Monday, December 22, 2014
Thanks to Vogue Gioiello — an Italian edition of Vogue that’s devoted to fine jewelry — for including my Victoria buckle ring in its December edition! My ring appeared on a page called “Belt Mania.”
I got a little emotional seeing this ring in print in light of Henry the dog’s passing last week. This ring was one of my earliest pieces of mechanical jewelry. Inspired by mourning jewelry, the ring opens up to reveal a place for an engraving. I created the first one in 2006 in memory of my old Pekingese, Mr. Chubbs. The photos on my website still show that original sample, with Chubbs’s name inside.
I didn’t have that sample ring for very long. Either in 2006 or early the next year, Lindsay Lohan bought it from a Los Angeles jewelry store called Kaviar & Kind (click here and scroll down to read the whole story). I’ve made buckle rings since then, but I’ve never made a new one for myself. I guess I should come up with a brand-new jewelry design to cover both Chubbs and Henry.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Since Henry the dog left us on Thursday morning, I have shared a lot of his photos on FitzRoy‘s Instagram account (FitzRoy has always been the spokescat for the dogs of the house). Here is a guide, as well as a few additional photos.
December 2014 photos and videos.
- A photo I took with Henry after I decided it was time to let him go.
- A partial list of the medicines that Henry was taking recently.
- Dementia made Henry pace in tiny circles for long periods of time (video).
- When Henry collapsed from the incessant pacing a week ago today, I knew I couldn’t make him go on (video).
- He Facetimed with his Aunt Terri to say goodbye. Other friends came by in person.
- He relaxed with Gigi the dog.
- On Wednesday, Dec. 17, I got him a hamburger from McDonald’s. He was sleeping soundly when I got home but when I put it down in front of him, he perked right up!
- We sat on the couch together later that night.
- Aunt Stacy came by and took this picture (from my personal Instagram).
- I saved half of the hamburger for Thursday’s breakfast. He was also eating cat food (video). He always loved to steal the cats’ kibble! (As his Aunt Stacy wrote on his Rainbow Bridge memorial guest book, “… simple things made you so happy — a short run down the hallway, a piece of cheese, a good snooze and a successful cat food robbery You sneaky little thing, you didn’t fool me with your ‘What?? Me?’ look.”) So that last day, I figured he was entitled to all the cat food he could consume.
- I’m glad I got this still shot while he was eating. Not just anyone can lick his own eyebrows, you know!
- This was his second-to-last walk that morning. I carried him in and out like this on every walk. I wound up giving Henry an extra walk that morning just as the vet arrived at our apartment because I had stuffed him with so much cat food, hamburger, turkey and ham.
- I had the vet come to our place so Henry wouldn’t have the stress of going to her office. The next day she dropped off this impression of his paw and a nice card.
- Steven River drew this beautiful portrait.
- My father took this picture of Henry right after I adopted him from the ASPCA. Henry is unusually smiley in this one. He usually had a more peevish expression, which is one of the reasons I named him after Henry VIII. This is a more typical look.
- Henry with my parents’ late Pekingese Molly on the same day as the above photo.
- Also taken right after his adoption.
- Another rare silly expression.
- Gigi the Tibetan spaniel has never been a fan of other dogs, but (most of the time) she made an exception for Henry. Here they are sharing a couch in 2006. Gigi is actually older than Henry, as far as we know. We were never 100% sure of his age, but she is definitely 13.
- I ultimately had to stop Henry from sitting on the furniture, because jumping down was bad for his back, but once in a while he would sneak back up there. In this photo, not only is he sitting on the couch — he’s on top of a large coffee-table book too.
- He always looked cute with a puppy cut. Here he is in 2007.
- In 2008, he was totally over this Prada bag.
Jennine’s photo and comments.
- My friend Jennine Jacobs took this beautiful photo of Henry and Gigi in 2009.
- I liked it so much she gave me a framed copy and now I’ve put some of Henry’s things on it.
- Jennine lived with us for several weeks that year and got to know Henry well. In the comments on my last post, she listed 10 favorite things about him. As you can see, his reputation for being sneaky went beyond Aunt Stacy.
1. He was a great ottoman
2. He was enthusiastic about his role as an ottoman
3. He was proud of his snaggletooth
4. He wore foot bandages with style and grace
5. He also wore bows without compromising his masculinity
6. He doted on Gigi without question
7. He was great at playing dumb
8. He was actually very sneaky
9. He always posed well for the camera
10. I’m not a HUGE fan of dogs, but this guy, he was basically a cat, which made him awesome.
Henry would do anything for food. He once unscrewed the top of a giant plastic storage container of dog food and tried to eat his way to the bottom. Fortunately, I walked by and saw his back legs sticking out the top and hauled him out before he ate himself to death. For most of this year, the pacing kept him so thin (he went from 16.5 lbs to 10.5 lbs) that he was able to eat as much as he wanted. He never lost interest in food, though sometimes I had to point him in the direction of the bowl.
Aunt Shawn will testify that Henry caused mischief in other ways.
Shawn had to pet sit for Henry and Gigi right after Henry came home from the ASPCA. Back then, we walked Henry and Gigi separately, because Gigi wasn’t too fond of other dogs and needed time to get to know her new brother. Poor Shawn walked and walked and walked with Henry and nothing happened. So she finally came back in and as she was unlocking the apartment door, she felt someone staring at her. When she looked down, Henry caught her eye and — still staring — lifted up his leg and very deliberately peed on the door. They had a serious discussion about behavior after this and reached an understanding. After that, they were good friends.
I hope I can find the video I took of Henry breaking out of confinement in the kitchen. That was a real triumph over his Aunt Stacy!
Eventually, even Gigi came to love Henry.
A few more recent photos.
- Last year, he got out one of his hair ribbons the minute he got home from the groomer, but he made up for it with a beautiful display of tongue.
- Here is a more recent hair-ribbon-and-tongue photo. That’s the ribbon that I’ve taped to the framed photo from Jennine.
- Just two days before the end. Sometimes you’d look at him and not be able to tell that anything was wrong.
- Last month, we had some extremely cold days that affected Henry badly. I spent an hour in a pet store, picking out the perfect coat for him. But, as with most previous coats, as soon as I put it on him, he forgot how to walk.
- He wasn’t much of a lap dog, really. When he was young, he’d sit next to someone on the couch for a photo but he wasn’t the type to cuddle all day. More recently, he’d sit in my lap for a long time. This was from November.
- This close-up from a week ago shows the blond eyelashes that I noticed the first time I saw him at the ASPCA.
- He loved his dog bed but stopped using it this year. This picture from August is probably one of the last photos I have of him in the bed. Even before then, he preferred the kitchen floor if it was warm in the apartment.
- Oh, Henry, you’re so silly.
UPDATED TO ADD: Here’s another comment that Aunt Stacy left on Facebook: “I’ve never met a doggie as unique as you. Clumsy and falling into a puddle one minute and, the next, a stealthy special ops spy stealing cat food. You were the most speshul baby!” And my friend Candice reminded me that Henry was a part of our very first conversation: “I met you on the Jitney from the Hamptons to New York, you were on your cell phone to the vet and apologized to me for being on your phone and explained that you had an emergency with Henry. I said I didn’t mind at all, and you were very careful to speak in a low voice so as not to disturb anyone. After your phone call, we talked about everything, your jewelry business and of course about Henry. As a fellow animal lover, I totally empathized with everything.”
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Last night, I grabbed my concert friend Jessie and we hustled to the front row of the Gramercy Theatre to see country rapper Yelawolf. Yelawolf is having a hot moment with his song “Till It’s Gone,” which was used in the second episode of the seventh (and final season) of Sons of Anarchy.
I’ve seen Alabama-born Yelawolf twice before but this concert took place in much better circumstances. The first show, in Brooklyn in 2012, was disrupted by a massive nor’easter. The second time I saw Yela was when he opened for Eminem at a small G-Shock-hosted show in 2013. That audience seemed kind of corporate, and unfamiliar with Yelawolf, and stayed pretty quiet. The peeps at Gramercy Theatre knew damn well who he was and got rowdy.
Jessie and I were glad to have the front-row fence to hang onto when people in back of us got pushy. The other advantage of being up front at a Yelawolf concert? You’ll get cooled down by the beer that he always throws into the crowd. That’s his thing, y’all. Don’t get too close if you’re uptight about a beer bath. This time, our position also gave us a good view of Yela’s three young children to the side of the stage, dancing around to songs like “I Wish” (with the lyrics “I wish a motherfucka would …”) and crystal-meth-mentioning “Billy Crystal.” Some dads’ jobs are more interesting than others.
My favorite thing about a Yelawolf concert is when he performs “Throw It Up,” which is the song he did with Eminem and — more importantly — my gorgeous rapper friend Gangsta Boo. I’m getting a little bitter that I’ve seen him perform three times with a recording of her vocals, and not Boo herself. I want to see Yela AND Boo live.
Speaking of Eminem, Yela spoke of him a lot. Yela is signed to Eminem’s Shady Records and is on the recently released Shady XV compilation album. He thanked Eminem for helping his career many times during the show, so if anyone is reporting back to Em, let him know sufficient gratitude has been expressed. Yelawolf did pull the stunt that every musician who has even shared an elevator with Eminem does: Point off-stage and say “Marshall Mathers!” like he’s going to come out. The entire audience was like, “Puh-leeze.” Yela said he guessed it was hard to fool New Yorkers, but audiences in other cities went wild. Again, puh-leeze.
The opening acts were both Southerners from Yela’s Slumerican music family. The main opener was Georgia-raised Rittz. He opened for Yela at the 2012 show and I missed his whole set because I was so delayed by the storm. He did come out and do one song with Yela during his set that time, and I liked that so much that I got his debut studio album, The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant, when it came out the following year. Now that I’ve seen Rittz’s full set, I loooooove him. I bought his new album, Next to Nothing, as soon as I got home. I happened to get my copy via iTunes, though Rittz urged the audience to get his album however they wanted, including illegal download “because I don’t make money from it anyway.” (That’s the truth for most non-megastar musicians these days and, really, that’s why you should pay for their work, you cheap assholes). I enjoyed Rittz’s personality and humor as much as his music. How can you not love a guy who put out a mixtape called White Jesus? I took this picture during what he called his “Beyonce moment,” with his hair being blown around by on-stage fans.
He had a great rapport in the audience. Everyone in the front row felt he looked right at them at some point — and he definitely gave the female twins who were front and center special attention.
He also made sure everyone was safe, stopping his performance to single out a trouble-making guy who was then removed by security. Jessie and I took a look at the guy as he was hauled off and said to each other, “What’s with his hair?” The guy had this really big, straight, severe part in his short dark hair. Rittz then entertained us all with his comments about the part. He also did impressions of Guns N’ Roses, country singers, you name it.
Here’s a short clip of Rittz in action last night …
… and this is an deep interview with him that was published just a few weeks after the 2012 concert.
Rapper Big Henry — from Alabama, like Yelawolf — performed before Rittz.
Follow Big Henry on Twitter here.
All in all, a great evening. In between acts, I entertained music-obsessed Jessie with stories of concerts I went to BEFORE SHE WAS BORN. (I sent her this link after the show, and she said, “Wow, that’s what tickets used to look like!”) Too bad I forgot to take a picture of her; I’ve been meaning to do that to prove to that she exists. Next concert!
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
One side of the ring shows the Manhattan skyline.
On the other side, the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. I like to say that this is one cab driver that won’t give you grief for going over the Brooklyn Bridge!
My favorite part is the rear view. Two tiny rubies serve as brake lights and “I Heart NY” is engraved on the bumper.
As with my other Maneater rings, there’s a little man hidden inside the shank of the ring. In this case, it’s an 18K-white-gold businessman, seen from behind with his briefcase in his hand, desperately trying to hail this cab.
I gave the definitive description of my Maneater ring collection when I wrote about the Bull and Bullfighter design in April.
The rings are inspired by my lifelong interest in powerful women. My signature Wendy Brandes jewelry line started with pieces that were named after real-life bad-ass women, including the warrior queen Xenobia and the 12th-century Empress Matilda. A lot of these strong women have been called “dragon lady” or “man eater” in pejorative ways. A tough man is just a guy doing his job, but there always has to be some kind of mean-sounding name for a tough woman, right? I got to thinking that some of these wimmins might have relished being called these names. I’m sure 7th-century Empress Wu would have been like, “Ha ha ha! Dragon lady! YOU’RE RIGHT!” before she executed the guy who spoke those words. Accordingly, each Maneater ring has a triumphant animal on top and a man tucked away inside the band.”
The NYC Taxi and Passenger was actually the fifth of the eight-ring series. The sixth ring – the Pink Elephant and Tipsy Writer — grabbed Jewel of the Month honors before this one, because the elephant received honorable mention at the AGTA Spectrum Awards in October.
As with the other Maneater rings, the various parts of the design were initially carved in wax and then cast in gold. In total, the 18K yellow and white gold in the ring weighs 23 grams (there are 31.1 grams in a troy ounce of gold). Usually the casting progress goes smoothly, but this time I had a little trouble getting the taxi just right. First the taxi was made too small. Then it was made larger, but both times in 18K rose gold. A yellow taxi in rose gold? No.
At least we were able to use the rose-gold taxi to do the layout for the gems, so I was able to order those and have them ready by the time the new, yellow-gold taxi came in.
When the yellow-gold version came in, the gem setter drilled holes for the stones.
I used 92 yellow diamonds totaling 0.59 carats; 92 white diamonds totaling 0.46 carats; and 130 black diamonds totaling 1.04 carats.
This summer, I took the ring to the big JCK jewelry trade show in Las Vegas even though it wasn’t quite finished. It didn’t have the engravings on the sides yet.
Everyone loved the ring and I started to wonder if adding the planned engravings was going to be “too much.” Then I remembered that when it comes to my luxury jewelry, too much detail is never enough! I came back to New York and did the engravings as originally planned. I’m so glad I did! The version without the engraving looks incomplete to me now.
Here’s a side view of the finished ring being worn.
Here’s another shot from above.
This is perfect as a holiday present for someone who loves New York City … and a gift-giver who has an unlimited budget, because this is definitely a luxury item. One size 6 is available for December 24 delivery. I refer to the Maneater rings as “limited edition” rather than one-of-a-kind designs because I will, of course, make a new ring for someone who is not a size 6. I don’t discriminate against differently sized fingers! All finger sizes are good. However, a custom order will take six to eight weeks to complete. Contact me now via info at wendybrandes dot com if you’re looking for a ring that will be ready by spring! I anticipate doing three of these rings — including this one — at the most, so regardless of your size, you’ll have a very rare piece of jewelry. I like to make my customers feel special!
Monday, December 15, 2014
This month, Pantone named “Marsala” as the color of the year for 2015, describing it as a “robust and earthy wine red.” As always, there was criticism of Pantone’s choice, but I like the color because it reminds me of garnets. This fall, I designed a garnet stud and ear jacket combo featuring FitzRoy the cat, and I’m thrilled that the piece was included in National Jeweler’s list of Marsala jewels for 2015. You’ve already had a sneak peek of the design thanks to Hannah Becker of Diamond Doodles — here is a closer look.
The first pair was sold right after the sneak peek, but I will have at least one other pair available for delivery early next month — and don’t forget, garnet is January’s birthstone! I will also do all other birthstones, so if you want to pre-order one of those ahead of time for the cat-loving woman in your life, holla at me at info at wendybrandes dot com. As a bonus, the birthstone studs look lovely on their own. Prices will vary depending on the type of gem used.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week.
- Monday: Gorgeous customers modeling their jewelry purchases.
- Tuesday: My mother’s new-old opal pendant.
- Wednesday: What I wore to the amazing PRhyme concert.
- Thursday: Sarah Jessica Parker on Broadway … in 1979.
Thanks to Becky from Diamonds in the Library for including me in multiple jewelry-related gift lists. I really like how she broke it down by budget. Becky had already included my barbed-wire rings in silver in the $200 – $350 category. This week, she included my gold IDGAF necklace in the $500 – $1,000 category, to the distress of at least one gentle reader. Ha! My response is in the necklace, silly. For people looking for a more artistic piece from my luxury line, my Marie Antoinette ring and earrings are in the unlimited budget category.
If you’re looking for a bargain, check out my holiday sale here. And keep checking back, because as designs sell out, I’m adding new ones. The sale will continue till December 30, so those of you who gave the wrong gift have a chance to redeem yourselves … and the rest of you have a chance to treat yourselves. On New Year’s Eve, all items will return to full price. I only have one of many designs, so buy as soon as possible, before you lose a great piece to someone else! It’s already happened a couple of times.
By the way, The Jewellery Editor did a gift list of fine jewelry for the animal lover. I love how Rachel Garrahan described my Cleves ring:
“While we can’t give you Seven Swans a Swimming for Christmas, we can offer two perfectly matched swans in Wendy Brandes’ elegant Cleves ring, as inspired by Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, who was born in Schwanenburg, or Swan Castle.”
The ring featured is my 18K gold Cleves ring with diamonds, but if that’s beyond your budget, my silver version is on sale. I have only one available in size 6 … but this design fits snugly, so a 5.5 could wear it.
After this Cleves ring is sold, I won’t make any others in silver for my inventory. It will be by special request only, which means it will never go on sale again. It’s now or never, y’all! To see how it looks on, click here.
To learn more about Anne of Cleves, the inspiration for the ring, click here. I will prove to you that Anne was a damn genius. To see how the original gold ring was made, via a technique called lost-wax casting, click here.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
MrB and I went to a screening of the new movie adaptation of Annie last night. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) makes an adorable Annie and Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks, the updated version of Daddy Warbucks. I enjoyed watching a little boy next to me literally sitting on the edge of his seat during the dramatic moments.
I first saw Annie on Broadway in 1979 — I believe it was my first Broadway play — and it just so happens that my gorgeous sister keeps all her Broadway Playbills. After the movie screening, I emailed an urgent request for photos of the Annie Playbill.
This is a special souvenir because look who played Annie: 14-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker!
According to SJP’s Playbill bio, she already had an impressive resume.
Big thanks to Terri Berry for saving this all of these years!
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
When I read that rapper Royce da 5’9″ was getting together with DJ Premier to put out a hip-hop album under the name PRhyme, I thought, “I’ll get that album.” When I saw that they were selling tickets to an album-release party at Santos Party House in New York this Monday, I thought, “I’ll go to that party!” So I rounded up my always-reliable concert friend Jessie (veteran of the Monster Tour, Global Citizen Festival, FKA twigs and Run the Jewels) and off we went.
I’m going to take a picture of Jessie at our next concert so I can prove she’s real. I swear she is not an imaginary friend. It just so happened that she got there after the pre-show meet-and-greet with Royce and Premier and that’s why I’m all alone with the guys in this photo, looking a little goofy.
I feel silly at photo ops — and that experience with Bill Clinton was especially traumatic — so it helps to have a pal along, like I did the last time I met Royce. At least Jessie arrived in time to position herself at the front of the stage with me. There was no barricade between the stage and the audience so we could reach up and shake hands with the performers as they came by. Here’s Royce da 5’9″ doing a bit of PRhyme’s song, “To Me, To You.”
The show was full of special guests. When The LOX came out, including Jadakiss, Jessie got so excited that she gave my arm a squeeze. I got all worked up when Royce’s three Slaughterhouse bandmates came out: Joe Budden, Kxng Crooked and Joell Ortiz. The whole group is on Eminem’s Shady XV compilation album, and I feel like I’m best friends with Kxng Crooked ever since he re-Instagrammed this boobalicious photo of me featuring my Shady XV necklaces.
You can get the PRhyme album on iTunes now, and catch the duo on their North American tour. Dates are listed in this Billboard interview. I’m tempted to go see them at the Highline Ballroom in New York in February, but I’m hesitating because how could it possibly equal this week’s experience?
I have no idea why I wore my sequin skirt from Patricia Field to this show. For concerts, I’m strictly about jeans in the winter and shorts in the summer … and it was cold out that night. But it worked out well because when I went into Santos, I was handed a CD to be signed by Royce and Premier (Premier is holding it in the first photo in this post); a poster to be signed (I gave that to Jessie); and a size large PRhyme t-shirt. I had a tiny bag and didn’t know where to put everything, so I put the t-shirt on over my sweater. It turned out to be a good look!
What Wendy Wore
T-shirt: PRhyme (2014)
Sweater: Nordstrom’s private label (1990s)
Skirt: Patricia Field (2014, previously seen here)
Boots: Jil Sander (pre-2005, previously seen here)
Tights: Random. Who knows where tights come from?
Before the show started, while I was standing near the bar and struggling to tie a knot in the t-shirt (so ’80s!), a dude walked by and said, “That outfit’s killing it!” Still, I think I’ll go back to jeans for future shows.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
My gorgeous mother BarbaraB inherited an old opal-and-diamond pendant. Normally, I’d redesign something like this, but opals are very soft and it’s not always a good idea to disturb them. Instead, I got her a 21″ chain so the pendant would hit her in the right spot.
Pretty, isn’t it?