Bon anniversaire, René Lalique!


Rene Lalique

René Jules Lalique was born in the village of Ay in France on April 6, 1860; his family moved to Paris when he was two years old. He attended art schools in Paris and London, and began work as a freelancer designing jewelry for Cartier and Boucheron. He became one of the Art Nouveau movement’s most famous designers.

I love the details on his jewelry including small insects and flowers, and his sinuous metal work. His attention to detail is amazing. Below are a few of his stunning pieces.


Comb. Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Necklace of gold, enamel, opals, amethysts. 1897-99. Gift of Lillian Nassua. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lorgnette of

Lorgnette of gold, enamel, diamonds, jade and glass, ca. 1900. Gift of Mrs. J.G. Phelps Stokes. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Winged Sylph

Winged Sylph, 1889. National Museum of Art of Japan

Pendant with Depiction of a Winter Scene, ca. 1900. State Hermitage Museum

Pendant with Winter Scene.

The museum pieces above are wonderful to look at but if you’d like your very own piece of Lalique jewelry, 1stdibs has this beauty for sale.

Very rare Les Danseuses necklace at 1stdibs

Very rare Les Danseuses necklace at 1stdibs

Lalique website
Biographical sketch of Lalique
Wikipedia Entry (has some nice photos of his glass work)


Head over Heels

Museum of Modern Art Tokyo

Image courtesy Museum of Modern Art Tokyo.

My interest in shoes and in Art Deco fashion led my wandering researcher’s brain to search for Art Deco shoes, and look what I found! Beautifully crafted wooden heels decorated with rhinestones, beads, and colored celluloid  – I’m head over heels in “love” with these! [NB: My English teachers would not approve “loving” inanimate objects- apologies to Mrs. Cantrell.] As I searched for more information on decorative heels, I stumbled across the wonderful website Shoe Icons that describes itself as the “First Russian Virtual Shoe Museum.” The website has nicely organized collections of shoes, printed material, and shoe accessories you can browse or search for, and it’s been meticulously documented. The Museum also publishes books, including one called Red Shoe which I’d love to see. I couldn’t find it in WorldCat, alas.


The other website I found useful in this research was the Kyoto Costume Institute’s Digital Archives. Its focus is Western clothing and includes a timeline you can click on to see fashions from a particular era. Their archive is sponsored by Wacoal. Wooden heels covered with pearlized celluloid, decorated with flowers, painted in bronze, green and violet.

Wooden heels covered with pearlized celluloid, decorated with flowers, painted in bronze, green and violet. Image courtesy Shoe Icons.

Portland Favorites – Eden: A Garden of Opulent Curiosities

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In this season of buying gifts and the occasional party outfit, I’ve been focusing on buying from local independent stores. I like supporting our local economy – it’s better for local people who make and sell things here, it’s better for the environment (in contrast to that sweater made in China I had my eye on) and I think it fosters a sense of community. In the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve, I’ll highlight a few of my local favorites, starting with Eden: A Garden of Opulent Delights.

This little shop in the Pearl is so much fun to wander through. The proprietress, Cindy Rokoff, stocks the stores with a nice selection of books, jewelry, perfume, vintage clothing, and wonderful ephemera and oddities. The salespeople are really friendly but not at all overbearing or pushy.
It’s hard to know where to start. The store has a nice selection of fragrances, including  Serge Lutens. The great thing about the store’s perfume displays is that they type up little cards that list the scents in each perfume. I can skip right by anything with patchouli or jasmine in it – really, such a great idea.There are scented candles, fancy shampoos, green lip gloss, and lovely soaps. The librarian in me likes looking at the nice selection of books, mainly art, fashion and design. You can also find bottle openers in fun shapes, Bolivian shawls, colorful pillows, a small selection of candy, and rugs.

My favorite merchandise to drool over is the small but stylish selection of vintage clothes, the jewelry, and vintage accessories. There’s a rack of Little Black Dresses of all kinds with a decent variety of sizes, a rack of vintage kimonos, and a rack of pretty coats. The prices are reasonable and you’ll be wearing something unusual and recycled. They just published their annual Holiday Look Book – it’s beautifully done.

They also carry Sonia Kasparian’s stunning Urchin Re.Design dresses, which she creates (upcycles?) from old vintage pieces. They’re couture quality, and beaded and decorated by hand, truly works of art.


Then there’s the jewelry – it’s a nice variety ranging from modern silver cuffs to hand-crafted jewelry from local designers to vintage pieces. I tried on a vintage 1920s necklace with amber glass stones, and the modern statement necklace above by Kiowa Rose that incorporates old findings and stones.

My recent visit was a gift buying foray so I’m not going to reveal what I bought just yet. The store is great fun to wander through – if you’re near Powell’s, it’s just a few blocks away. Right now they have some interesting Christmas ornaments – scarabs, birds, and Chinese lamps. You can always find something curious to look at – the oddest is the stuffed peacock but the resin raccoon skull is a close second.

Eden Door crop

Eden: A Garden of Opulent Curiosities
221 Northwest 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

Photo Practice and Guessing Game

I’ve been trying to perfect my technique in taking close ups of rhinestone jewelry and am pleased with my latest practice shoot. I used a white background and indirect lighting, which made a huge difference.

Art deco piece – can you guess what this is?


Shoe clips – I would guess from 1930s or 1940s


Bracelet with confetti rhinestones – probably from the 1950s

Sparkle Plenty

My latest finds were at an estate sale in the neighborhood this weekend. The jewelry collection was small but fun to look at – there was a large collection of animal figurals, a few old charm bracelets, a couple of huge CZ rings, and some neat old lipstick cases.

The first treasure I found was this pot metal brooch with pave marcasites. I spotted it in the case and asked if it were a Duette or pin that comes apart to make two clips but the salesperson said she didn’t this so. Once I bought it and felt comfortable tugging on the parts, I saw that it was, indeed, a convertible brooch. It converts from a pin to two dress clips when removed from the mechanism that holds them all together. I wrote collect dress clips and shoes clips, so I was very pleased to find this. It has a little jeweler’s mark, an arrow with two perpendicular lines going through it, but I couldn’t find out who made it. I think it’s from the 1930s or early 1940s.
Double brooch

Double brooch split

Double brooch split 3

The next thing I looked at were these cute plastic earrings – I don’t know if they are lucite or Bakelite but the color combination is wonderful – amber-colored plastic with green and clear rhinestones. Plastic earrings with green and clear rhinestones I would guess these were made in the 1930s or 40s.

I’m not usually drawn to figurals because they’re too cutesy but the color of this little purple cat was wonderful – the rhinestones are aurora borealis violet and they’re set on japanned pot metal. A rhinestone is missing but that makes him even more special (and such a deal!!) Purple pave cat 1960s, maybe?

An aside – I don’t remember much about Sparkle Plenty in the Dick Tracy comics; what I do remember are the really neat gadgets he had, and his very cool hat.

Photo Practice- Three Dimensional Jewelry

I got out my camera today to practice taking photographs of jewelry, and choose a few pieces from my collection to highlight.

The first selection is a pot metal dress clip and pair of screw-back earrings with light aqua celluloid flowers. They look like they’re from the 1930s. These were challenging to photograph because of the uneven color of the metal, and the shape of the earrings. They aren’t flat, so I had to prop them up a little bit. The worn metal makes it hard to capture the delicacy of the design but I think this turned out pretty well.

My second selection was an ornate rhinestone shoe clip that has clear rhinestones, rhodium metal, and lots of dimension to it. It was a struggle to get the right amount of light – too little, and the rhinestones look dull, but too much, and the reflection is distracting. I first tried to photograph it flat but the results were terrible. I then put the clip on a shoe, as it’d actually be worn. The challenge was to get the whole clip in the photo but I realized a side view gives a slightly better idea of what it looks like. My challenge is try again with the shoe clip and maybe use a filter over the light source to make it less sparkly. I’d like to show the pair but that really didn’t work so well – I just couldn’t get them both in focus at the same time. Back to the drawing board!