pins and duct tape… because I am a very caring person and do not want to see any heart suffer.

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But to leave you on a sweeter note (if ironically so), there are even Happy Puffy Hearts at So Charmed, like the little hair baubles pictured above. And, if you’ve read this far, you deserve some special sweetness! Please take 15% off of any piece of jewelry that features a heart, with the exception of sterling charm bracelets. Mention this blog post with your paypal payment and I will refund you promptly! Offer good through the end of January. xoxoxox, my loves!

Silly Kitties

01.05.10

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Where’s Iggy?

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THERE’S IGGY!!!!! (And his brother, Angelo, in the background)

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Angelo often hides under blankets too, but tends to do a better job tucking in paws and tail.

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