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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Here's to January!

A sneak preview of the January pendants in the making from the beautiful collection of Limoges china plates. The January calendar scene from The Very Rich Hours of Duke of Berry shows a festive atmosphere at the table of the good duke himself.







The limited edition of finished pendants will be available for purchase in the first days of January at www.anakit.etsy.com and www.artfire.com/users/anakit

As the Curtain Falls on 2010


The year is soon wrapping up. Time for a balance sheet. It seems that 2010 was a tumultuous year for many. For me it started off not so great, missing a career opportunity and breaking up a relationship, but then as the sun started to warm up, things turned for the better and opportunities started to pile up.
I ran my first 20k race and finished in very decent time of 2 hours and a few seconds. I started making my own jewelry. I spent two months in Berlin learning German. I took up learning Croatian. I had the good fortune of visiting the Big Apple for the very first time. All the while being surrounded by wonderful people who really care.
Looking back, the grievances and disappointment from the start of the year seem so far away. I am ready for the new year and new challenges. I don't expect them to be easy, but I will enjoy the ride.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Very Rich Hours of Duke of Berry or the Middle Ages on a Plate

When I studied French at the University, we had a very good literature professor. He managed to make medieval lit not only interesting, but exciting as well. I remember devouring the Arthurian legends by Cretien de Troyes and laughing to the simple-minded Maitre Pathelin. Turns out, the Dark Ages weren't so dark after all, in fact they were full of color and gold. Of course religion still played a pivotal role in everyday life, but people still knew how to go about their daily business of life, love and lust.

Books, whether lithurgical or the newly invented novels, offered just about the only escape from the daily chores. They were little treasures that those fortunate enough to possess, cherished. No wonder they were in the habit of carefully decorating the texts with beautiful images, called illuminations.

The mother of all illuminated books is definitely the national treasure of France - the Duke of Berry's book of hours.

The Very Rich Hours of Duke of Berry (Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry) is nowadays kept at the Conde Museum in Chantilly, France. It was made for the Duke of Berry, a patron of arts, and contains prayers and texts for every hour of the day (hence the name). As a book of hours of an important nobleman - brother to the King of France - the manuscript was richly adorned with images and illuminations. The most famous part of the manuscript is a beautifully painted calendar, depicting scenes from everyday life in the Middle Ages throughout the year. The months were painted by the two talented Limbourg brothers.



January

The images are famous for their incredible blue color, made from crushed lapis lazuli.

February
 The richly painted scenes have inspired many artists since their creation around 1412-1416. In the 1980's the famous French china makers from Limoges decided to recreate the whole calendar as handpainted commemmorative plates.

By chance I came across a plate with the month of November. The Limbourg brothers had died too soon, so that particular month had been finished by Jean Colombe.
With my new-found passion for destroying collectable vintage china, I couldn't wait to cut into this one.

Althought beautifully executed, a plate like this would never find a place on my wall or table. But it could hang beautifully around someone's neck instead.

After a long process of cutting, smoothing and drilling, the end result was three unusual and unique pendants, set in silver wire.

It took a bit of research, but I managed to procure copies of the whole calendar and to my delight I could place the pendants on top of the paper image like pieces in a puzzle.

Double Pendant $54
Autumn Porcelain Pendant $39

Foliage Porcelain Pendant $39

These pendants would make great gifts for those who either have a birthday or another important date in November.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

MISS CONGENIALITY

People, that is friends, always ask me what I sell most of. That's not an easy question, because most of my jewelry are one of a kind pieces, so I can only sell one piece and that's it. Of course there are trends, people seem fond of my chunky copper gemstone  necklaces, turquoise and silver also seem to be a winning combination. Still for me it's very easy to define what sells most. Exactly this:

the quintessential golden bracelet

This favourite bracelet came into existence for one simple reason - vanity! Especially during the summer months I like the glow of gold jewelry. But I was lacking a nice statement bracelet to wear on my tanned wrist. I didn't want anything too chunky, because it makes my wrist looks thick, but I did want something larger than life. This was the result. As soon as a put one in my shop, I had to keep making more, because they were selling like hot cakes. One of my best friends recently panicked when she heard I had sold one again. She had had her eye on it for a while and wants me to make her a new one.
Sooner rather than later some of the vintage components in this piece will run out and that will be the end of this story.
I wonder though what is it that makes this bracelet special that it's so popular despite the not-so-perfect photo. Perhaps its the soft glow of the gold color or the luxurious feeling of a draped chain on your wrist or is it something else? Something as simple as itself.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

There Is Nothing New Except What Has Been Forgotten

Marie Antoinette.

I guess she wasn't as flaky as people think. For the Marie-Antoinette Etsy European Street Team challenge on Loddelina's blog I took something that has been forgotten and made it anew.

I found a vintage Limoges plate depicting romantic courtship scenes by the famous Fragonard and I cut out its heart. It took a lot of work but by the end I had a beautiful round pendant with a picture of sweet 17th century lady in a luxurious dress, surrounded by flower blossoms.

I recently found some great cloisonne enamel beads in sweet blue and pink colors, which I incorporated in the design with some baroque shaped faux pearls.







The result is a sweet girly Marie-Antoinette necklace.



Sweet Marie Antoinette Necklace at http://www.anakit.etsy.com/


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Etsy Expats: Berlin via Brussels

Etsy Expats: Berlin via Brussels: "by anakit
I don’t usually condone my fellow expats in Brussels complaining about everything Belgian. Sure the weather is unstable, but hey..."

Diamond Drills Are a Girl's Best Friend

I had this insane idea of combining my love of jewelry with my passion for beautiful vintage china. I've been making the former with a passion for a while now and recently I have again started accumulating vast amounts of old porcelain and bone china, simply because I loved the desing and the intricate handpainted details.

One thing led to another and I got myself a Dremel. A Dremel is a high-speed rotating tool used for carving, sanding or drilling. However porcelain and bone china are among the hardest materials around. So your regular drillbits simply won't do. You need diamond-clad bits, because diamonds are the hardest substence on Earth. So I got some.

The first opportunity to try everything out came yesterday. I had recently bought a truly stunning Alka Bavaria collector's set of a teacup, saucer and sandwich plate. The shade of grey-blue was poetic and the intricate gold detail was handpainted with real gold. Unfortunately it arrived broken. The only surviving piece was the plate. The teacup lost a handle and the saucer was broken into several pieces.

I picked out a few pieces that still had the beautiful pattern and similar shapes. I started drilling.

To drill porcelain is very tricky, because although very hard, it's also very fragile. It can easily break under too much pressure or if it gets too hot. The friction between the drillbit and the material causes heat. That's where lubrication steps in! I took a large baking pan, padded it with a thick cork mat, poured water over it, so the porcelain piece was submerged in it, as was the tip of the drill.

video
And then you start. It takes forever to drill a tiny tiny hole only a few milimetres deep. And that's not all, after you've finally pierced through all the holes you need, you still need to sand every piece. As china breaks, the edges are very sharp. You need to lovingly sand every edge so it's completely smooth. Again I did this using my new diamond drill.

Once you have what you need, you can incorporate it in the final jewelry piece.
Broken China Girl Necklace
One of a kind porcelain earrings

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vintage or Modern?

Real jewellery lasts for ever. The really beautiful pieces go beyond fashion. Don't you have a favourite that you wear time and time again? Or you let it rest for a few years and then rediscover it in your treasure chest? It happened to me recently when I pulled out a nice ivory cusp my dad brought back from India when I was 10! To be more specific (but not too specific!) that places it back to mid-eighties. A vintage piece so to speak and still looks great. The only difference is that back then I was able to spin it around my wrist despite its oval shape and now it just sits nice and snug on it.
I have always had a love affair with jewellery. Already as a kid I would dream of being a queen clad in huge saphires or rubies. Through the years I have accumulated an impressive collection of everything. Still the fashion has never been so much to my taste as this year. Bold, fifities, seventies, eighties styles suit me well. Only a few years back I would look ridiculous, but now I can pull off a Cleopatra, a Tzarina or a Jackie O without batting an eyelid.
In the last six months I have tapped into the world's richest resource - EBay. It's great for those unique vintage pieces that nobody has. You want a bib collar? Your wish be done. Just type in vintage bib collar, add color or metal of choice and happy shopping. You can get some really amazing bargains for nothing. I've bought chunky rings that everyone notices, even men! for less than 10 dollars. Things that used to belong to society ladies are now often up for grabs.
Another great forum and undiscovered source of great vintage jewellery is http://www.etsy.com/ It's not as popular as EBay yet, so the choice is smaller, but so are the prices. A great piece of vintage jewellery is unique, beautiful and well-made. Otherwise it's just old. The perfect fashion statement is when you wear a mix of vintage and modern, so as not to look like you've stepped out of a dusty magazine.
A great bib collar necklace will work best with sleek modern clothes. You can even wear it to spruce up a jeans and top outfit. You can choose between metals or plastic. Gold tones are especially cool this summer. The plastic of old used in vintage jewellery is lucite. It comes in different colors and shapes, it can simulate sparkly crystals or it can be found in popular ice-cream hues.

If you like being expressive with you jewellery then vintage is the way to go. The best thing about it, you won't break the bank. Although some pieces can be collector's items and if you have the misfortune of having excellent taste, so you might find yourself bidding against other fashionistas or jewelry dealers. Still the choice is so vast, you'll be damned if you don't find a steal.

In the Beginning Was the Word

Well, well, well. Here we are. I never thought I would want to advertize things to the world, but there's a saying that every man in his lifetime should plant a tree, conceive a child and write a book. Well, I'm not a man, I haven't reproduced yet and all I've been planting is a few terrace pot plants. So that leaves me to write a book. Hmm. I love literature and I just love imagining myself typing away at some New England retreat, however I also like to stay down to Earth. A blog will do for now, and if it reaches many, that will be better than a book.

So what will you find here? Anything on life, love, fashion and jewellery. It's basically what we women revolve around. Good luck to us all!