I am resurrecting Bread + Cake for the sole purpose to give a shout out to Cari Streeter.  This story is a bit of a long walk.  Hear me out.

About two weeks ago, my little dog, Roo, (a.k.a. chuckle-head or chicken bone) decided to pick a fight with a bigger, stronger dog.  She ended up with a big mouth, full of big teeth, around her as she made the biggest fuss you could possibly imagine.  The humans broke it up and that was when Roo made an even worse choice than her selection of opponent – she ran.  She ran and ran and ran.  I chased and chased but I was no match for the frightened chicken bone.  Eventually she was just gone.

May I pause a moment to write a brief love letter to the good people of San Francisco?  People ran into the street after Roo.  They shouted to drivers to alert them to the presence of a “DOG IN THE STREET!!!!”  Joggers and bike riders gave chase.  One guy left his own dog at a cafe to search for mine.  One lady found some treats to give to Roo for “when you find her.”  Man, do San Franciscans love dogs and, man, do I love them for that.

But, back to the action.  So, Roo was gone.  The trail, after about 30 minutes, had gone cold.  Just then, I encountered some joggers who had seen her about 10 minutes earlier.  One of them mentioned that she still had her collar.  That was an incredible relief because I was sure it had been lost in the fracas.  Suddenly, I thought.  Collar.  Tags.  Phone numbers.  My phone!  I looked down to find several missed calls.  I looked up to see my husband answering his phone.  Roo had been found!

If you are familiar with San Francisco, you’ll know the Hayes Valley and the Fillmore/Pac Heights areas.  Roo had made it from Hayes Valley, where the fight happened, to Fillmore.  On Fillmore, Cari Streeter spotted an unattended Roo running down the street and jumped in to help.  As Cari went after Roo, Roo found Browser Books (my favorite bookstore).  Roo ran inside the bookstore and right behind the counter.  It was then that the John and I started getting calls from Cari and the good folks at Browser Books.

John and I hightailed it up to the bookstore.  When we arrived, there was Roo surrounded by adoring humans and seeming just fine, if not a little tired.  As we thanked everyone, Cari, who was still there comforting Roo, mentioned that she was on her way back to her trunk show at Gallery of Jewels just down the street.  The Universe is a funny place.

We got Roo checked out at Pets Unlimited/SFSPCA, who has saved our furry butts more than once, and discovered that all her wounds were superficial.  Not a single puncture wound.  No sutures needed.  A miracle and, honestly, a credit to the other dog who surely could have chomped Roo in half.  I’d love to be able to tell the other owner of the restraint of her dog.

After that, John and I went to find Cari at her trunk show.  There, we met her husband Rory, too.  What an awesome pair and what an amazing concept for a personalized and collectable jewelry line made with precious metals and real stones.  Cari and Rory also provide a fun experience — they take the jewelry-making show on the road.  Rory turns up at the trunk show with a small, portable jewelry bench so he can stamp personalization on the jewelry or adjust chains before your eyes.  It’s a great idea to bring the customization to you.

Of course, I could not resist.  I was so pleased to find that Cari and Rory have included zodiac symbols in their collection.  (I have been thinking for some time that the zodiac symbols should be on their way back.)  I put together a Virgo symbol with a sapphire drop on a chain and I’ve been calling it my “September necklace.”  It has not left my neck since that fateful day.

I love my Cari Streeter original.  I love that, when I look at it, I don’t think about the day we lost Roo.  Instead, I think about the day that we were so lucky and we were showered with so much kindness by so many.  For me, that’s the power of keepsakes — which are so often in jewelry form — the energy put into them can transform an experience and set a memory in place.

In any case, if you’re in market for a lovely, personalized piece, buy it from Cari.  She loves dogs.

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Inspiration.

By my calculations, about three years and four months ago, I walked into Manika Jewelry for the first time and struck up a conversation with the owner, Peter Walsh.  I went on and on, as I do, about how much I love jewelry and that, in another life, I should have been a jewelry designer.  Peter, as a I recall, listened patiently to my ravings and then mentioned that there were places where one could take lessons in metal-smithing and jewelry-making.  In particular, he mentioned a nearby school, the Revere Academy.  It was a startling revelation that jewelers — these magicians of art and science — were not born with pliers in one hand and a torch in the other.  Someone taught them … that was something that could happen!

So, my obsession having been seriously ratcheted up by my conversation with Peter, in due course, I began to take jewelry classes at Scintillant and I started this blog.  I am sorry to say that I had forgotten how all this began.  However, it all came back me to me two days ago while out for a stroll in the middle of the day with a coworker friend of mine. (Did I ever mention that I’m a federal employee?)  It was on our walk that we stumbled upon Manika’s new, gorgeous location at 645 Market Street, San Francisco.  As Peter Walsh recalled that I had been in the store before, in a flash, I realized that it all started with him.

With that, allow me to tell you about Manika.

41f1f9_47858a8ca27da20495c931dd0ddc9740The new location is stunning with lots of light and spacious cases that show off the collection in way that is not overwhelming.  The collection itself has a nice variety.  There is something for everyone but it all hangs together — fine craftsmanship being the running theme.

The real secret to the Manika experience is Peter.  He loves what he does and it shows.  He is welcoming and kind.  He seems to genuinely enjoy discussing the collection with those who wander into his store and not simply for the purpose of making a sale.  Call it being a nice guy or call it stealth salesmanship, his time with customers like me is an investment and it is how businesses should be run.  While one might not always be in the market to drop money on fine earrings, when the time comes, he’s the guy you want to give your money to.

During my recent visit, Peter said, “I could talk about what I love about jewelry all day.”  He says it like a fact without a hint of forced enthusiasm.  It is that clear enjoyment of the art that allows him to curate the store so beautifully.  He obviously connects with jewelry artists who are thinkers.  They work the details and take a creative approach to function.

While much can and should be said about each and every designer carried at Manika, I leave that for another day.  Those posts along with one about Manika’s new custom designer GiGi Gruber — a delightful presence in the store — yet to come!

What do you see?

The aesthetic appreciation of color is tricky. You can never be sure if you are really seeing the same color as someone else. We all know that there is such a thing as color-blindness but perhaps we fail to consider how subjective color is and how different it can seem to different people.

red-green-color-blind-isihara-test-rgthinkcreative

color wheelWhen I first saw jewelry made with kingfisher feathers, the effect was instantly burned into my memory.  More than any color I have ever seen before it makes me wonder how other people perceive it.   Is it blue?  Is it green?  Does it appear solid like a shell or like vapor?  I have never seen a blue that has such an impact on everything and every other color around it.  It is not just the sheen of the feathers, although that it certainly a part of it. No, it’s the color itself. These feathers are an otherworldly balance of navy, lavender, teal, and lime.  The overall color should be turquoise but it’s not — it’s more.  Mysteriously, I find that the color manages to avoid all suggestion of the delicate or pastel. Rather, I think that the color has a substance to it — an opacity.  But, what do you see?

Kingfisher-8Having seen some gorgeous kingfisher feather jewelry in person, I have to say that photos do not really do the color justice. Nevertheless, I found some lovely examples of antique pieces to share.

Be good.

In the last week, we had some family in town. Some of that family is young and small. Thus, we took in a lot of family-friendly sights and activities. Twice, we ended up at an aquarium. I guess that stands to reason in San Francisco, what, with all that water. One of them was the impressive aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. It was there that I spotted some information about coral.  Coral, as I am sure everyone knows, is often used in jewelry.  That, as the California Academy of Sciences explained, is not a good idea for our precious underwater ecosystems.  For more on this, there is this little piece from the amazing designer and all-around jewelry goddess, Temple St. Clair, whose name I only utter in hushed tones.

Declaring Coral Too Precious to Wear — by Temple St. Clair.

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

While we are at it, check out this fun, beaded play on coral!

Faux Coral Beaded Necklace with Matching Bracelet

Beaded faux coral by Threadsandpins on Etsy.

This doesn’t hurt anyone.  This is better.

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.

Ancient Wisdom

I’m like a ferret.  Dangle a shiny thing in front of me and you have my attention.  It could be a button or it could be a diamond.  It doesn’t really matter.  I have numerous childhood memories of rifling through sewing boxes, old jewelry boxes in attics, or long-forgotten purses under beds. All in search of something that might adorn.  Strung on a string or wrapped around a wrist.  Anything might be possible.  I spent a good deal of time in the care of other people as a kid and letting me search for treasure (read: junk) was the way to engage me.  Looking back, engaging me might not have otherwise been the easiest thing to accomplish.

In my personal psychology, the drive for things of adornment might have been about a lot of things.  A creative outlet or even a way to bond with women who were not my mother but nonetheless my temporary caregivers.  But, I think we all know the desire to create and wear jewelry is not unique to me or our time.

A brief search of Ebay easily bring up items such as these:

While I cannot verify the authenticity of any of these items, I have no reason to doubt it.  Of course, there are places all over the world that buy and sell antiquities and, certainly, sometimes those items are jewelry.  For me, setting aside the flat-out weirdness of being able to buy, from Ebay, the personal item of someone who died centuries ago, it is interesting to connect with the idea of adornment as simply a human thing that refuses to be defined by time or place.  It is just something we do and, seemingly, something we have always done.

For more on this topic, check this out:

Egyptians Created Jewelry From Meteorites