Totally out-of-focus pictures. There is a strong possibility my iphone is dying…or in some state of photographic rebellion.
This choker-style necklace is made of vintage mother-of-pearl buckles linked together with copper jump rings and glass beads. I made it in 1997 or ’98 as a sample for shows but I wore it almost constantly for a year.
I also sold a lot of buckle chokers.
That was the year I purchased $22,000 dollars of vintage buckles and buttons from a Elliot Silverstein in Manhattan. He was closing a hundred-year-old family business to retire. His pearl buttons had been made in factories in New Jersey but plastic buttons and the closing of the NYC garment factories had shut him down too.
I bought boxes and boxes of buckles, pearl infant shirt buttons and the teeniest pearl lingerie buttons from the 1920’s.
The infant shirt buttons came packaged in boxes of 5,000 buttons. Creamy old cardboard stamped on one end with the name and address of the Brooklyn box manufacturer. The other end had very tidy old handwriting “5,000 pearl, 8 ligne”
Sometimes I wish I still had some of those boxes.
(a ligne is 1/40th of an inch and is how buttons are measured. Most men’s dress shirt buttons are 25-30 ligne)
This necklace consists of four strands of fine-gauge copper chain attached to a vintage mother-of-pearl tile with a vintage glass leaf cemented to the tile. The chains are all attached to a copper lobster claw clasp (see it there on the left side of the necklace?) that hooks in the front. This design allows the wearer to choose either an 18″ necklace (as shown) or a 36″ necklace.
I thought I invented this idea.
Really, I did think I invented it. Yeah, now, years later I realize that NOTHING is new. Especially in the world of jewelry.
Back then, I thought I hung the moon. Or more accurately, I was SURE that no one had ever done this. It was MY idea. A convertible necklace! Wahoo! Roll up the limo, I invented the convertible necklace.
Then, a year or so later I picked up a 1930’s Life magazine and was perusing the side-bar ads.
There it was, an ad for a necklace that could be worn ‘long or short as the lady desires.’
Damn. They stole my idea. Well, in reverse, time-machine-using meaning of the word ‘stole’ that is.
Now, older and wiser I know that there is not a new idea. There are just new thinkers who refine the old ideas. Okay, ONCE in a GREAT while there may be an actual new idea but that’s super-duper rare.
Beads around the neck? Been done.
Chain wrapped around the wrist? Check.
Fancy stuff on the earlobes? Yep.
Now this could be thought of as disheartening, but I don’t see it that way at all. I don’t make jewelry to impress YOU or to make you say ‘Wow, she really did something amazing!’ I make jewelry because I enjoy the making process* and I enjoy keeping myself busy with tiny things, sparkly things, shiny little things. It keeps me off the streets and connects me with a primal human urge to decorate myself and others. Plus did I mention the shiny?
The other chief benefit of this mindset is that I am not at all disturbed** by anyone who copycats or get’s inspired by my work. I can’t be. First, because I make a good portion of my living as a craft writer and seller of sparkly, shiny things but also because I don’t get caught up in the idea that I am my ideas.
Let me repeat that; I am not my ideas.
I am me, I have ideas.
My ideas spin off into the world and then perhaps you have them or perhaps someone else has them and changes them and moves them into a different (but not totally new) direction. That’s okay. I’m fine with it.
*Remember, I am the person who can wear a different necklace every day for a year…or at least thinks she can!
**or, more accurately, I am a person who can talk herself down from being disturbed pretty quickly…