Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stand out in the leather and pleather crowd

We've just ordered our Fall 2007 selections from Maruca's line of tapestry handbags, and expect the order mid-September.

Why does Maruca Design continue to be so popular? Because in a sea of leather and pleather purses, there remains a devout customer with whom we share a common thread: an appreciation and passion for fabulous textiles.

They are recognized for their custom-designed fabrics, fashion-conscious shapes and commitment to making bags by hand in Boulder, Colorado.

We hope you are inspired by their colorful world. Here are the season's fabric swatches:

We're especially excited about two new designs Maruca is offering. The "Metro" is a courier-style bag (see above) with a broad adjustable woven strap and big flap with pockets for pens, phone, glasses, etc. The "Soho" is large enough for daily use, but small enough to make a statement with a single strap — short enough to hand carry, and just long enough to fit over your shoulder. We love the two exterior pockets — one for your cell, the other for your keys.

Check out their website to your selection at Then call Gallery Fifty and make your order: 231-932-0775. We'll offer free shipping on any order over $75.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The odd, the old and the beautiful

The power of opposites is the basis of Michigan artist Julie Pearson's work. Finding the balance between order and disorder, old and new, simple and ornate, delicate and rustic is the never-ending challenge that continues to beckon her.

Two passions dominate the artist's creativity: the need to experiment with creative processes and the love of collecting the odd, the old and the beautiful. She has found the format of assemblage to be the most satisfying method of combining these elements into something through which she can express herself.

To begin, Julie allows emotion, imagination or curiosity to inspire... the intuitive process then takes on a life of its own. This particular experience is the very reason the she sees herself creating in this way for the rest of her life.

See more of her work on Gallery Fifty's web site:

Note: After nearly a year of coveting 'My Understanding,' I'm finally treating myself to this incredible piece (above). The text reads, "in the space between birth and death, all that really matters is love..."

Modern and easy to wear

Michigan jewelry artist Kristin Perkins has been drawn to the pure and natural beauty of glass all her life. Her jewelry is among the most contemporary that I have seen. While the colors make them fun to wear, the geometric glass shapes or silver shapes that she uses to accent them make them very modern and easy to wear.

Kristin makes each of her distinctive glass beads using a process called lampworking. Lampworking is an ancient term referring to melting glass and forming beads and other small glass sculptures by oil lamp. Glass bead makers now use a special torch to melt the glass, but the term lampworking continues to be used today for this type of art.

To make her beads, Kristin uses colorful rods of glass and heat them with my torch, which is fueled by natural gas and an oxygen generating machine. When the glass becomes molten, she winds it around a steel rod that has been coated with a clay-like mixture that will later allow her to remove the bead from the steel rod.

Kristin shapes beads by evenly applying the glass to the steel rod, keeping the molten glass constantly turning, and allowing gravity to do most of the work. What is not achieved by gravity can be done by using graphite and steel tools to attain the desired shape. Rods of glass in other colors are used to decorate the surface of the bead. Once the bead is complete, she properly anneals it in a kiln. Annealing is critical to the glass bead making process because it allows it to cool down slowly, which removes stress in the glass that could cause it to crack.

As a jewelry designer, she considers her lampworked beads very special because each bead is created with an end use in mind. Kristin is a trained silversmith, so she has the advantage of customizing each piece exactly as she envisions. What further differentiates her work from other lampworkers is the use of clear or transparent glass in every piece so that the fascinating properties of glass become the focus.

Her prices are extremely reasonable: $34 - $50 for earrings; $56 - $95 for pendants; $95 for cuff links. Contact Gallery Fifty for our current selection: 231-932-0775.