Family Keepsakes - Custom Project #23

Jewelry is infused with sentimentality and memory. Since the inception of adornment, jewelry has been much more than decoration. These wearable keepsakes are at the center of what we care about and why we work with historic objects. We do many custom projects with family heirlooms, but this latest one is perhaps one of the most meaningful.

We recently worked on a project for a dear family friend, more of an auntie, my mom's oldest friend. My mom passed away several years ago at 59 - too young, but she infused me and all the people in her life with a deep sense of loving honesty. My mom had many strong friendships that lasted multiple decades in her life, but Kemay knew her longest. They met in college when one of them got stuck with a roommate she didn't click with and the other had a roommate that had just moved out to get married. They instantly connected and later that night, though my mom usually went to bed early, Kemay came to her door and knocked. My mom was up late writing a paper and they just decided to be friends.

Below, My mom (left) and Kemay (right) at my brother's birthday party in the late 1970s.

My mom (left) and Kemay (right) at my brother's birthday party in the late 1970s.

Johnny and I visited Kemay recently and she gave me a project. In a small weathered paper bag, she had her father's uniform buttons and wanted to make them into a necklace for her. 

I've been doing beadwork for 15 years, though I've tended towards metal for the last several years. The timing of Kemay's necklace was rather wonderful, as I recently started doing more beadwork, like this Greek Revival agate watch fob signet with malachite and onyx.

This custom project awoke my inner beadwork aficionado and I've been beading ever since! I had to do a double strand to stabilize the buttons, a well-known beading technique, and really happy with the results!

and a close - up:

Then I just kept going. This technique allows me to use buttons I have saved for years that don't work with our other designs. 

Interested in a custom project - email us! 

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