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!

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.

Confession

Hello All:

I had meant to announce the hiatus of the B + C blog.  I really had.  But, like so many things, it got away from me.  I just didn’t write anything for weeks and weeks with no explanation.  So, now, with great delay, here is my story.

In my other life, I am an attorney.  I work in California but I am licensed in Ohio.   My current job, for various reasons, does not require a California license.  Nevertheless, I got it in my silly little head to become licensed in California.  So, over the last several months, I invested a great deal of time, energy, and sanity that I could ill afford to spend to take the dreaded California Bar Exam.  I won’t know until November 16th if it all has paid off.  Wish me luck.

All that said, I have missed this activity and all that it represents for me — the looking at jewelry; the thinking about jewelry; the writing about jewelry; and the making of jewelry.  It is my life-line to the creative world.  Soon new, full blog posts will be coming.  In the meantime, check out these fun Etsy finds!

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.

The GG Interview

Jewelry designer, GG, was kind enough to share her thoughts with us.  It’s poetry.

Enjoy the interview and feast your eyes on her incredible work available at www.ggoriginal.com.

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

Can aesthetic communication be defined to some thing who is not “one of us?”  Beauty can be a provocation, a nuisance, for those who cannot taste it.  Didn’t the most supreme artist (the one who created human minds, so we can experience beauty, and others can’t) make it this way? Isn’t the human mind can be one of a kind?  Jewelry is a medium used for communication, from one person to another; so can this be shared with someone from another planet? Possibly yes, if they can feel what we feel. Let’s define what we can describe to them: Jewelry can enhance the wearer’s persona. It can be a statement of beauty, possibly prestige, sometimes jewelry screams, sometimes it is  quiet, sometimes it is romantic and intimate, sometimes it is provocative or funny. But jewelry can be annoying, simple, rich, and colorful, all while offering limitless experience, through its forms and pleasures.

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

Every day, every place, every new friend, each single glaze, a surprised turn of head following a bright sun reflection – all is leading to new discoveries. Walking on the beach, I see the algae on the stones, dry and old. Those gigantic stones, half buried in the sand, like lost sculptures by Henry Moore, and my sad algae so alone, so nicely curved and lonely, I want to turn this feeling in to the jewelry piece. I want to cast those feelings into a silver line. There is a moment when real form, turning around an orbit which is reshaping that form, this is the moment before it ends up in the sketchbook. Composition plays in your mind, and you hear the still music of floating line playing around with the graphical challenges, a game to attain perfect balance.

For me memories, reflections, observations, experiences are priceless. My Infinite Design Studio is surrounding me everywhere, limited only by passing time.

Next, I create my work in my small space under a big Cedar tree, I believe it is Cedar but might be some other majestic, gigantic Californian beauty.

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

No, not a favorite type of jewelry but the technique and type of metal I am using, at the moment, is influencing me. I look at the piece of metal and, suddenly, I know what the next project will be like. Sometimes, I feel I want to make a piece very quickly and simply, maybe brutally naive; other times it takes weeks until I see the idea and project, forming on the bench.     

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

There was one piece I did – for myself. It was a necklace and earring set made from a simple, forged, rusted iron wire. It’s an experimental set, very modern but also highly ornamental. Small, symmetrical and exposing a lack of exclusivity. I couldn’t display this set in any local gallery. The piece came about when I went to Washington D.C. and visited the Smithsonian Museum. After looking at some strange designs done by my favorite masters, I decided to experiment, myself. I did list this iron set on a jewelry auction, almost as a test. My necklace was sold and to a person from New York, who also purchased a piece by Art Smith on the same day. I do not know who it was, as they were an unlisted “private” buyer, but I realized that even my most crazy and unique creation should be presented to others. Otherwise they cannot come “alive.”

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

I love to experiment. Sometimes I work with a simple wire for months, later switching to a torch and kiln, but mainly I look for a melody of the piece. The line composition, emotion, or drama and story behind the piece – some aspect that adds a unique value – which can happen despite the technique I use.

Design is about discoveries. Forging metal is transferring energy and power from the metal into my final piece. So the design is constantly interacting with the metal, searching for its physical limit. Sculpting and casting gives me control over my projected vision, it is much like painting a landscape. I feel all the techniques I use are one of a kind and I enjoy them all.

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

I have multiple lines (styles) and multiple “personalities” in my work, but, generally, I classify them into 3 groups: Organic, Modern and Ornamental.

Pieces done with forging, usually have a modern flavor, but often I add organic details or finishes to them. I feel that sculpting shows more organic motives, and the historical knowledge of old artists, I find it so intriguing. I sometimes follow the melody of the old masters to develop pieces which end up in the Ornamental line.

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

Yes, many! Not one, but hundreds.  I believe that an awareness of the work of past masters, the knowledge of beauty and innovation of the past, is important to new design styles in any media.

In many of my designs, I hope to reach the contemporary human mind with a modern vision of past beauty. I love art, as I believe that knowledge and appreciation of extraordinary old trends guide and strengthens new creations.

To express what I value the most, I will choose as an example work by Art Smith, Margaret De Patta and René Lalique. The first two are Modernists, while Lalique is an Art Nouveau Master. They each have very different styles, but their work shares the most important and priceless value – it is built upon an Artistic Idea.

B+C: If you could go back in time and observe a specific jewelry making technique (e.g. cloisonné, casting, etc.), done at a particular place and time in history, what would it be and why?

I am currently interested in anti-clasting, synclastic techniques. Forms created in this specific style are so beautiful and so honest. I hope to collect all the necessary tools (sinusoidal stake, specific hammers), soon. Right now I still don’t have these in my studio. There are a few metal smith masters whom I admire, and I wish to be able to join their studios for an internship.

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

Contemporary jewelry creators should be searching for new styles, new visions. My challenge is, not only, to make more “new” rings or necklaces, but constantly update. Jewelry trends should influence others. Jewelry trends should help to create new and different lines of clothing. I look to jewelry to add a new shine on our futuristic silhouette.

 This week I started a new website to document of my past and recent work. I will be looking to network with clothing and product designers in order to cooperate on development of new styles. I am hoping to find more friends and clients ( on Etsy, at shows, in galleries, via web and this blog) who are share these same passions.

Yours, GG