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Archive for December, 2010

Paul Flato Hollywood Whimsical Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on December 19, 2010

Paul Flato – Hollywood Whimsical Jewelry

Paul Flato, who died at 98 in 1999, was known as the Jeweler To The Stars.    In the 1930’s and 1940’s, he brought European styling to costume and fine jewelry, and added some Hollywood whimsical touches.

He grew up in Texas near the King Ranch, in a well-to-do family.   He began making jewelry and bejeweled saddles there.

After a stint at The University of Texas at Austin, Flato moved to Manhattan and attended Columbia University, then spent several years working for jewelers before he went into business for himself, opening a boutique on 57th Street.

He advertised in VogueHarper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair; hosted lavish jewelry fashion shows; had a booth at the 1939 World’s Fair; and soon sold his extravagant jewels to Brenda Frazier, Doris Duke, Norma Shearer, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Millicent Rogers, Linda and Cole Porter, and dukes and duchesses.

His genius lay in eccentric assemblages and unlikely color combinations of stones that were theatrical and conceptual.

n 1938, Flato opened a store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood at the urging of George Cukor and designed jewels for the movie Holiday with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Then came five more motion pictures: Hired WifeThat Uncertain FeelingBlood and SandTwo-Faced Woman and The Lady is Willing.

Perhaps you’ve seen some of these pieces of jewelry from old movies and fashion magazines.

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Posted by learntobead on December 16, 2010

A message from David Chatt

David Chatt recently sent out an email calling attention to his current project, and requesting financial support.

This project and this process for finding support of one’s creative self are fascinating.    We have a professional campaign for personal philanthropy.   We have a coordinated marketing effort with an email campaign and a facebook presence.

I wanted to share this with you.      You may want to make a worthy donation to his cause.     You may also want to learn from his successes.

David wrote:


At some point in the past  you expressed interest in what I have been doing, specifically about my writing a book.  Well for the past three years I’ve been living in North Carolina doing an artist residency at Penland School of Crafts.  I am now working on a large finale piece.  a 2000 pound window for the front of my house. I am going to be blogging  and posting on Facebook about it as I make progress. I invite you to become a fan of the Community Crow by joining my fan page on Facebook.   I am including a link to a video I have done to introduce this project… fair warning, United States Artists, where you will find this video and a link to my blog, is helping me to raise money for this project.  Fear not, while I am welcoming all donations, you need not feel obliged, and I welcome your interest whether it comes with a donation or just good wishes.  I hope this finds you well.


You can find some more requests from other artists, craftspersons and performance artists for “Personal Philanthropy” on this web-page:


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Vicente Gracia

Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2010

Vicente Gracia

One of Spains leading contemporary jewelers.

See a videos of his studio and jewelry on his website above.   Click on the link for ART, and wait a few seconds for a slideshow.   Click on the link for SHOWROOM and play the video.



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Grape Cluster Earrings

Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2010

Grape Cluster Earrings

This is a good 2nd project for beginner earring makers, after making simple dangles using head pins.     Instead of head pins as the “skeleton”, you would use a piece of cable chain as the “skeleton”.

Here are simple instructions how:




Use your imagination.     You can make these into necklaces.   You can make them bushier, or more spare.    You can leave part of the chain showing, and dangle only from the end, or dangle intermittently up the chain.



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Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

In many traditional cultures, the religious, the mystical, the magical, the royalty wore jewelry that consisted of combinations of amber and jet.     These natural fossils were believed have special qualities and powers, and when used together, even moreso.

Amber is fossilized tree sap.   Amber flowed from pine trees that flourished 50 to 60 million years ago.    Most amber comes from either the Dominican Republic, the Baltic area of Poland and Russia, and China.

Amber is one of the oldest substances used for jewelry.    In ancient times, it was prized as “solid sunlight”, and believed to have many of the sun’s properties.

Image above from Thyme2dreamwww.thyme2dream.com ),  blog: www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection (http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)
Amber comes in a wide range of colors.    The colors often are called food names.   We have cherry amber, custard, butterscotch, butter, caramel, egg-yolk, tomato, honey, cognac, orange, fatty, and cream.   There is also green amber and blue amber, tiger amber, black-and-white amber, blonde and white.

There are some simple tests to determine if your amber is genuine.   One is that you take a hot needle and touch it to the maber.    There should be a faint piney smell.   Another, rubbing amber with a soft cloth will often cause it to give off an electrical spark, and attract a very light object like a feather.   Yet another is a salt flotation test.  Place several tablespoons of salt in a glass of water, and float a piece of amber in it.   Amber floats; glass and plastic sinks.

Jet is the fossilized remains of trees.    It was often called “black amber”.    Jet comes in different softnesses, so some is less durable than others.   Jet from lignite coal is the softest, while that from anthracite coal is the hardest.   Jet became very popular during Victorian times in England for use in mourning jewelry.

Jet is easily confused with glass.  There is only one test.  First,wear safety goggles.    Take a single jet bead and suspend it from a wire, and hold it over a flame with a a pair of pliers.     Genuine jet will smoke and often turn white at the edges, while plastic will melt and glass will simply explode.

Image above from Thyme2dream ( www.thyme2dream.com ),  blog:www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection(http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)

Jet is more likely than glass to display tiny cracks and scratches, or to be irregularly faceted, and to feel lighter and warmer to the touch.    Jet is a generic term in jewelry, so buying “jet” is always something of a risk.   French Jet is glass.  Austrian jet is glass crystal.   Bakelite jet is a plastic.

The “magical union” between amber and jet dates from ancient times.   It probably represented the union between light and dark, yin and yang, female and male — dualities.

The combination of amber and jet is believed, by many magicians and witches, to be the only combination of stones that gives a full spectrum of electrical energies, from positive to negative.

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The Silver Jewelry of Oman

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

The Silver Jewelry of Oman

Oman has a very rich and distinctive jewelry tradition. Due to the nation’s long history of seafaring and trade, many influences of other cultures can be seen in Omani jewelry. Oman in particular traded with India and the Golden Triangle: trading partners whose influence is still visible in Omani jewelry today. Many Omani anklets and bracelets are reminiscent of Indian jewelry. A specific type of Omani necklace clearly derives from the jewelry of the Hmong tribes in the Golden Triangle.


The jewelry is characteristic of traditional, nomadic societies, but with special touches, techniques and motifs, with all the influences from the outside world.

The use of coins or ‘umla’ is widespread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Issued by an official mint long before the introduction of silver hallmarks, coins were an indication of an established and guaranteed silver content.   Two coins that both possess a high silver content and are of consistently good quality, proved to be of major importance in the nomadic societies of the Middle East, and indeed in the economical landscape of the entire world. They are the Spanish columnario or pillar dollar, and the Austrian Maria Theresia Thaler.

Originally, Bedouin and traditional jewelry did not carry hallmarks; the region’s jewelry tradition predates their use, as well as modern state boundaries. As each piece of jewelry was individually ordered from a silversmith, the amount of silver to be used was carefully discussed, weighed and paid for. To establish the correct amount of silver, the material was balanced against a known amount of silver, for example a set of coins such as the Maria Theresia Thaler.

At around the beginning of the twentieth century, most countries adopted an official hallmarking system. For a very long time, existing pieces of jewelry were marked only when they were sold; their exact value only needed to be established at the moment of sale. To illustrate its value, an item of jewelry usually displayed its silver stamp on the outside, where it would be most visible.

One of jewelry’s most important functions is to reveal the status of the wearer. If a husband gives jewelry to his wife it shows respect. Jewelry can also indicate social status, or the religious group to which the wearer belongs.


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nOir Jewelry – Capturing a Fantastic Style

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

nOir Jewelry – Capturing a Fantastic Style

nOir Jewelry is a phenomenal hit among the celebrity set, and a visit to their website shows you why.     Fantastic, imaginary pieces.

Leeora Catalan is the owner and designer of this 14 year old company.    She produces jewelry that is glamourous, fun and edgy at the same time.    She has produced special pieces for various clothing designers, musicians and actors.

From a marketing standpoint, how do you capture the excitement and thrill her pieces generate?

Let’s look at some of her pieces, and then look at one of her marketing ads, and compare.




And now the promotional ad:


Now, I’ve only presented a sample of her pieces, so it may not be fair to compare what I’ve shown to the ad-copy.     However, to me, the ad seems to showcase nOir as art deco jewelry.    But it seems to be so much more than that.    Her jewelry has power and artistry beyond deco.

What do you think?   How would you begin to get ahold of noir jewelry, from a marketing and ad-copy perspective?

With or without the marketing, it’s clear that Talent has found Talent.

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Natural Materials and Embedded Gemstones

Posted by learntobead on December 1, 2010

Natural Materials and Embedded Gemstones

More of Lionel Aubert’s Work


After posting some of Lionel Aubert’s jewelry, he wrote me, and sent me more images of his pieces, which I share here.

Lionel wrote:

Passionate about gem stones, I realized that nobody had encrusted gemstones from natural materials without glue. So I developed my work and creativity on this combination of materials. I created this embedding method in order to propose new jewelry and objects that are innovative, not by the material but by their marriage. The idea of embedding gemstones with no glue is unique. It is made from natural materials like wood, bamboo, horn, seeds, bones, etc..



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