Jeweler’s Row

Jeweler’s Row is a Philadelphia treasure the future of which is being threatened by potential unbridled development.   Jeweler’s Row, located on the 700 block of Sansom Street, was not always the seat of the Philadelphia jewelry industry, having been home to the printing and engraving trades before morphing into a jewelry district around the  1880’s.   Many jewelry store proprietors from the Delaware valley and South Jersey made weekly trips to Jeweler’s Row to drop off and collect repair jobs, replenish their stock and to meet with their fellow jewelers to talk business.

A developer sold a brace of buildings to Toll Brothers Builders in 2017 and Toll Brothers got permission to tear down the buildings to erect a high-rise apartment building.  There was plenty of opposition from the neighborhood and community groups but in the end it didn’t matter.

Last week, I got to tour 708 Sansom Street which is one of the buildings slated to be demolished.  It is a cavernous four-story building with tin ceilings and ornate hardware.  As I walked from floor to floor, I could see that the tenants, the majority of whom were manufacturing jewelers,  were in the process of moving their equipment out of the building and finding new space for their businesses and studios.

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I imagine that 708 Sansom Street supported many families over the years and that its tenants were a close-knit bunch.  Now it is like a ghost town.

89101114Most of the former tenants have found new space but it has not been easy.  Many of them have had to relocate away from Sansom Street.  715

While it’s true that the only constant in life is change, and that the face of the jewelry business is changing, there is still room for places like Jeweler’s Row.  These business districts and manufacturing centers still serve a purpose.  But then again, you never really miss something until it’s gone.

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Happy New Year!

 

This is the best old Mummers video I have seen to date.  It’s from 1930 but it looks contemporary.

From the website:  Old film of a New Years Day Parade in Philadelphia, USA on January 1, 1930. This is raw footage from the early Movietone sound cameras. This footage is particularly neat because most parades of the time were captured from a far distance. Worked on footage and sound a bit. Amazing!”   

I agree!

 

And do check out Guy Jones’ channel on YouTube for more incredible videos.

For more Mummers posts from this site, press here.

 

The Art of Steel in Kensington

I wrote last week about Wayne Cambern’s show at the Boston Street Gallery.   While I was there,  I got a tour of the building that houses the gallery and met the owners, Jeff Harris and his wife Maria who are artists themselves.

Jeff works in  wood and steel stock.  His massive sculptures fill half the gallery and his studio and workshop are in the rear.    The building itself has an interesting history.   Built in the 1880’s, it housed a coffee roasting factory that supplied the US armed forces during both world wars.  Kensington used to be full of factories  Now, many of those former factories are finding new lives as art galleries and artist studios.

Jeff started out as a photographer but soon moved on to other mediums.    He told me that his first love was wood and he still works with the material.  But he found it too limiting for what he wanted to do, so  he started working with steel stock.

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Steel Stock

When I saw Jeff’s work I assumed that I’d find torches in his workshop.  How else could he get those bends and shapes?

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The answer?  A big vise and some simple tools.  No heat except to weld pieces together.

 

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Jeff’s vise

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Jeff and Maria also give painting classes on the second floor of the building although they are more for fun that for “serious” art.  For more information, go to the web site, to http://www.artwithspirits.com.

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Take some time to visit the Boston Street Gallery And for updates, follow the Twitter Feed

Say it with Flowers

I had intended to write this week’s post about Beading Yoda’s lovely beaded flowers.   But that will have to wait.

What a week this has been.   Boris is almost recovered from the Benjimonster and is much less stressed.  I cannot say the same for myself.  It all started so innocently.  My health insurance company decided to give its customers a discount on their premiums if they enrolled in a program called Active Health to learn about healthy habits,  adiet, exercise, and so on.  You get points for each module you complete. Collect 100 points and you get your discount.   Easy, right?  Wrongo Bongo!

I logged onto the program’s website and managed to enroll after numerous calls to customer service to learn how to navigate a website obviously designed by Dr. Mengels.

In the weeks that followed, I duly entered my blood pressure, my cholesterol,  completed questionnaires, and studied health topics.  As I completed each module, I was awarded a certain number of points.  I was on my way to my discount.

Nor so fast.

Yesterday, I foolishly downloaded the Active Health iPad app for the program and completed more tasks.  As I tracked my progress, I noted the app was not saving anything.  And there was no option for me to save. I tried to contact customer service online.  There was a place to write a message but no way to send the message.  So, I called customer service.

I was referred to another number.  Then a third number.  Then I spent almost an hour  with a service rep who tried to guide me through the website.  But, as I repeatedly reminded her, I was using the app, not the website.   Alas,  she could neither help me nor refer me to someone who could.  “And yet,” as the saying goes, “she  persisted.”  As I hung up I wondered where she got her stamina.

Later that evening, I decided to try again on the website instead of the app.  I ran into the same problem.   I called customer service again.  As the conversation with a different rep wore on, I realized that he knew that the website did not work,and that tech support was non existant. But the rep was  creative-I’ll give him that-he suggested that I abandon the online health education module altogether and opt for phone counseling in order to get my points  So I agreed. We scheduled an appointment with a health counselor.  Then the rep started to rattle on about the Philadelphia Eagles.  Time to say goodbye.

The health counselor called the next day at the appointed time.   “What health issues would you like to work on? ” she asked.

“Stress,” I replied, “I really need to work on my stress.”

“What gives you stress? ” she queried.

“I was doing pretty good before I enrolled in the Active Health program,” I admitted, “but broken website coupled with service reps who don’t have the resources they need to do their job  has caused me a great deal of stress.”

“Oh.”

The counselor suggested that I meditate and gave me a number I to call if the stress became overwhelming.  “There are counselors there to help you,” she informed me.

“Is this covered by my insurance?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she responded.  “Let’s schedule another session.”

“How’d it go?” my husband asked me later that day.  “Not as bad as I thought it would be,” I admitted.  “In fact, I’ve decided to start smoking again so at our next session she can give me advice on how to quit.”

Only two more counseling sessions to go.

And now, to keep myself honest, here are pictures of flowers taken on my walks around Philadelphia.

 

Looking for Inspiration? Try a Flea Market

Spring is when the outdoor flea markets spring up in Philadelphia.  My favorite Saturday activity is to take long walks through the neighborhoods and hit house sales, sidewalk sales, and flea markets on my way.  I usually look for household items I might need at sidewalk sales.  Estate sales are especially interesting because they are usually held in affluent neighborhoods and you get to see some pretty impressive homes from the inside as well as antiques and art.  You also learn that money does not always equal taste, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

Flea markets are fun because the sellers are generally pretty friendly in my experience and some are eager to talk about their wares even if you don’t buy.  They’re a place to learn, meet people, and relax.

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John S. Whitney, Jr. has a clever way of attracting buyers to his table filled with antique art and jewelry.  He also sells from his store, the Nue Gallery, in Lansdown, PA.

While I don’t collect antiques or vintage items, and rarely buy jewelry,  I find plenty of inspiration at flea markets.  You will find plenty of shapes and color at flea markets, in the form of old pottery vintage clothing, brightly colored cloth, old appliances, or just plain rusty stuff.  I have found some great old tools at flea markets, but I also look for things I can incorporate into my art, like old jewelry, metal objects I can cut up and repurpose, ephemera,  or anything that I can fit into a bezel.

Here are some pictures from my last flea market foray

 

And here’s what I bought: two cheap copper cuff bracelets and two cheap brass ones.  Total, $5.00.  I plan to reuse the metal to make something new.  I also found a vendor selling cabochons and treated myself to some lovely striped jasper for another $10.00.

My Haul

New Work from the Beading Yoda

I dropped in on my friend and neighbor Jeri Schatz (AKA Beading Yoda) to show her the rings I have been making and to get some tips and constructive criticism.   (Jeri studied goldsmithing at the Kulicke-Stark Academy in New York and served an apprenticeship there before she moved to Philadelphia and began beading.)  After we were finished, I asked her t what she was working on, and she took down to beading central so I could see for myself.

 

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The Beading Table

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Beaded Beads

Bracelets

Bracelets

DuoandRAW

Super Duos combined with seed beads

Multi-layered Geometric Bracelet

Hands

 

InProgress

New  necklace design

 

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A geometric bracelet that moves wonderfully when you wear it.

Sampling

Geometric, Herringbone, and Peyote

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More bracelets with Super Duo beads, triangles, bars and seed beads.

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

It certainly looked like it in my neighborhood.  I took these pictures today on the walk home from the pottery studio.

 

And here’s one of the cacti from Bob’s garden.    I know it looks like a bunch of deflated balloons now, but its cactus pads will be stiff as soldiers come summer.

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I have been busy making mugs and  I’ll post a few pictures in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pieces from the Fleisher Student Show.

Christmas at Laurel Hill

Laurel Hill Mansion in Fairmont Park is all decked out for the holidays.  This year’s theme is “Celebrating 250 Years of Designing Women.”  The Christmas Tree in the main room is decorated with ornaments showing women’s fashion plated from Godey’s Lady’s Book.  If you never heard of Godey’s Lady’s Book, you are in for a surprise.  Godey’s was the premier woman’s fashion magazine in the United States from  1837 to 1898.   But it  was more than a magazine.  Women relied on it for information and articles on everything from cooking to housekeeping to health to etiquette.  It contained sheet music, short stories, book reviews, etchings and essays by the leading intellectuals of the day.    Its female editor, Sarah J.  Hale, wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and convinced President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.   Hale was also a trend setter who knew what her readers wanted. In 1850, she started a fad when she introduced the American public to the Christmas tree when she published a picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert  and their family gathered around their holiday tree.  

Here are some pictures of Laurel Hill.

If you want to take a look at Godey’s Lady’s Book,  press here.  You can download articles and other materials here. And enjoy your holiday.

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Bob’s Garden in the Fall of 2017

Things are quieting down in Bob’s garden about now and the last of the summer flowers are starting to fade.  The cacti are getting themselves ready for the winter and the turtles have gone to the bottom of the koi pond to wait out the cold weather.  The banana tree didn’t throw off any fruit this summer but its long, broad leaves still made me feel like I was in the tropics.  Here are some pictures of Bob’s garden in the fall.

 

For more pictures of Bob’s garden over the years, press here.

Pictures of the Week

It’s always fun to post from your cell phone, but a handy option to have. I am under the radar this week but thought I would share some pictures from last week’s Flea Market at the Kimmel Center.