A Gem in Midtown

I love happy accidents. I take delight in stumbling across a discovery that I may never have found had it not been for one small change that takes me out of my normal routine. Today, I found world of beauty, housed in an unassuming building on a nondescript corner in Midtown.

I drove to work as usual at the Hacker Lab (a little later than usual, actually), and was met with the more frequently occurring issue of lack of parking. Instead of my usual routine of playing the parking game where I move my car to a new spot every two hours and hope I don’t find a ticket waiting for me when I forget, I decided to park on F Street at 19th, where besides the street cleaning period on Wednesdays, parking is unrestricted. I figured I could use the walk, and it would be nice not to interrupt my day with short frantic drives around the block.  I found a spot on F, grabbed my things and started walking, but before I reached the corner I paused. The large sign proclaiming BOOKS I had read as I drove toward my parking spot was notable but not enough to give me pause; it was only upon a closer view and reading a smaller sign labeled “Art Books” that I was compelled to take a detour. The sign on the door directed me to ring the bell for entry. A few seconds later an older gentleman with horn-rimmed glasses and a white beard opened the door and let me in. I stepped over the threshold and was immediately enthralled. It was like a perfectly staged movie set of the quintessential independent bookstore: wall-to-wall books, vintage lamp fixtures, oriental rugs, paintings and sculptures propped upon and against shelves of BOOKS! The picture was made complete by a fat cat lounging on the rug next to the store owner’s antique desk. 

Richard, of Richard L. Press Fine & Scholarly Books on the Arts, showed me around the shop, pointing out each area where books on almost every art discipline were clustered: painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, textiles, fashion, street art, and yes, jewelry. He pointed out the shelves that held books on African and Asian art, and showed me art works by local and well established artists. He shared with me a little of his history, of selling books in Sacramento for 35 years — 8 years in this location, which was previously a hardware store and before that and egg processing center. My attention was riveted and my passion for creativity and learning was piqued; all I wanted to do was curl up on one of the chaises with whichever book was within arm’s reach and dive in headfirst.   
Richard L. Press in his art-tastic shop
Yet there was one book that caught my eye almost immediately upon entering the store: a thick tome called Art Deco Jewelry by Sylvie Raulet. The cover sported an image of a statement necklace of metal, wood, and gemstone that was much an art piece as it was a fashion accessory, and played to  my love of combining textures and shapes. I made a beeline for it and decided to make it a part of my independent study — it cost as much as a textbook.  After telling Richard a little about {tula in bloom} and how I design unique jewelry based on reused and repurpose materials, he gave me a gift; a catalog of the jewelry of Margaret De Patta from the 1976 exhibition at The Oakland Museum. With that gift, he sealed the fate of his shop as my new favorite haven. 

This book had me at the cover.
1976 catalog of the Margaret De Patta Retrospective Exhibition at The Oakland Museum. This artist is so my style... <3

I left the bookstore feeling renewed and inspired. Had I not been compelled to avoid a parking ticket I would have missed out on this place. It’s little gems like Richard’s bookstore that make Sacramento special, and little serendipities like this that help keep me motivated in my journey to create a successful jewelry design brand.
Richard L. Press Fine & Scholarly Books on the Arts is located at 1831 F St. STE A, Sacramento, CA 95811. I may be there, curled up on a chaise the next time you visit. 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” {Dr. Seuss}

Custom Jewlery:Redesigned -- Part II

Brass Leaf Bracelet, {tula in bloom}

What I love most about redesigning existing pieces, versus making something completely from scratch, is working within a set of limits, which necessitates creativity. As Dave Gray wrote in his blog, “Creativity is driven by constraints. When we have limited resources -- even when the limits are artificial -- creative thinking is enhanced. That's because the fewer resources you have, the more you are forced to rely on your ingenuity.”

In redesigning Katie’s collection I was constrained by the prefabricated materials and the type of pieces she preferred: earrings, bracelets and rings, with the occasional long necklace. The constraints allowed me to stretch my creative muscle and come up with some really fun ideas and looks. Some of the ideas worked as I imagined; others had to be tweaked to harmonize with the characteristics of the materials (and the law of gravity). I aimed to reuse as many of the pieces as possible, but felt free to add elements from my stock to enhance the pieces.

Redesign #1: Peacock/Leather Bracelet

I knew from the beginning I wanted this necklace pendant to be a bracelet that highlighted its colors and sparkle. I wanted the pendant to lie across the back of hand like a charm. With a leather braiding technique I’ve used in previous designs, I wove dark green dyed leather cord to create the strap and loop through which the pendant would be clasped.

Original necklace 
Green leather cord

Fishtail braid

Peacock/Leather Bracelet

Peacock/Leather Bracelet

Redesign #2: Nature-made Necklace

Again this was a piece that had sprung to mind almost immediately upon seeing the bird earrings and this egg-shaped green stone. I made it long, per Katie’s preference, and added a crossbar of driftwood I found at the beach in Bodega Bay, which I sanded, stained, and drilled to add wire, forming eyehooks. I reused the chain provided in the original collection.
Original pieces

Original piece

Driftwood, treated and drilled

Nature-made Necklace
Nature-made Necklace

Redesign #3: Brass Leaf Bracelet

I loved the chain that came with the peacock necklace, and wanted to incorporate it into a bracelet. I kept the leaf and feather pendant and charm intact from the original piece, which added an asymmetrical dimension and continued the hanging charm theme I began with the Peacock Leather Bracelet. I curved the leaf to fit a wrist, and widened an opening in its perforated surface to use as part of the clasping system and to slightly exaggerate the "decay" of the leaf.

Original piece

Curving the leaf

Brass Leaf Bracelet

Brass Leaf Bracelet

Brass Leaf Bracelet

 Redesign #4: Tiny Blues Drop Earrings

I thought these small light blue stones would be the perfect accent for drop earrings I created by deconstructing a larger pair of earrings a friend had recently donated to me.  I added small brass accent beads and used the ear hooks from Katie’s original bird earrings.

Original pieces

Earrings from stock materials

Tiny Blues Earrings

Redesign #5: Katie’s Keychain

A friend had made a sweet pendant for Katie which she included in her submission, and while it didn’t fit into the other designs I was developing, it did make a lovely keychain, something that she can always carry with her.

Original piece

Katie's Keychain

Redesign #6: Mediterranean Divide Earrings

Katie bought the original earrings in Italy and loved the design and colors; unfortunately one was lost. This is a perfect example of what can be done to still enjoy an earring that is no longer part of a pair.  I cut the piece in half using snips and filed the edges smooth, then used a hole punch for the jump rings once I figured out a design.  This project is also a great example of how an idea must adapt to real world -- or how I had to submit to the laws of gravity. Several design ideas and a final compromise yielded these modern/bohemian little beauties.

Original piece

Sketching ideas
Design idea
Design idea
Visualizing before further alterations
Mediterranean Divide Earrings
Mediterranean Divide Earrings

I may fiddle around with the remaining pieces from the original collection, but as of right now I’m happy with the current redesigned pieces. Even better, Katie is happy with the redesigns! She loved all the pieces I made, especially the Peacock Leather Bracelet. 

If you like the designs shown here and are interested in learning more about custom ordering, email me at omonivie@tulainbloom.com.

Want to see more {tula in bloom} jewelry and design? Head over to my Etsy shop, and sign up for my email newsletter on my Facebook page.

Check out the process from the beginning: Custom Jewelry:Redesigned Part I

“...the prerequisites of creation are playfulness, love, concentration, practice, skill, using the power of limits, using the power of mistakes, risk, surrender, patience, courage and trust.” {Stephen Nachmanovitch, author, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art}

may the flower of your life force bloom.

All drawings and finished designs are subject to copyright.  Copyright © 2014 Omonivie Okhade