Looking for my jewelry?

For my vintage pretties at Bonanza, Click here.

For my handcrafted pretties: City Pretties!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Amazing Local Design & Decor Experts

In my ongoing quest for the best locally-owned services and retail establishments here in Kansas City, I've recently become aware of a great little shop in the Prairie Village Shopping Center (6911 Tomahawk Rd.) that specializes in home decor: Stoney Broke, Ltd.

Stoney Broke has a number of things going for it. It's locally owned by Kansas City Interior Designer Joye Adamson, and when it comes to buying unique and different items for her clients to discover, she really knows her stuff. The accessories offered cover all price points and there are some excellent bargains to be found. Three design professionals are on staff to advise on everything from paint and wallpaper to where-should-I-put this-great-bowl-I-just-bought, and a complete floral design team experienced in creating the perfect arrangement or seasonal wreath for you is at your beck and call.

Several of my girlfriends have known about this wonderful store for some time and one of them is part of their personable and knowledgeable staff.

If you're looking for expert and elegant interior, floral, or complete home design, an objet you'll love, an unusual Christmas gift for someone cool, or if there's just something for your home you've been looking for that you can't seem to find, I recommend you give Stoney Broke a look and a call. They probably have it!

Check out their web site or call them at (913) 432.3700.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I don't ask for things on my blog, but this is a special circumstance.  If you are reading this and can help, it will mean so much.

My friend Linda, restaurant manager, baseball fan, movie buff and comedienne extraordinaire, has a debilitating spinal condition for which she recently underwent surgery.  Add to that the fact that this surgery has left her incapacitated for 6-8 weeks and therefore unable to work, and you see the problem.

So, the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill and ComedyCity (at the Flea Market) are holding a benefit fundraiser for her.  There will be live music (and open mic) by some of Kansas City's favorite local musicians.  There will be cheap world famous Flea Market burgers and beer. There will be comedy.  And there will be raffles with incredible prizes.  Even a City Pretties Earrings of the Month Club membership (a pair of earrings once a month for six months - a $99 value).

The cover charge will be $5 (for the Flea Market side), $20 (for the ComedyCity side, which pays for the show, entry to the Flea Market and two tickets to a future ComedyCity show!) and raffle tickets are $2 (buy five, get one free!) for the smaller items and $10 for "big ticket" items, including Chiefs and Royals tickets, dinners at The Quaff, bluestem, Avenues Bistro, Governor Stumpy's, Matsu Sushi, a year's free admission to the Riot Room, and much, much more.

You can find more information and the invitation here.

Donations will also be accepted via PayPal to lindadonations@fastmail.net.  This can be done absolutely safely and securely:

1.  Go to PayPal
2.  Click on the "Send Money" link at the top of the page
3.  In the To: box, enter lindadonations@fastmail.net
4.  In the From: box, enter your email address
5.  In the Amount: box, enter the amount you wish to donate
6.  The For: button should indicate "Services/Other"
7.  Click "Continue"
8.  On the next page you will securely enter your credit or debit card info (or if you already have a PayPal account, you will sign in)
9.  Click "Agree & Continue"
10. Review your payment and info, write a message if you like, and click the orange "Send Money button.

You should receive an immediate email receipt for your payment.  Please rest assured that your donation will reach Linda in cash.

If you live in KC, join us at 817 Westport Road on Sunday night, November 30, starting at 7pm! 

Your good will will mean so much to someone who needs it.  Please help if you can!

Thank you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Groovy jewelry, for sure

Known for his chunky lucite baubles, Alexis Bittar is a jewelry designer inspired by the 70s and 80s who injects new life into those eras. He gave New York Magazine a peek into his Brooklyn studio.

Regardless what celebrities buy his stuff, I have to say that when there's an abundance of jewelry on display at a department store (even if it is Nordstrom), I assume it's mass-produced. Not so with Bittar's work - all of it is painstakingly crafted by hand. Dig the flower, man:

Alexis Bittar Large Lucite® Pin with Swarovski Crystals. Click photo to purchase.

I can't say I love it all, but I love some of it a lot! What's not to love about lucite and the two decades I remember the most fondly (if the least clearly)?

Pieces are sold at Nordstrom, among other venues. He also designs beautiful, drippy, semi-precious stone pieces, which can be found here.  And check out his groovy web site here, where you can enter to win FREE Alexis Bittar jewelry!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back in the saddle

I have been out of commission when it comes to my blogging. Here's why:

My new web site! I've been working my little tush off on it since March. Why did it take me so long? Ha! Well, I'll start by pointing out that I now know why people who build websites for a living charge so much money. It's insanely complicated and mind-bogglingly frustrating. Now, I'm sure that people who've done it a few times are good and quick at it and it doesn't confound them like it did me, and dealing with the third incarnation of it (after I completely killed two previous incarnations - accidentally) has taught me a LOT about what not to do.

So, I'm back and I'll be working on the site more, getting descriptions in and tweaking the techie stuff. I hope to have it up and running within a few weeks (I tried for September 1, but didn't succeed). In the meantime, I'm going to try to get back to blogging about what I love - thank you for your patience with me and I hope I haven't alienated too many people.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Susan Chin

Philomena Earrings. Ebony, 22k and 18k yellow gold, australian boulder opals. 2.5" x .33 x. 33".

The first time I came across Susan Chin's idiosyncratic jewelry it seemed reminiscent of cartoon motifs. This is hardly a bad thing; I was instantly attracted. As I explored more of her style I realized there is nothing simple about it. To the contrary, it is extremely complex. It just looks simple. Doodles in bone and ebony, precious stones and pearls, asymmetrical whimsy in 18 karat gold.

Opal & Ebony Podform Earrings by Susan Chin.

Wearable objects formed from unusual and refined materials: that is one of the very profound features that sets her pieces apart from those of other artists.

Starry Stick Brooch. Ebony embedded with 18k and 22k yellow gold, semi-precious stones. 4"x .5" x .5".

Chunky Bracelet.

Susan Chin is a fine metalsmith, craftswoman and jeweler. She is above all an artist. Although they are fairly abstract, one finds a familiarity in her pieces. Above is a Chunky Bracelet that looks as though it was made from found objects at the seashore. Below is a gorgeous brooch suggesting a doughnut with sprinkles.

Crusted Circle Brooch

Yet another bracelet, this one evocative of urchins and seed pods:

Ebony Pods Bracelet.

Her inspiration:
"My ideas or inspirations derive from the collective experiences and encounters of my walking and imaginative life. I love the forms of the natural world… the clever seed pods, the designs of the human body, floppy microorganisms. A brooch or a ring emerges from my stash of materials and is coaxed and teased into physical form until it is a thing which can be cherished. I see most of my pieces as installments in an ongoing conversation that I started many pieces and many years ago."
Look at the Hoary Heart Brooch - its soft look is deceiving, as it's formed from metal, but it doesn't stop one from wanting to reach out and touch it.

Hoary Heart Brooch.

And it reminds me of hedgehogs.

As I said, her work is far from simple. Susan is a pensive and intelligent person, calm and serious, and yet her work reflects a wonderful sense of humor as well as a canny grasp of natural beauty and the ability and need to express it.
"My work is highly personal wearable sculpture that is in conversation with
my emotional and preconscious self. I grapple, hammer and negotiate to
make the ideas and images, the bone, the metal, the wood, the stones, and
whatever other shiny objects join the fray, to construct a wearable totem or
body decoration. It¹s a compelling activity that¹s hard to match."

Bone & 18K Gold Brooch.

The bone and gold brooch above reminds me of a euglena,

only it's much prettier, of course.

Ebony Rocks Bracelet. Ebony, 22k and 18k yellow golds, australian boulder opals and pearls. 8" x 1" x .5"

Her work is highly personal - it is unique and charismatic. (Seriously, I want to touch it.) I love the Cassandra Necklace - charms and asterisks, pearls and opals, gold and ebony and bone. The black and white are alternated with the blues and golds and purples, and I would wear it every day if I owned it.

Cassandra Necklace

You can find a large portion of Susan Chin's resumé here. To find out more about her and her unique vision, visit her web site here. And if you'd like to contact her about exhibiting her work (and see her upcoming shows), buying her pieces or telling her how amazing her talent is, click here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Clare & The Reasons

My friend, Paul Dalen of Reverse-Thread, wrote on his happy blog about this band. That's when I knew I had to check out Clare & The Reasons, because Paulie's got great taste. He's one of those lucky people in NYC who can just walk to the nearest cool venue and listen to great music. Fortunately, he shares his discoveries with me.
Clare Muldaur

Clare Muldaur is the daughter of Geoff Muldaur (amazing singer and founding member of the Paul Butterfield Better Days blues band), half sister of Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Maria Muldaur, whose big hit back in the 70s was "Midnight at the Oasis," although I love most of her music) and niece of Diana Muldaur, who played Dr. Pulaski in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

All of that said, she's obviously her own woman and stands without her famous relatives, on her own, exciting and novel in her talents. You won't hear a band with this unique sound anywhere except a C&TR show.

Go to her MySpace page here and listen to her music - I highly recommend "Pluto," "Rodi" and "Cook for You."

They will be playing at South By Southwest in Austin this month, so you can catch them there, or you can buy the new CD, "The Movie" on iTunes, at your local record store or on Amazon.com. Do it. I did. Be cool like me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First breathe . . .

. . . then take in the exquisite beauty in the work of Jim Kelso. Actually, you will breathe, because Kelso's work makes you feel relaxed. At the same time, his art is breath-taking. Contradictory, eh?

Working in ferrous (containing iron) and non-ferrous metals, he forges, chases, hammers and burnishes life into his pieces.

The "expression of Nature" he strives for is evident in every single piece I've seen. In his artist's statement, Mr. Kelso declares that he seeks to
"Work in gold, silver, non-ferrous alloys, iron and steel using the Japanese and European techniques of fabrication, casting, engraving, carving, inlay, coloration, patination, vitreous enameling and blade shaping. Also, [work] in wood and fossil ivory using carving, inlay, engraving and fabrication techniques to complete the piece."

"First Rain." Pendant by Jim Kelso.

As a young art student in the 70s, I recall well my drawing teacher reminding me to be very conscious of the "negative space," that is, the blank space on the surface on which I was drawing or painting, or the "air" around a piece being molded or sculpted. It's a very Asian concept - the yin and the yang: male and female, negative and positive, black and white, heaven and earth. One cannot exist without the other.

Using fundamental Japanese metalworking art theories and techniques, he creates captured moments of nature that whisper gently but leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

"Rabbit Over The Waves Brooch" (after painting by Zeshin) 18k gold, copper, pure silver, shakudo. 58mm x 28mm - 2.3" x 1.1" by Jim Kelso

Shibata Zeshin, innovative Japanese artist of the Edo Period and early Meiji Restoration, serves as an inspiration for the brooch pictured above. The rabbit is often used as a representative of the moon in Japanese art, and this piece depicts that plainly to me. The moon over the water. Here is one of Zeshin's beautiful paintings. Note once more, the negative space:

"Hawk and the Warning Bird." (Original Title: Yukiyanagi taka no zu) Japanese, Meiji era, late 19th century Shibata Zeshin, Japanese, 1807–1891. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk. From the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

I find a wonderful contradiction in his work in that the noise, effort and even violence necessary in forging metalwork, and the hardness and sharpness of the materials used, has created objects of quiet and soft serenity. Moths and simple butterflies are a particular favorite of the artist, and these two pieces depicting them on ferns are perfect examples of my meaning:

Top: "Japanese Sword-fern Pin." 18k gold, copper, shakudo moth. Length 7cm - 2.75" Price on request. Bottom: "Fern and Butterfly Pin." 18k gold, copper, shakudo. 6.4cm (2.5").

Death finds its place among his pieces as well, as it should. There is no renewal of life if there is no death. The yin cannot exist without the yang.

"Ebony Leaf" by Jim Kelso

I've always been a great admirer of an artist who successfully uses hard media to create fluid objects. Gingkos and maples are personal favorites of mine, and Mr. Kelso recreates them in mouth-watering detail. The use of the translucent horn to create a gossamer effect is stunning.

Left: "Gingko Brooch." 18k gold, carved horn, moonstones 66mm x 54mm - 2.6" x 2.1." Right: "Samsara Brooch." 18k gold, carved horn 63mm x 44mm - 2.5" x 1.75."

"Samsara" is a Sanskrit word for the concept of rebirth/reincarnation - the cycle of life. Thus the maple "helicopter" seeds, the object of renewal for one living thing.

Jim Kelso's background is as diverse as the work he does. He is a metalsmith, a jeweler, sculptor, engraver. . . but he does so much more than these things, not limiting himself to jewelry by any means. His work is in the collections of a number of very famous people, not the least of which are Sylvester Stallone, David Crosby and David Mamet. Their Imperial Highnesses, Prince and Princess Takamodo of Japan own his work, and his work is on display in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

If all of this weren't enough, he is one of those generous artists who shares his techniques with the world. His website features the Japanese patination and inlay techniques he uses to make his incredible work.

If you love Japanese art and metalwork, or if you just find gazing at beautiful art enjoyable (duh, who doesn't?), visit Jim Kelso's site and feast your eyes on his art. But take note of his extensive experience and dedication to continuing traditional Japanese theories and techniques as well. And enjoy.