Sunday, June 9, 2013
We’ve got our Prosecco and snacks ready for the Game of Thrones season finale. How about you?
Last May, Julie Gerstein of the Frisky blogged about how some of my jewelry designs were Game of Thrones-worthy.
Back then, I had dragons, wolves, skulls and swords. Now, if you’re a fan of Jaime Lannister, you can get some hand jewelry from me too!
By the way, my hand will be up in your face just like that if I ever hear y’all complain about television spoilers. I missed last week’s big Game of Thrones episode and didn’t get to see it till today. By being careful with social media, I remained unspoiled. I had to do it with the finale of Spartacus too; it’s all about averting your eyes at the right moment.
Those of you on the East Coast can kill some time before the show by taking a quick peek at what I had on the blog this past week or so. Those of you on the West Coast should read every word of these posts and comment at length on each one so that you keep your damn eyes off Twitter and don’t get SPOILED for the show. No whining allowed!
- Saturday, June 1: My latest design is the Jonah and whale “Maneater” ring.
- Sunday: RIP Jean Stapleton, who was no Edith Bunker in real life.
- Monday: Jewelry, a shark, a bodybuilder and Maroon 5 at JCK Las Vegas.
- Tuesday: Fashion face-off between Lady Gaga and Pudge the cat.
- Thursday: Throwback to 1984 buffalo plaid.
- Friday: Recent press and blog mentions.
- Saturday: Susanna from Jewel Box Dreams is the customer of the day.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
More recently, she acquired my bunny stud earrings in sterling silver. You can buy those (or their 18K-gold siblings) singly …
… or in pairs.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, pairs of bunnies make me think of a Visa Check Card commercial from about 10 years ago in which two pet store bunnies multiplied at an alarming rate to the tune of “Love Is in the Air” while a would-be purchaser tried to pay for them by check.
Sure enough, as soon as Susanna received her earrings …
… she had three bunnies on her hands. But don’t worry! The earrings didn’t get up to any mischief. Susanna already had a pet bunny named Tank. She got the earrings to match him.
I love a cuddly pet so I had to ask Susanna all about Tank, who was adopted from a shelter. She said:
“I’m not sure how old Tank is in bunny years (or even human years), but he definitely qualifies for the bunny AARP because this fall will mark his 10-year adoption anniversary, and he was full grown when I got him. My mom jokes that we should all adopt the Tank diet (lots of cabbage and fruit peels, with garnishes of rabbit pellets and Timothy hay) and we’ll live to be 110. His favorite activities are sneaking into the fireplace to take an ash bath and just generally make a mess, sunning himself on the rug and, of course, eating. I think he’s his cutest when he does The Peter Rabbit and sits up on his hind legs and looks around curiously. He also has very definite ideas about housekeeping — if I try to rearrange his cage he will violently fling things back into place.”
As for bunnies in general, Susanna said:
“Rabbits actually make great pets. Before I got Tank the only exposure I had to bunnies was a class rabbit in elementary school that was basically a furry blob. (Now I realize it was probably traumatized from living in a small cage all the time and having small children poking it.) But they have distinct personalities and are very communicative. Contrary to what we all learned in nursery school, rabbits do make noise (mostly a muted clicking sound when they are excited), and they have a happy dance that involves hopping and leaping in circles. They’ll also flick you off with their hind legs when annoyed. Rabbits aren’t slavishly devoted like a dog, but not as standoffish as a cat. They can be completely litter-boxed trained — I wish I could take credit for Tank’s training but he arrived from the shelter like that. They are fairly low maintenance, about on par with a cat. It is important that a rabbit have enough room to roam — please don’t get a rabbit expecting to keep it confined in its cage all the time.”
If you’d like a live bunny of your own (as opposed to an earring bunny), Susanna recommends that you adopt one from your local chapter of the House Rabbit Society/or local animal shelter. I noticed today that my local Petco was having a bunny adoption, along with a cat adoption. I was focused on getting in and out with my bag of kitty litter, so I didn’t browse the bunnies in the back of the store but I did take a look at the kittehs in the front and was amused to see that three out of 10 were snoozing in their litter boxes. There’s no accounting for taste, I guess.
On that note, I must acknowledge that not everybunny loves bunnies as much as me and Susanna. My fellow Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans can join me in singing Anya the demon’s lines from the musical episode, “Once More, With Feeling.” (Click the lyrics for the music.)
“Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes
They’ve got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses.
And what’s with all the carrots?
What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
Bunnies, bunnies, it must be BUNNIES!”
And who can talk about the evil that bunnies do without re-watching the killer rabbit scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?
I bet Tank is watching this while nodding and saying, “That’s right, bitches. You BETTER run!”
Friday, June 7, 2013
I’ve got to thank a bunch of people for sending love my way lately. First, thanks to gorgeous client Beverly for alerting me to an item on my emoji earrings in the Vancouver Sun. She even scanned it for me. How thoughtful!
The item originated only with The Kit, which wrote about my swear rings, IDGAF necklace and emoji earrings in May. The Kit is a division of Toronto Star Newspapers, and some of its content ends up in inserts in the print versions of various Canadian newspapers. I’ve always had a lot of Canadian customers and I’m excited to get some more due to this piece. Note to Canadians: Feel free to email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com to discuss shipping options.
I’m also honored that Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers in Houston included me on its list of five best jewelry blogs. Thanks, Jonathan’s!
I’ve popped up in the photos that Brittany Siminitz, JCK Marketplace Manager, blogged from the JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show. Check out her post here. Barbara Palumbo, another of the wimmins I hung out with in Vegas, wrote a blog post here, and you must see her abs in the bikini shot! I’ve been inspired to work out harder. I did my own post on JCK on Monday with pictures of all the ladies. I don’t have any bikini photos, but I do have a body builder and a shark!
UPDATED TO ADD: JCK attendee Erika Winters of PriceScope — who bought my IDGAF necklace right off my neck while we waited to hear Maroon 5 — sent me an amazing photo of the piece.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
In 2010, when I wrote a list of ’80s fashions that I still love, I said that buffalo plaid didn’t make the cut, despite my 1983-1984 enthusiasm for an oversize blue/black buffalo plaid top that I wore with a black pistol belt from Canal Jean Co. I recently found a photo of the shirt in question. It was such a favorite that i wore it for my high-school yearbook photo in 1984.
As I like to say, Never Is the Next New Thing™ so it’s entirely possible that I will eventually change my buffalo stance, but that hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, here’s something I never noticed before: the DJ at the beginning of Neneh Cherry’s 1988 song “Buffalo Stance” is wearing buffalo plaid.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
I’m written a bunch of looooong posts lately, so rather than add to your reading list, I’ll give you a chance to catch up on what’s been on the blog lately.
- June’s Jewel of the Month is the diamond, sapphire and tsavorite Jonah and the Whale Maneater ring. See the steps involved in making this wearable piece of art and learn about the inspiration. Also, of course, I refer to Family Guy. When do I not refer to Family Guy?
- A farewell to actress Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker on All in the Family. When she wasn’t on television, Stapleton did a lot of live theater. Last night, Broadway dimmed its lights in her memory. Some great clips in this post. While you’re watching them, consider looking up the All in the Family episode about Edith’s reaction to an attempted rape. Stellar writing, stellar acting and, yes, there are funny moments.
- What I wore, and did, at the JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show. Featuring sharks, bodybuilders, and ladies who got all wet over Maroon 5′s Adam Levine.
- OMG IT’S A CUTE KITTEH!
See you tomorrow!
Monday, June 3, 2013
I’ve had a great time at JCK Las Vegas, the ginormous jewelry trade show. Friday night was all about drinks at the Wynn hotel with a group of lovely jewelry ladies, organized by the fabulous Shamila Jiwa. I wore a lot of my designs, including the Empress Wu dragon ring …
… and here is Brittany Siminitz of JCKmarketplace.
I never got pictures with Cheryl Kremkow, Monica Stephenson of iDazzle, Barbara Palumbo, or Shamila. I blame the frog and all the other weird stuff that arose from the lake for distracting us from our paparazzi activities.
Several of the ladies turned up to support me and Cheryl the following day, when we gave our talk on “The Next Generation Customer, Who Are They and How Do We Sell to Them.” The only reason I was at the show at all was because Cheryl graciously invited me to do that presentation with her. Cheryl blew everyone away with her lively and humorous talk on Millennials. She had great data AND pictures of chihuahuas in t-shirts. That, my friends, is a winning combination. Remember that for the next time you need to do any public speaking. Chihuahuas in t-shirts for the win. Cheryl also had a snappy way to describe the demand for customer service with TLC: “Warm is cool.” I spoke about how the smartphone and tablet generation — meaning the kids who have been born post-iPhone and -iPad — are going to smash through old ways of interacting online as dramatically as the female athlete in the iconic 1984 Apple Superbowl ad for its personal computers.
I also quoted my favorite line from Ghostbusters and shared pictures of Henry and Gigi the dogs and FitzRoy the cat. Unfortunately, none of the pets were wearing t-shirts, so they couldn’t compete with Cheryl’s chihuahuas.
For this event, I wore a Balenciaga dress that I got in 2010. I had worn it when MrB received his honorary doctorate, but I didn’t get a proper picture of it. You get a glimpse of it in this post. I planned to take a serious outfit photo of it this time but I never got around to it; once again, you can see just a bit of the dress in this photo Shamila snapped of us taking questions from our audience. I swear that I’m not sleeping — just carefully considering the issue at hand!
I had dinner that night at my hotel — the Mandalay Bay, where the JCK show was being held — with my jeweler friend Maurice; his wife, Maria; Maria’s brother; and another Maria that Maria #1 befriended by the pool that day. Maria #2 is from Spain. She’s the mother of four boys, but she has no problem keeping them all in line because she’s a professional bodybuilder. She was in Vegas for a real photoshoot, but we conducted an informal shoot of our own after we ate. This might be one of my favorite photos evah. A small crowd gathered to watch us take it.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Castelbajac (2009)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Purse on floor: Louis Vuitton (2001)
After we flexed our arms, Maria #2 informed us that we needed to flex our leg muscles next. After looking at Maria #2′s eye-popping thighs, Maria #1 exclaimed, “We don’t have those muscles!”
Maria #2 was so adorable. I nearly hugged her to death. People’s eyes were on her wherever she went. A person has to be really committed to her passion to put up with that kind of scrutiny, and I admire that.
On Sunday, I finally got to explore the JCK trade show itself. I admired some large gems, but I managed to tear myself away without buying any. My design process doesn’t normally start with a big, beautiful gem, meaning that I don’t buy a stone and say, “This is stunning. Let me create something around it.” I start with a story I want to tell, then come up with a concept for the metal, and only then do I get gems to fit that design. My Marie Antoinette ring is a good example of that. I knew I wanted to tell Marie Antoinette’s story. I knew the piece had to be in the royal colors of purple and green, but I didn’t go looking for an amethyst to buy. First, I decided how the gold setting would best symbolize the thorny situation that the Austrian princess inherited when she was shipped off to be the queen of France. Once that was figured out, I had a 27.64-carat amethyst custom-cut to fit the setting. Every so often, I make an exception because I’m unable to resist a particular gem, but I feel that the designs I do as a result don’t fit my collection the way they should. Still, I can’t stop thinking about a 5-carat violet spinel that really wanted to come home with me.
On a whim, I abandoned the jewelry for a little while in order to investigate the Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium. I kept walking past signs for it and decided I would regret missing out on the sharks. At the entrance, lively staff members quickly organized families and couples for souvenir photos. Because I was alone, I briefly considered dodging that due to the embarrassment factor, but then the IDGAF necklace that I was wearing had its usual effect on me and I thought, “Who cares if I look foolish? I love tourist photos!” Thank goodness I came to my senses, because I’m sure MrB will want to frame this masterpiece.
I kept the white jeans but changed into another Tate Modern gift shop t-shirt for a Maroon 5 concert thrown by JCK that night. The Mandalay Bay has a huge wave pool called Mandalay Beach, complete with sand. The hotel hosts concerts there and while the artist or band plays, you get to stand in the pool and get hit by waves.
I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Now I only want to attend concerts if I get to watch from a pool, complete with attractive lifeguards. I don’t care if I’m going to Carnegie Hall. Someone better get some chlorinated water in there or I’m going to be angry. I’d also like it if Erika and Shamila could attend all the watery concerts with me, because they’re good company.
What Wendy Wore
T-shirt: Roy Lichtenstein top from the Tate Modern gift shop (2013)
Purse: Prada (2008)
Unseen shoes in tote bag: Prada wedges
Here’s my best photo of Maroon 5 lead singer (and The Voice judge) Adam Levine.
I was going to post my video of Levine singing his hit, “Moves Like Jagger,” but it shows a lot of innocent bystanders who are not moving quite as impressively as Mick Jagger. They probably don’t want to see themselves on YouTube, so you’ll have to use your imagination.
Before the concert, a bunch of us gathered in JCK’s beach cabana.
If you enlarge the photo and look closely, you can see that Erika (second from left) is wearing my IDGAF necklace in gold. Not just any IDGAF necklace from my inventory, but the very one I was wearing when I took the shark picture earlier in the day. Erika suddenly realized she needed jewelry with attitude, so I took that necklace off my neck and put it on hers. Sometimes, when you need to not give a fuck, you need to not give it right away! Erika, enjoy your new necklace! I hope it not only inspires you to take many silly tourist photos, but also emboldens you enough to chat with Vogue editor Anna Wintour should you corner her in an elevator. It worked that way for me!
UPDATED TO ADD: I added a link to this post to Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday roundup. Click here to see what all the Visible ladies are wearing.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Actress Jean Stapleton, best known for playing Edith Bunker on the iconic ’70s television show All in the Family, died yesterday at age 90.
Back in February, I described how much that show affected me.
I admired Stapleton for refusing to play an Edith Bunker type for the rest of her career. This Washington Post obituary is well worth reading for some insight into her personality. For instance, in 1972, a year after All in the Family went on the air, she made it clear that Edith was a character to play — not a PART of her — when she told the New York Times:
“What Edith represents is the housewife who is still in bondage to the male figure, very submissive and restricted to the home. She is very naive, and she kind of thinks through a mist, and she lacks the education to expand her world. I would hope that most housewives are not like that.”
Compare that to Zooey Deschanel, who strikes me as too smart to be putting on an “adorkable” persona even outside of her show, New Girl. These days, I’m sure living your character makes the job of one’s brand managers/publicists/agents so much easier, but, really, is that your goal in life? To simplify the work for people who make money off you? Please! Stapleton didn’t play that game. The Post obit has a quote from a 1979 interview Stapleton did with the AP, shortly before the character of Edith Bunker was killed off in Archie Bunker’s Place, the successor show to All in the Family.
“My decision is to go out into the world and do something else. I’m not constituted as an actress to remain in the same role…. My identity as an actress is in jeopardy if I invested my entire career in Edith Bunker.”
And check out Stapleton’s last television appearance with Carroll O’Connor, who played Edith’s husband Archie Bunker, in 2000. She was brought out as a surprise to O’Connor. When she came out, she reorganized all the seating. Then she praised O’Connor’s new movie, giving him her highest compliment by emphasizing how different his work was from his All in the Family role — “the mark of a fine actor,” she said. Then, at 4:45, when the hosts of the show asked both actors to do their All in the Family voices, she instantly said, “No.” When they persisted, she said, “In the first place, I only do it for pay … secondly, one does not go back …” A sharp, funny, tough lady!
The character of Edith Bunker died offscreen during Archie Bunker’s Place. The episode “Archie Alone” explained her death and showed Archie grieving. I think the final few minutes of that episode are a fitting send-off for Jean Stapleton, a woman who wouldn’t stifle herself.
Oh, fuck it. That’s too sad. Let’s watch the final minutes of the last episode of All in the Family,”Too Good Edith,” in which Edith hides a painful case of phlebitis from Archie while helping him prepare for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities at his bar. Archie, shaken by her illness, declares his love.
And we must sing the theme song together one more time. Remember, the difficult line is “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great“!
Here’s what was on the blog this week:
- Tuesday: Happy hour with Jorge.
- Wednesday: Disco queen Amanda Lear rips off her pants.
- Thursday: Throwback to a single earring and the famous turquoise motorcycle jacket.
- Friday: Orange gems at JCK and the highlarious hijinks of murderous Queen Edburga.
- Saturday: June’s Jewel of the Month is the Jonah and the Whale Maneater Ring.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
I introduced my “Maneater” collection in January with my Frog and Prince ring. For that design, I created an 18K-rose-gold frog perched on an 18K-yellow-gold branch …
… and I hid an 18K-white-gold prince inside the band. I’m all about secret details and covert luxury.
When I unveiled the frog ring on the blog, I mentioned that I had wax models finished for the next two rings in the series. The first of those is June’s Jewel of the Month: my Jonah and the Whale ring. This was almost a Moby-Dick and Captain Ahab ring because I made the whale in 18K white gold and Herman Melville’s fictional Moby-Dick was a white whale. But I thought a tiny, peg-legged Captain Ahab might look too much like Seamus, the mostly wooden fisherman from Family Guy. That would be highlarious to me, but I’ve sworn not to do Family Guy jewelry.
Besides, Moby-Dick only bit off the lower part of Ahab’s leg, and, for a Maneater ring, why not go with the fellow who was swallowed whole?
I took some photos of the work in progress. This one shows the 18K-white-gold whale and 18K-white-gold Jonah (who is curled into the fetal position in the whale’s stomach) with the wax model of the rest of the ring. As you can see, the ring was made in four parts: the whale; Jonah; the heavily carved shank (band) of the ring; and an interior portion in which Jonah could be embedded. Each piece had to be polished and set with gems separately. Something this detailed could never be made out of one big lump of metal, even if I didn’t use different colors of gold.
The whale was eventually set with diamonds and given two tsavorite eyes. Tsavorite is a green garnet and one of my favorite gems.
The final result depicts the diamond whale surging through a sapphire sea.
Like a lot of my rings, this one has a surprising heft to it. It’s made with 26.1 grams of gold. To get a better sense of what that means, consider this: a plain 2-millimeter-wide woman’s gold wedding band might weigh around 2 grams, while there are 31.1 grams in an ounce of gold. A weighty ring is another symbol of covert luxury to me — no one can appreciate its true value unless she is wearing it. Using a lot of gold is especially luxurious now because the price of gold is very high (though below its recent record) and many designers are using less of it to keep costs down. I figure that because I’m a small business with no economies of scale, rock-bottom prices are never going to be the No. 1 reason people buy my jewelry. So, as Toys R Us discovered in a very different market, if your products aren’t going to be inexpensive, they should be very special — something you can’t find anywhere else. In my case, as a bonus, you’ll know that my work will ALWAYS have resale value. That’s the nature of gold.
Here’s another view of the whale swimming along. There are 86 points of sapphires in the “ocean” (there are 100 points in a carat). The diamonds add up to about half a carat, and there are four points of tsavorites.
In addition to the diamonds set on the whale, there is a teeny-tiny diamond set in Jonah’s eye. You have to look very, very closely to see it.
Most of the designs in my luxury Wendy Brandes jewelry line are inspired by powerful women. (The social-media-inspired jewelry is from my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes diffusion line.) I’m enjoying the way this collection complements my larger theme because of the double meaning of man-eater. A man-eater is an animal that consumes a human in one way or another — the whale actually swallows Jonah whole, while the frog obliterates the prince’s identity. Man-eater is also used, often pejoratively, to describe a woman who is threatening or dangerous to men. A lot of the royal women for whom I’ve named designs probably were described similarly, and I like to think they weren’t even insulted by it. If you called bad-ass Empress Wu or poison-expert Catherine de Medici a man-eater, she would probably be like, “Yeah, and your point is?” … right before she killed you.
I’ve made only one whale ring. It is size 6 and the price is available upon request. I can make another in a different size, but no two “Maneater” rings will be exactly the same when it comes to the gems. If you think you’re ready to splurge on a piece of museum-quality wearable art, email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com for more information.
Friday, May 31, 2013
If you want to be first to flaunt jewels in a citrus-y shade, check out my Edburga poison ring set with a vivid fire opal cabochon.
The fire opal is set in an 18K-yellow-gold bezel. The body of the ring is blackened sterling silver. With regular wear, the blackened finish wears off, exposing the regular silver underneath. I think this evolution makes the ring more beautiful and the piece is best suited for people who agree, because there ain’t no stopping the process!
I’ve only made one of my Edburga rings with fire opal, so if you get this you’ll have a one-of-a-kind piece.
The Anglo-Saxon queen Edburga is one of my more highlarious royal-lady jewelry inspirations. In the late 700s, she helped her kingly husband out by poisoning his enemies. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and she poisoned hubby himself. Whoops! She hightailed it out of town and wound up in the court of Charlemagne, who was quite taken with her. He offered her a choice for her next spouse: himself or his son. She picked the son. Oh, Edburga! That was the wrong answer! Charlemagne sent her to a convent as punishment. At the convent, she hooked up with a new boyfriend — according to some versions of the tale, she got pregnant — so she was kicked to the curb again. I think her theme song should be Pink’s “Trouble”:
Yeah trouble now
I’m trouble y’all
I got trouble in my town”
If you’re going to JCK Las Vegas, come see me! I don’t have a booth, but I’m part of the educational program. On Saturday, June 1, the gorgeous jewelry expert Cheryl Kremkow and I will be speaking about “The Next Generation Customer, Who Are They and How Do We Sell to Them.” Come see us from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. in the Tradewinds EF meeting room in the Mandalay Bay hotel! I have a photo of FitzRoy the cat in my PowerPoint presentation. I’m sure you don’t want to miss that!