April 19, 2010

A Colorful Celebration

There's nothing that gives me more pleasure than designing jewelry and seeing smiles on the faces of happy, fashion savvy women when they put on one of my bold, bright necklaces or shoulder-grazing stiletto earrings.  It's a pleasure and a privilege.  It's what gets me up every morning.  So as I entered this, my 10th year of creative bliss, I wanted to design a collection of Summer jewelry that is truly my aesthetic - chunky, color-filled pieces (like the Flower Garden Necklace, above left) that make more than a statement. They scream "Hey, I'm here!"  Reaching into my overflowing bead drawers and pulling out strand after strand of gorgeous gemstones, cloisonne, crystals and meshing them with porcelain, lucite and wood with sprinklings of precious metals was like being in my own brilliant, fanciful candy store every day. Designer ecstasy at its best.

I'm pleased to announce that select items will be available online at The Shop at JulRe Designs beginning April 26, 2010 but if you are in the New York City area,  join me and see the entire Summer collection as I celebrate a decade of my company, JulRe Designs at my Launch Party and Trunk Show.  Click here for event details.

April 12, 2010

Meditation Schmeditation

Eyes closed, legs crossed into contorted pretzels, chanting spiritual verses until my mind numbs had not been my ideal state of being.  Endlessly repeating mantras or intensely focusing on inanimate objects with palms in prayer position was an undesirable way of finding nirvana.  I wanted to truly master the art of meditation but I could never get beyond the uncomfortable stillness of the practice.  My mind was never quiet.  Literally.  I was always thinking about at least 3 things at a time and it is for that very chaotic reason that I sought some sort of solitary, peaceful practice that would help turn down the volume on my everyday existence.

Wikipedia says "Meditation is a holistic discipline by which the practitioner attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness."  Yes! That's what I wanted!  I didn't believe any book, DVD or lesson could actually teach you how to achieve it.  Let's face it - it is a practice that requires some traits I sometimes have difficulty with:  dedication and extreme focus.  After reading the popular novel Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and identifying with some of the struggle she described having with hitting the mute button on life during her studies in India, I realized that perhaps my difficulties with meditation didn't lie in the superficial, half-hearted attempts I was making so much as from the lack of identifying the real reason why I felt I needed to meditate.  As we all search for a sense of peace in this crazy world, it's obvious our coping mechanisms will differ.  After a lot of soul searching, I came to understand that while I craved a quieter life, my actions said otherwise.  I fed into the whole "rapid pace of the city" thing by over-scheduling myself, taking on more projects that I could realistically handle, saying yes when I should say no.  Once I came to terms with my self-sabotage and consciously made an effort to live a more peaceful existence, meditation became much easier and more effective.  Now, without my daily practice, things start to spiral.  With it, I'm more productive, centered and balanced.  Meditation is not a panacea. It's not the answer to all of life's trials and tribulations.  It definitely isn't right for everyone but for me, its a sensible, sane, richly rewarding practice in my quest to continue to live a happy life. Om.

April 5, 2010

Writing Gems

I've been writing the great American love story.  I took advantage of a perfect opportunity to dust off the cobwebs on it while I was in a relaxed state this past holiday weekend.  I don't talk about it too much and when I do, those that know me scratch their heads and wonder if I've taken that final leap into insanity. They make not so subtle comments about my life already being filled with uncontrolled levels of complexity and then offer backhanded support like "if anyone can do it, it's you". The fact is I've been writing this book off and on for 8 years, trying to fulfill a childhood dream. Without giving away too much of the premise, it's a fictional tale about two people who meet through the infatuation a mutual friend has for one of them. And of course jewelry plays a huge role in how all of the characters connect. Here's the thing. In this case, writers block is not my issue. For a change, procrastination is not my excuse. It's not really a lack of time or any of the common excuses one gives for not completing a project. It's my unnatural obsession with making sure the locations, the scents, the surroundings I write about are factual. I've been drawing on so many resources: the Internet, encyclopedias, conversations with residents of Chicago, IL (where the story takes place). I'm hopelessly lost in the research! The one source I've called upon time and again to expand my knowledge of jewelry and gemstone lore is the book Jewels, A Secret History by Victoria Finlay.  I made a humongous mistake.

The rich, impassioned stories that Ms. Finlay so eloquently tells about those "sparkly trinkets" we ogle in Tiffany's or drool over on the glossy pages of Vogue are fascinating. From Cleopatra's Emerald mines to the scientific factoid that Peridot sometimes falls from the sky, this book is filled with alluring legends and written in such a compelling manner that the historical facts actually captivate and do not bore you to tears. In my humble opinion, this book should be in the library of every aspiring and established jewelry designer. It will help artists speak about their craft from an uncommon and rather glamorous perspective. Fashion buffs will absolutely love it too for its understanding of how gemstones have influenced trends throughout history.  The book will also serve another purpose.  Someday, perhaps it will help me move my novel off of my computer and into the land of full-blown realities.  That is if I can ever detach myself from the details long enough to actually write it.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

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