Once upon a time there was a wistful young girl who had no idea what she wanted, or any idea who she was. Funny thing about that girl, though: she knew she'd figure it out. Life is full of possibilities, after all.
There's a line from the movie "Arthur" that has always struck me. Arthur (Dudley Moore) was a dilatory, spoiled millionaire who drank too much and had to be waited on head to foot, by his trusty butler. He made aquaintance with a common, lower-class young woman, I can't remember her name now or how he met her, but she was played by Liza Minelli. (1981 version)
Anyway: he was dumbstruck by booze and having never done anything with his life, and she was dumbstruck by the POSSIBILITIES in life.
In one scene they are riding along in his limosine (I think!) and she is looking out the window, into the sky. Eventually Arthur asks her what was so interesting out there. She said:
"When I was young, I thought the moon followed me."
He didn't understand that, of course. It is an odd concept, inebriated or not! But, when I was young, I thought the moon followed me. I understood.
Why or how it followed me, I did not know, at that time in my life, I just thought that it did. Really! it doesn't follow any of us. Neither do possibilities. We have to chase them!
I began to chase my possibilities when as a teenager, I had a passion for fashion design. I loved to draw out my ideas, sew, cut my own patterns, invent my own look. No sewing pattern was safe from me. I would read the directions and toss them away with a maniacal laugh! ....and begin re-contouring them, splitting them, adding pieces, taking pieces away. This was one of my favorite patterns:
Betsey Johnson has always been a favorite. I wish she would make that line again! I could never afford it when I was young, but I buy it now whenever I can. ANYWAY: That basque waist was not good for my chubby little figure, so I re-made the pattern several ways. HA! It always came out looking like a hot mess.
I didn't waste time on the hot messes, and I never took them apart to find out what went wrong. I remained in motion! It was on to the next length of fabric and the latest artsy-fartsy thing I'd seen in Vogue magazine, or Harper's Bazaar. Sometimes, the results of my pattern ripping and re-arranging were genius. I wore those frocks with a swish and a sway, yeah baby, I made this dress, not only did I make it, I designed it. I was on my way to figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do, now!
Never did I dream that one day I'd be pushing beads around on a table, like Madame (Chanel). No, I'm not the head of my own clothing line, but POSSIBILITIES! I did create SEVERAL lines of jewelry. I didn't know a THING about making jewelry. Did that matter? After all... the moon followed me, and so, if I liked it and wanted to do it, I believed I could do it.
I must say, I skipped the cigarette thing. Fortunately I realized quite early that nicotine fumes would do nothing for my creativity. Or, the chronic bronchitis that plagued me for many years.
Long story short, let's fast-forward to 2012:
Here's a possibility that became one of my GREAT EXPECTATIONS. I had such great hope for this darling little candy box of a shop. Some of you got to visit me there!
The more of you that came, the happier I was!
Three years later I decided that some businesses DO grow better at home. The GREAT EXPECTATION was a wonderful learning experience, but turns out, it wasn't my calling. Back home we came, summer of 2015. We had an outdoor sale of a lot of the equipment and excess merchandise, fixtures, vintage furniture. Some antiques dealers came in early and got stuff for a steal. THEN: one lady stopped by and BOUGHT IT ALL!
After that, I had a cyber yard sale for the Creative Group. Many wanted a little something from the shop. I sold 40 muse boxes. Everyone was happy. I kept my favorite things, so the current workshop is full of memorabilia from that experience. My map chest, the decoupaged central work table, the pegboard on the back wall....you name it. I sit and work among my souvenirs and I smile. I'm not sad that the shop didn't work out for us.
Maybe something else would!
There are ALWAYS more POSSIBILITIES to ponder, and GREAT EXPECTATIONS to be had.
You see, I knew about this guy. Back to the late sixties, he was just out of the service, no job yet, at loose ends. It was Southern California, kind of a cool place to be in those days. He decided he would peddle Mod watches. I think it was Mod watches, anyway! Something like this, maybe:
In time selling watches worked out okay. Turns out, he was selling lots of those watches. As he went about to take care of his accounts, he began to notice the jewelry in the shops. Late sixties jewelry was composed of a lot of chains. This chain, that chain, long chains, multilayered chains. He saw POSSIBILITIES.
So, he and a few other guys got together and started looking for chain, so they could make chain jewelry and become the chain guys. They discovered that they could take raw brass chain, brush it down with black lacquer paint on paint brushes, wipe it off, and antique the brass in a most beguiling way. We'd call that colorization, now. We do it all the time. Well, they were doing it a long time ago!
Since it was lacquer paint, it never came off. The chain finish was stable. It was a great look. They nailed a trend! Soon they were selling as many necklaces as they could make, as fast as they could make them. But.... how did you make a bracelet? How did you make earrings? The guy knew, hey, we need to learn a bunch of stuff and we need to learn it fast or we'll lose this opportunity. The POSSIBILITY.
Fast forward a bit: they really did make it happen as a team, and then he made it happen on his own. His POSSIBILITY became a GREAT EXPECTATION, and then, a REALITY that has lasted well over 45 years. That reality that just happens to be a household word, today: The 1928 Jewelry Company.
Years ago when I was down in my basement hole banging out my big-little line of gift jewelry with my friends, I heard about that guy. I often wondered about him. I actually had even contacted his company back in 1975 because I saw a chain necklace in a magazine that had a pretty bead on it. that I liked. It would work for the bridesmaids in my wedding. They weren't able to help me then.
No 1928 Jewelry at my wedding......but! Yes, indeed I designed that dress. It was based on the dress my Great-Grandmother, Agnes Bittinger Brenneman wore back in 1901. My mother made all the button loops that went all down the back. I can't say she did it with pleasure, but she did it...and she did it with love. (Oh by the way! you should have seen the big Victorian hat I made to go with it. It was something between stroke of genius and hot mess, but I wore it happily as I skipped down the aisle, all of 19 and a half years old......)
As usual, I digress. Continuing: as I made my big-little line of jewelry, I sometimes thought about what I had read about that guy who started 1928. I heard that he started in a garage. I read an interview where they said he didn't wear jewelry and was just all about what needed to be done. A quote from the article (I think it was Los Angeles Times, 1990) was that in the beginning, he was 'trying not to starve'. Somehow I still pictured him there, gluing little bisque roses on stuff just like I was doing. Maybe a hippie kind of guy, or somebody who liked to surf and was just trying to keep it together, making jewelry in between good waves.
What a strange impression to have, moon girl! I already knew his jewelry was in every mall all around the world!
And here I was in my basement selling to hospital gift shops. Here is where HE was working:
A couple of years ago, I got to meet the guy. His name is Mel Bernie. One day he emailed me. My jaw dropped! OMG, I know who this guy is. Then he called me to sell me some stuff, but we ended up tossing around ideas. POSSIBILITIES. I think he respected the fact that I had followed his company, loved his jewelry and actually cared a great deal about it. (Well guess what....LOTS of people do). We also had a lot of mutual shared experiences in business. I learned from him....and he actually learned from me. And it just keeps happening.
Shelley and I went out there last summer. He had been inviting me over and over, and then, he pretty much insisted. I didn't know what he wanted with a little nobody like me. When I was there, I helped him sort some vintage inventory he had and we did some visiting. Things kept clicking. I wasn't there at the factory very long before I felt I belonged there. It kept drawing me in and I really wanted to be a part of what was so compelling, yet still an enigma, to me.
The conversations continued daily after I came home, dumbstruck by life and possibilities. Just like Liza Minelli in Arthur.
The result is what you see there on the poster in my workshop. You probably know that this work spot also serves as my video set? So we have placed that banner there to brand the space for a new GREAT EXPECTATION: B'sue by 1928.
What is B'sue by 1928? For now, it is a curated collection of pieces Mr. Bernie allowed me to select from his vast castings library of over 35,000+ antique jewelry molds. His molds are wonderful, and the pieces he makes with them have incredible detail. Nobody does it better than 1928! Even though he didn't know anything much about jewelry when he began (just like I didn't!), today, that name is synonymous with style, quality and elegance. It is truly TIMELESS.
The pieces he is making for B'sue by 1928 were used in his copyrighted designs for his company, over many years in business. They are unique on their own, but even more so now, because they have B'sue artisan finishes on them. NEVER has the 1928 Company released their design molds so that components could be made for others to use in their own designs. And for sure, NEVER have they EVER had finishes on them like these:
The gingerbread is almost exactly the color of the old French vintage stampings. Add a little more patina with a gentle touch of black or black/brown acrylic paint, wipe on, wipe off. The Rusted Iron can be distressed to reveal copper underneath. The silver is so rich....and a great match to our silverware silver plated line at B'sue Boutiques Rusted Iron as well as Gingerbread take patina like Swellegant, very nicely.
I was just fiddling with some POSSIBILITIES last night. Found out quick that regular tissue decoupage with lots of resin may not work great on rusted iron pewter...but prob will be fine with gingerbread and raw pewter. We're going to have a lot of fun with the raw pewter, changing it up and making it our own in so many ways.
Necessity being the mother of invention AND new POSSIBILITIES, I will mention that I took that heart with the bad decoupage (above in the necklace design) OFF, fiddled around some more and I came up with something else that looks really good. I'll share it with you when I'm done!
And yes, you CAN buy a few pieces from this line already! Find it here: B'sue by 1928 Pewter Castings by the 1928 Jewelry Company, at B'sue Boutiques
People ask me, aren't you EXCITED about this new line?
Well.... 1928 is a winner in any form. It is so gracious of Mel Bernie to release these things so now artisans may also design with them. No jewelry company has ever done that....none could! VERY FEW jewelry companies actually MAKE their own findings, so that it could even be possible. Nobody is following the moon here, neither is the moon following them. The castings we have here in our hot little hands are TRIED and TRUE, over 45 five years of screaming successes.
The finishes are tried and true, as well. Anyone who knows B'sue Boutiques knows that I don't tolerate what I call, 'scuse me, 'crap finishes'. I have no place for them in my creative life and neither do you. I want the best.....or I don't want it at all.
There is still much hard work to do, and I need all my energy to get this venture on its feet and MOVING. I am still in POSSIBILITIES and GREAT EXPECTATIONS mode. Soon B'sue by 1928 will feature custom designs unique to this line, and NOT currently in their archives. We intend for there to be new pieces available all the time. The line will grow constantly. You will never be bored with the same old tired pieces.
In a few weeks I am returning to Burbank for more sorting through old stuff for inspiration, checking out more castings, brainstorming new ideas. We will be working at the factory for a full week, and previous to that, Mr. Bernie, Shelley and I will be at CHA (Craft and Hobby Association) in Phoenix, so that he can have a good look at my world and how the crafts industry works.
Great expectations indeed! Too soon for popping corks, my friends.....but if you get a piece of B'sue by 1928 in your hands, you're going to feel a creative buzz from your head to your toes.
Here is the video from last week's introduction, if you haven't seen it yet:
One last thing: Mel Bernie has another passion that is just about as strong as jewelry making. He supports the efforts of his wife, Laurie, and daughter Emily, who run Life Animal Rescue Their mission is to rescue abandoned dogs and cats and place them in loving, forever homes.
They also have a special project of rescuing as many dogs as they can from shelters in Thailand, as well. If you love animals, check out what Laurie and Emily do. You will be very impressed! Check out their Facebook page!