Tag Archives: New York

1950s Lucite Purses

One of the nice things about travelling with my parents is that we meet lots of people. I tend to “mind my own business” when I go out; for my parents, everyone’s a friend they haven’t met yet. Even in the Big Apple, they proved amazing people are around every corner. We met cabbies, waiters, artisans, shop keepers, designers, restaurateurs and celebrities.

So it was no surprise that while I popped into a pet supply store in SoHo, my parents were making friends with a shop keeper across the street. We were treated to a history lesson and tour of mid-century American style. Deco Jewels is an antique specialty shop dedicated primarily to vintage Lucite handbags. This tiny store boasts the world’s largest collection. The owner even wrote a book about it!

purse from the book

Carry Me

Lucite, sometimes called acrylic glass, is a modern-era material. It was first used for windshields and submarine turrets in WWII. Designers started working with it because unlike other types of plastic, it doesn’t yellow over time. You might have seen iconic clear Lucite tables and chairs. Lucite can be tinted too and is a great vegan alternative to tortoiseshell and mother of pearl.

lucite bags

Many were embellished with glitter and metal clasps.

gilttery purses

These two were made to look like caramel squares.

caramel purses

Holding a Lucite bag made me want to change into a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, and kitten heels.

Jean and purse

mom and purse

black lucite purse

The boxy nature of the handbags made adding secret compartments an option. This one came with its own lipstick and powder!

purse with makeup compartment

From Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy, high-profile, fashion-minded women in the 50s carried Lucite purses. By the mid-60s, fashions started to change. A proper, ladylike look was replaced with a relaxed, boho vibe. Despite not being a common purse today, people still collect Lucite bags. They’re museum-worthy, but they’d make a great fashion statement.

lucite on the shelves

The handbags range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. In addition to Lucite, Deco Jewels carries vintage earrings, necklaces, cufflinks and other American goodies from the mid-20th century.

more lucite

The store is small, but not cluttered. And despite its size, you’ll find yourself enthralled for a long time.

rows of lucite

If you’re ever in New York, pop by Deco Jewels at 131 Thomson Street (btwn Houston & Prince).

15 Comments

Filed under Art, Fashion, Technology, Travel

Interview with Jacquie Bird of SilkWire Jewelry

On my very first day in New York, I serendipitously met Jacquie Bird, the owner/creator of SilkWire Jewelry. Jacquie is a radiant woman who will draw you in with her smile. I brought my parents over to the booth she was running at a flea market in Harlem, just around the corner from where we were staying.

Jean, Jacquie and Carmen

I bought a ring from Jacquie that day (it’s been on this blog once already) and wanted to learn more about her and her business. She accepted my request for an interview, and here it is:

How did you get started as a jewelry designer?

It actually flowed out of an idea I had for hair accessories for locs. Didn’t have the energy or push to see it through at the time so I ditched that idea but had all this inventory. What to do with it? In a few days an idea was fully realized in my head, I just had to figure out how to do it, what was my voice? I had always worked with my hands from childhood and have worked jewelry in periods throughout my life but along the way in looking for my next passion, (I had a career as a dancer-singer-actress who worked on Broadway and the stage with a few trysts on TV and film in my first life) I was taken aback when I found it was creating JewelryArt.

ring

What are the biggest challenges of working in such a creative field?

There are ten baZILLION jewelry creator/designers out there—how do I get folks to pay attention to what I do, to hear what I have to say through my JewelryArt? When your stuff is a bit off kilter, it is a huge challenge to hold your ground in the field; when your prices are a bit higher because you are firm in what it is you do and offer, staying true to self comes into question a LOT. There is a spiritual aspect to what I create, it isn’t just about jewelry. Gemstones, Crystals and Copper have power and amazing properties, I write about this in A Bird Blogs About Gems using my own experiences and that of others, along with research. Some folks get it, some do not—they just wanna rock the jewelry and that’s ok too. But I know what I’m about and why I do it.

And the biggest challenge? To be patient and to keep the faith that I will find my audience and they will find me. When I can laugh about this part of the journey I think, “well Bird, you danced, sang, and acted for a living, getting discovered as a Jewelry Artist should be a piece of cake just chill, keep on pushin’ and keep your chin up!”

earrings

All your pieces are one-of-a-kind, but is there a certain style or stone that’s popular with your customers?

People dig the rings and the stones they are familiar with like Amethyst, clear Quartz, Moonstone, Rose Quartz and some not quite so familiar stones like Chalcopyrite (because of the rainbow colors and shine), Rhodochrosite, and Pink Tourmaline. Oh, almost forgot Amazonite which is what you have. The Stone of Harmony 🙂

I do value harmony! Can you tell me a bit about the jemstones you use and how they affect wearers?

Some who are aware notice the subtleties; I had one woman tell me she noticed the Moonstone ring she had amplified her moods. One of the properties is that it can amplify moods both positive and negative. But the negative comes out with the intention to show you where you can change it and not act recklessly when you are not your best self. She realized this and when she was feeling crusty and ready to lash out, she would check herself.

A man told me he noticed he was more hyper when he didn’t wear his Rose Quartz and Lepidolite Neckpiece. Now this was someone who was not at all interested when I tried to tell him about the properties of the stones so I stopped in mid-sentence. After about a month of owning the piece he told me his discovery that the stones calmed him down. Lepidolite has Lithium in it and both stones have calming and soothing properties.

necklace

When I visited your booth I had a hard time deciding on a ring. You told me to go with the one that first caught my eye. I did and it was a good decision. Do you make decisions based on what initially attracts you to something?

Tee hee I LOVE to hear that! And yes, I do ultimately remind myself to go with my first instinct whenever I find myself in the deluge of “what to buy, which one oh my oh my OH MY????!!!!!” When I don’t do that, I always end up asking, “now why didn’t you listen, you know better??!!” Lolol!

What do you have planned next? Anything you’d like to share with readers?

I am planning to get my jewelry on someone like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Aire, Esperanza Spaulding, Drew Barrymore, et. al.  And also on TV shows and film—the gemstones would really sing on a show like American Horror Story, Coven. So if there’s anybody out there that can help me do that, contact me please! 🙂

In all seriousness, one of my missions is to let folks know there are many natural ways to healing, peace, energy and balance; that working with gemstones, crystals and copper are gifts of Mother Nature that have power and can assist us greatly. They are made up of the same things we are and they took millions of years to cook. We place value on the foods we eat but lump these beauties into “oh they’re just rocks! Oh it’s just copper and it tarnishes!”

My copper JewelryArt is easily cleaned by dropping it in lemon juice or vinegar. And our body needs copper, which it doesn’t produce therefore we must get it from our diets and wearing it also helps. And “rocks” are energy which vibrate on frequencies. Just like everything else in our Universe. It’s ALL energy and vibes.

Thank you, Jacquie!

You can learn more Jacquie’s work in several places:

Jacquie Bird

11 Comments

Filed under Art, Crafts, Fashion