Everything has a history. Though roses have been cultivated and displayed in China for more than 1,000 years, the popularized Rose Garden has it's origin's in the garden's of Napoleon's Joséphine. Joséphine de Beauharnais.
Born in 1763 on the Island of Martinique, Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, and known as Rose until Napoleon insisted on calling her Joséphine. The portrait shown below was painted on the inside of an 18k gold snuff box by the Imperial goldsmith, circa 1810.
While Napoleon was off in Egypt in 1799, Joséphine bought a chateau at Malmaison and had the garden designed in the English style. Taking great interest in the captivatingly fragrant thorny plants, Joséphine brought talented gardeners and scores of rose plants to her chateau. Seeking to aquire every known rose, she enlisted the help of her powerful husband, who had all seized vessels searched for specimens, which were imported back to France.
The magnificent blooms of the Empress' garden were recorded between 1817 and 1820 in the Les Roses by artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté. You can see them online at the New York Public Library. Upon her death in 1814, Joséphine had collected more than 250 varieties of roses and her plant scouts had introduced another 200 plants to France, including the ever-popular dahlia.
See our Victorian Rose Button Pendant to wear a piece of this history!
Read more about Josephine in this New York Times Article
The 1893 Columbian Exposition, known as the Chicago World's Fair is known as a turning point in American History. Many products and innovations and products ushered in a new era of modernity in the United States. Among the wonders introduced at the 1893 Chicago Exposition are the ferris wheel, the zipper, Cream of Wheat, Cracker Jacks, electric elevators, and unfortunately the electric chair. The Fair also allowed attendees a first glance at Edison's kinetoscope and a listen to the world's first voice recording.
Check out our 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair Keepsake Necklace made from a souvenir watch case opener.
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In a world of instantaneous modern correspondence, I think we've forgotten the value of the post. These lines of communication - kept open by letter carriers on foot, horse and later train, plane and automobile - were started in colonial America as far back as 1692. The original logo shows a letter carrier on horseback, doubtless delivering something of vital importance!
The US Mail traces it's roots back to the Second Continental Congress with Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin. The first postage stamps, which was not introduced until 1847 featured Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
The invention of parcel post brought a world of goods and services to rural America, making way for the mail order business. In 1914, after 4 year old Charlotte May Pierstorff was mailed from her parents to her grandparents in Idaho, mailing of persons was prohibited. While the train fare was the equivalent of a day's pay, the postal rate for a 49 pound parcel was 53 cents. The box was labeled as a baby chick, though the wee girl just rode with the box in the mail car and was delivered by hand to her grandparents home by letter carrier Leonard Mochel. You can read more about her story in the 1997 children's book, Mailing May. Please note, the photo below is NOT of May and Mr. Mochel, but isn't it perfect!
I love our postman. We send and receive packages all the time - usually tiny ones. Our post man is a big part of my life. His name is Steve. My desk faces the street over the front garden and I see the comings and goings of the neighborhood. I noticed when he was gone. First, for a few days, then it stretched into weeks. Johnny and I have become attuned to the hum of the post man's jeep coming down the street. Weeks passed. Then one day, Johnny called me to let me know he'd spotted
Steve coming down the street. I grabbed the baby and ran out to the street and basically flung myself into his arms. Turns out he'd been terribly ill and hospitalized for a month. I joked with Jerry that I needed him to tell me when he retired. "Retire?" he exclaimed, "I've got 17 years left until my 50 year pin and I want to see your kid graduate high school." These types of community connections can make the world feel like an intimate and knowable place.
Check out designs made with historic vintage post office buttons:
Have you heard of a Wunderkammer? A Cabinet of Curiosities? These delightful and quirky collections have their roots in the 17th century. In 1611, an English naturalist and head gardener to the 1st Earl of Salisbury, John Tradescant, was sent to the low countries to collect fruit tree specimens. In 1618, he travelled to the Nikolo-Korelsky Monestary in Arctic Russia, and to the Algiers and the Levant in the 1620s, returning to the Low Countries - this time on behalf of the Duke of Bukingham. He passed through Paris, went to the Île de Ré off the coast of France. Upon his return to England, we has hired as the Keeper of his Majesty's Gardens, Vines and Silkworms at the queens palace in Surrey in 1630.
On all of his excursions, Tradescant collected natural specimens and curiosities of all sorts, which he housed in an "Ark" in London. He also accumulated objects from the new world through his friend John Smith, explorer and leader of the Virginia Colony. His collection of strange artifacts became the first museum open to the public in England, known was the Musaeum Tradescantianum, and the archetype for the Cabinet of Curiosities. Another famous collection, that of Danish physician and antiquary, Ole Worm, is shown below.
Another great collector was John Bargrave, who traveled between 1646 and 1660 throughout the European continent - mostly in France, Rome and Naples. collecting oddities and knick knacks. Here is a fantastic illustration from his travel diary. He was later made a canon of Canterbury, and his collection is now on display at the Canterbury Cathedral. There's a fantastic explorable cabinet where you can see his preserved chameleon and a monk's finger!
Part of what is so interesting about this historical moment when obscure collections blossomed throughout Europe - is that these encyclopedic collections of natural and ethnographic objects where still in the process of being categorized and understood as scientific exploration and definition blossomed in Renaissance Europe. Cabinets of curiosities, also known as wonder-rooms, Wunderkammers, kunstkabinett, included objects from natural history, archaeology, religious relics, geology, ethnography and antiques. Collectors particularly loved objects that defied categorization like Dodo birds - birds that didn't fly - or curious medical objects created by new fields of scientific study and classification. Below is the 18th century, Domenico Remps,' Art chamber closet.
The main ingredients of the perfect collection where those which would showcase (literally) the collector's education and learning. Collectors sought to have objects in the following categories: naturalia (products of the natural world), arteficialia (the products of man), scientifica (instruments and objects of the sciences, such as astrolabes, clocks, automatons, and scientific instruments), exotica (collected from distant lands and cultures) and antiquities. Below is Jan Breughels, Sense of Sight, one of his Five Senses paintings, situated in a Cabinet of Curiosities.
Perhaps what is most wonderful, is that these collections are necessarily precious or expensive - they are full of sentiment and history. Curiosities collected on journeys that invoke memories of travel, experiences of the far away smells and tastes of different lands. They are a rather magical expression of human inquisitiveness and our ability to take pleasure in small things and celebrate the stories they tell.
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Check out our some of our artifacts and keepsakes necklaces:
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The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and served as a showcase for San Francisco's recovery from the 1906 earthquake and its emergence as a global city. The fair was built on a 635 acre stretch of land that we now know as the Marina.
The Palace of Fine Arts, past home of the Exploratorium, is the only remaining building complex.
On display at the fair was the first steam engine purchased by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The Tower of Jewels was covered with 100,000 cut glass gems known as novagems, lit by spotlights at night with stunning effect.
We've collected several souvenir medallions and watch fobs from the PPIE - including this 1915 keepsake welcoming the world to San Francisco.
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We have a beautiful selection of scarlet red Czech glass button necklaces in the Valentines Day Collection
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Cultivating future Makers at the Maker Faire with DIY Wearable Art!
We're now in our fourth year of doing Maker Faire! We've set up shop at the Maker Faire Central, East Bay Mini Maker Fair and San Diego Maker Faire. The Maker Faire (project of MAKE Magazine) is continuing to grow and capture some of our favorite cultural trends - especially supporting curiosity in young makers. You'll find hardcore Silicon Valley scientists and engineers, burning man folks, lego aficionados, renaissance fair and cos play fans in full attire, educators and and their kids. Everyone is making things. Taking things apart. Problem-solving. Cooperating. Innovating. Reinventing.
Our specialty is engaging with history and making by transforming daily artifacts into wearable art. Johnny and I always bring our history-laden jewelry and a BUNCH of maker kits to encourage the next generation of makers. Both Johnny and I started making and disassembling as young people and encouraging kids to MAKE things has become increasingly significant to us. We did not expect to become full time-makers. Both Johnny and I have had an inquiry of "is it ok to be a maker?" Our parents hoped we would have jobs where we wore suits, and we have ended up running a small business recycling tiny antique objects into jewelry. We use our hands and our brains to do soldering and marketing and have found ways to work hard and have a balanced life. As we've realized that the answer is an emphatic YES, we want to encourage young people to cultivate their own skills. You never know where your skills will lead you!
For the last two years, we've added a free hands-on activity:
DIY Historical paper necklaces!
We have a treasure trove of old paper, French encyclopedias, vintage maps, antique photos, and colors and patterns of all sorts.
Everyone selects and punches their paper, makes a collage, and sets it in a pendant under a glass magnifying lens in a free silver pendant. It's been a HUGE hit!
As always, the Steampunk Supplies kits are inspiring lots of projects! Our favorite was a father-son steampunk costume. They had been working on it as a collaboration for two years and were ecstatic to find the last pieces they needed before their Halloween debut.
We love watching what people make as different imaginations and ideas result in a myriad of cool projects made from upcycled objects.
Several weeks after the East Bay Maker Faire, we sent a collection of watches and buttons and historical tidbits to Johnny's sister and her first grade class. They were studying "The Past" so we sent some basic daily objects from the Victorian era that would help them understand how technology and daily life change.
Apparently, it was very popular. We realized that encouraging young people to have the confidence to make, to see things in a different way, and to engage with history - is important. Understanding the past is important as well.
Thank you Maker Faire community!
We finished up some custom work for one of our regular customers that was one of my favorite projects so far! This project was a classic case of transforming things languishing in a drawer into wearable, usable heirloom designs to be worn and enjoyed!
The customer wanted to add the watch to the bracelet and to come out with a few pieces to share with her daughter. I found a similar watch with crystal embellishment and added the extra bracelet gemstone as an accent to make a complete set. For the shoe buckle, I added two matching vintage watch bands and the effect is stunning.
The key was a simple celebration of U of M - an old key kept for years transformed into something wearable. Industrial but elegant.
So happy with the results!!
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This is my favorite summer refresher to make with my nephews. Nothing beats fresh cool citrus with a touch of mint! While waiting for more of the lemons to ripen in the backyard, I used limes and it was delightful! Also goes well with sparkling water and can easily be made into a cocktail!
Summer Lemonade or Limeade with Mint
(makes about six servings)
5 lemons or limes, juiced
4 - 5 tablespoons sugar
2 cups mint leaves, densely packed
1 quart (4 cups) water
A few extra lime slices and mint leaves, for garnish
1. Put all ingredients, except for the water, in a pitcher or large Mason jar.
2. Muddle the sugar, mint and lime juice together until the mint leaves have been reduced by half and the sugar has blended well with the lime juice.
3. Add the water.
4. Taste, and adjust ingredients as needed, adding more lime or more sugar or more water to taste.
5. Let the mixture cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
6. Strain the mint leaves out.
7. Pour into glasses of ice and enjoy!