Posts Tagged ‘jewelry’


I was cleaning up and found a bracelet I made many years ago. A fun, colorful find on a rather gray day as we await the snow in New England. Be safe. Have fun! 🙂

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new cuff bracelet available at the shop at Trinity Church

The it I’m referring to is my creative process.  I was (and still am) one of those children who’d get caught staring off into the distance most often through a window. When asked what I was looking at or for, I could never really say. It wasn’t so much that I was seeking as waiting. At some point, not always, but sometimes, something would crystallize and I would see what I had not before. And its those little finds that I try to highlight in my photography or expand upon in my writing. The same sensibility holds true in the design work I now do.


For years I’ve had the pleasure of walking past this window at Trinity Church, staring through clear panes, admiring how the light shines through the decorative glass and temporarily paints the floor inside. When surrounded by so many other rich architectural details as one is at Trinity Church, I began to take this lovely but comparably simple window for granted.DSCN7868

But one day I took respite by the window. I leaned against the staircase and simply stared outside.  Then, I don’t really know why except perhaps because the light dramatically changed in some way, I began to look at the window itself, as a whole composed of an assortment of geometric parts and that’s when I saw it. Or it found me. A pattern to play with or in this case to recreate using GIMP.


The “new” pattern that evolved can so far be found on a cuff bracelet, pencil pouch and pen, all available exclusively at the shop at Trinity Church. https://www.facebook.com/TrinityBostonShop/




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I’m pleased to share that two new cuff bracelets are available in the gift shop at Trinity Church in Copley Square. The designs are derived from the decorative and architectural features of that beautiful building, in this case the hand stenciled golden walls of the chancel and the stained glass window, The New Jerusalem, by John La Farge. Speaking of which … returning soon will be the silk scarf also featuring that bright blue design.


The shop is open Tuesday – Sunday. Learn more about location/direction on the church website: http://trinitychurchboston.org/

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One is missing an antennae and the other a few stones. Two pins, one a gift from an antique store and the other a found object. Little winged creatures I occasionally use to dress up my scarves.

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That’s the translation of the little slip of paper on the back of the butterfly, Plique a jour. An enameling technique similar to cloisonne but with no backing so that the light can shine through. It’s meant to be worn as a pin but I might turn it into an occasional suncatcher. A wonderful find in an old shop. A dainty little thing, bits of damage, an antennae missing. Still beautiful. And as much as the design, I like that idea of letting in daylight at any time of day.

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Nancy Li, owner of TAO Select Image courtesy of artist.

Nancy Li of TAO Selection
Image courtesy of artist.

Believe it or not, porcelain had been on my mind just before my chance encounter with Nancy Li of TAO Selection.  I had come across a review of Edmund de Waal’s new book, The White Road.  A noted potter, the book chronicles de Waal’s “journey into an obsession” to learn more about the origins and reinvention of porcelain.  The prologue opens with de Waal in China: “I’m trying to cross a road in Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province, the city of porcelain, the fabled Ur where it all starts …” Nancy Li is quick to tell you, and rightfully so, her family is from this region of China and that she is a third generation designer of porcelain.

Image courtesy of artist.

As I later told her, what I most admired about our first brief encounter outside of a church gift shop was her determination to find venues to market her jewelry, and also to share the story of her family and cultural heritage of working with porcelain. In his book de Waal writes of working with porcelain clay to make a jar. Though his studio is in South London, he writes, “… as I make this jar I’m in China. Porcelain is China. Porcelain is the journey to China.” During an interview, Nancy Li made a similar statement.

Image courtesy of artist.

We met briefly in Cambridge during her lunch break.  Again, with great passion, she began sharing the story of her family especially of her grandfather, a porcelain master.  For three generations the family and 15-20 employees have been working with clay using a proprietary process, molding it in forms from pendants to bowls to large statuary, hand-glazing and then firing the pieces in her family’s kiln.  I’ve always thought of porcelain as fragile but porcelain can be strong as Nancy demonstrated by dropping a lovely blue and white bracelet on the floor. It made a beautiful ringing sound and remained unbroken.

On her website, Nancy describes attending the top fashion school in China, Donghua University.  In talking with her I learned that six years ago she moved to the U.S. where she also received a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from Boston University and a Management Degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management, part of her dual efforts to better understand the science behind porcelain and to raise awareness globally about the family business and the high-quality of the artwork produced.

Image courtesy of artist.

On top of her full-time job as a Systems Engineer, Nancy makes time to interact with people around Boston, educating them about porcelain and obtaining feedback about peoples’ fashion interests.   She shares the feedback with her family, including producing sketches for alterations and new designs, inspired by what she hears and by her own artistic background.

She describes wanting to help people understand that high-quality porcelain is not only for the wealthy.  It is not only something from the past to be found in antique stores.  It is contemporary and it is art, an art that represents a culture.  “Each piece of art has a story behind it,” she says at one point, holding a necklace in her hand.  “It is art that inspires, that’s meant to be shown and shared. I think Americans have a wrong impression that everything made in China is cheap quality. What my family does in its local community, what it has been doing for so long, is of the highest quality and I want to share that work, our work, and help it evolve.”

Following are links to learn more about and connect with designer Nancy Li and to view more of her wearable porcelain art.

TAO Selection Etsy Shop

TAO Selection Website

Following are links to learn more about artist and writer Edmund de Waal and his passion for porcelain.


The White Road

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Once upon a time, I made jewelry.  It was a hobby to give my hands something to do when I wasn’t writing and my eyes something to concentrate on when I wasn’t watching television.

I was simply following in the footsteps of my friends who did much more elaborate, skilled, and exquisite work.  I admired their craftsmanship and eyes for design while I mostly played around with colors and textures.

Up to a certain point I could be disciplined enough to complete a piece but then more and more pieces remained unfinished.  That’s when I realized mostly what I wanted to do was experiment with placement of beads and unique baubles.

I still have the tools to make jewelry, at least my simple kind.  I have not tried in years. These pieces, and many more, I found in an old jewelry box as I was trying to do some early Spring cleaning.

Some pieces I may keep to wear while others will most certainly continue to be used as photographic inspiration.  As for individual beads and baubles, still unstrung, I may share some of those with a young friend still quite fascinated by the colors of the rainbow and how to hold bits of it in your hands.

And once there has been some space cleared in that jewelry box, perhaps I’ll try my hand at creating some new pieces. Or at least I can dream. 😉

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Jen Parrish gave me permission to visit her online sites to select images to use as illustration for her interview responses.  As I did with other interviewees in 2012, I asked Jen to share how music inspires her artwork.  Viewing her artwork inspired me.   I had only to see an item described as “Gothic architecture meets nature” to know how appropos it was that she and I met through an art and architecture department in a Romanesque church.

She is an elegant, soft-spoken woman with a piercing gaze and gentle words.  It took me a while to learn that she is also a renowned jewelry designer whose handcrafted pieces are worn by celebrities and other people around the world.  Without ever having seen Jen work firsthand, I have only to listen as she speaks about her work to feel her dedication to beauty.  I expect everyone who purchases one of her unique pieces must know they carry part of Jen, and more than a bit of world history, with them.  I am very grateful she responded to my questions.   Please read her interview here.  I think you’ll find both the words and images quite interesting.

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