Lynda is someone who needs no introduction! She has been fearlessly managing the Jay Strongwater studio for over 20 years. And every year, as summer winds down, we celebrate Lynda’s birthday in the studio with cake and–of course–a new handbag to add to her collection. Gucci, Pucci, Fiorucci, she has them all. This year, we found her a chic little black leather bag from 3.1 Phillip Lim. She loved the bag and we love her!
I love a personal touch: a handwritten note on a monogrammed card, special gift wrapping, remembering a birthday. As a young boy, I have this memory of my mother getting a fur coat (I know, the ’70s!), and inside the coat, her initials were embroidered on the lining. I was so taken by that personal touch.
Being attracted to typography, I have always wanted to design a complete Jay Strongwater alphabet of jeweled charms, but making 26 brand-new models all at once is a daunting project. Luckily, our very talented designer Dawn was up for the challenge! Hard to believe we started this about two years ago. Looking at old antique alphabet samples, one in particular caught my eye: a serif letter highly decorated with scrolls, leaves, and flourishes from 1889.
We then made drawings of how our Jay Strongwater alphabet could look, a classic detailed letter wrapped with leaves.
Slowly, over a period of months, all 26 letters were completed in meticulously carved clay sculptures. Of course each one is as beautifully detailed on the back as the front, with delicate flowers and amusing butterflies, dragonflies, and ladybugs.
As in all our metal designs, molds were made of each letter, poured in pewter, and finished in 18K gold. I then worked with Allyson and Cecilia in the New York studio to paint the enamel colors: verdant greens with blue, purple, and red accents on a warm amber base. Each letter was then completely paved in brilliant, hand-set Swarovski crystals.
I find the excitement starts with the package itself. It was important to me that each alphabet charm be presented in a box worthy of such a beautiful design. The final tooled-leather-wrapped, hinged box has our name embossed in gold leaf and is lined in deep fuchsia satin.
How nice to have this most perfect, personalized gift for everyone on my list. See our website for the full collection.
It is always wonderful to meet collectors and present the newest collections to them when I visit a store. But early in the morning, before the store opens for the day, I have time to quietly talk to the store’s team about the thought process and development behind each design. This season, I find myself reaching for two designs in particular to talk about, the Nouveau Candlesticks, “Roselyn” and “Mirabelle” …
… and the Floral Butterfly Bowl, “Claudette.” Both styles epitomize some of our most beautiful creations, with strong silhouettes and intricate details.
It has been many years since we added new candlesticks to the collection. I wanted these to have a grand, twisted metal arm starting from the base and reaching high up, holding the leaf-wrapped candle cups. Punctuating the base are large oversized lilies with contrasting petals of enamel and large jeweled crystals. Larry started working on them in early 2103 by forming the first models in clay.
We made molds of these and poured the first pewter castings. Cyril then began refining the shape and adding the stone settings to the petals. The flower models went to Rhode Island for more mold-making. The candlesticks themselves went to India to be sand-cast in solid brass.
On my recent visit to India, I was able to watch them shape the curves into each piece.
Meanwhile, back in the New York Studio, Ben and I were talking about the colors of the lilies, and how to achieve the lush color palette. By adding layers of white enamel under the final colors, the perfect pigments were achieved.
Whereas the candlesticks started with clay models, the floral bowl began with sketches. I wanted to take the scrolls from Floral Scroll Wall Mirror and shape them into a dramatic bowl lifted on a matching base.
Once Manreet had worked out the placement of the scrolls and leaves, our foundry in India started crafting the first samples, paying particular attention to soldering each leaf into place.
We received these first prototypes in New York, where Cyril and I designed all the jeweled flowers and butterflies that are woven throughout. These were then all sent to Rhode Island for mold-making.
When all the parts came together, and there are more than 20 on this bowl, Ben once again worked with me on the palette of green leaves setting off the hot house blossoms. More than 1800 hand-set stones finish the bowl with a sparkling aura.
We started shooting the spring 2014 catalog on a cold December day, and now three months later, it is still cold and snowing here in New York! But I know that any day now, we will have sunny spring days. While we are waiting, let our new catalog fill your home with some great new designs. Photographed over two weeks, we placed the designs in rooms filled with antique furniture to create the perfect settings.
There was no question that the new Indigo Collection had to be up front on the cover and opening pages. The freshness of mixed blues looks striking against a background of old Chinese porcelain jars and sprays of yellow orchids. When we previewed this collection to buyers and editors, we could feel their intrinsic reaction to the new color palette. In particular, everyone loved the cleaner new frame styles with their more graphic quality.
A few pages later, I finally got to shoot a tablescape of our new napkin rings. To all our collectors who have been asking me when we are designing new napkin rings–they are here! The incredible diamond-faceted glass rings set off a big jewel on top. Each pair is packaged in our signature Jay Strongwater box.
And please don’t miss the four new glamorous pins on the opposite page: sprays of flowers highlighted with opal-colored crystals.
Turn a few pages and be wowed by a double-page spread launching the Luminous Collection: silhouettes of shells, crustaceans, mollusks, and fish depicted in hammered bezels that are individually fitted together and set with faceted crystals stones and pearls. We photographed them on old tables, in a room filled with light, to illuminate their surfaces.
If you remember, this past fall we introduced the Chinoiserie Collection; this season, those same design elements inspire wonderful new pillows. Photographed on a simple linen-covered bench, the lush embroidered colors look beautiful against their cream velvet backgrounds.
I can’t cover every page here, but near the end, on page 42, there is this arresting photograph of our new Nouveau-style candlesticks elegantly placed on a dark wood table. Their grace and beauty culminates in gentle swirls holding leaf-wrapped candle cups.
I cannot wait for you to turn each page yourself and see all these beguiling photographs, each one capturing the many facets of what we love to do every day. Please visit our site to view the e-catalog or request your own printed copy!
How do you collect your Jay Strongwater charms? I recently met a wonderful collector in Florida who drapes her necklace around her simple black handbag. Filled with so many charms, it had become too heavy to wear!
This season, we have 11 new charms to tempt and delight all our collectors, each one designed with all the intricate details that you find in our larger figurines, but meticulously finished in a smaller scale.
Our Marla ladybug will bring lots of good luck, beautifully resting on the puffy heart covered in tightly hand-set sparkling crystals.
Love is in the air for Lucy and Carl, as these two lovebirds exchange love songs while resting on a swing.
Our newest elephant, Howie, gently floats under a multicolored striped balloon.
The bee charm, Muriel, has vibrant wings of hand-painted graduated deep pink enamel.
Our tropical fish charm, Linus, boldly stands out with his crystal-stoned, turquoise striped body.
We hope you love them all, and if you have a special collection or a fun way to use our charms, we’d love to hear about it. Post a snapshot on our Facebook page or leave a comment!
Outside it’s freezing, with yet another snowstorm blowing through, but inside our home, the March issues of home and fashion magazines are starting to pile up: thick with the newest advertisements, a new season, a new direction, filled with images of a glorious spring season, everything abloom, the possibilities are endless.
Maybe you have to go through a harsh northeast winter to make you relish what is just around the corner. As a young boy growing up just outside of New York City, visiting the New York flagship of Saks Fifth Avenue was intoxicating, with its stately carved wood interior and dramatic fashion on display. I can remember they once had a campaign introducing the new season at hand, and the tag line was “The Pulse Quickens.”
In our own kind of way, I think we are feeling that same sense of excitement launching our first new designs for 2014. Turning away from our more muted, jewel-toned color palettes of fall, the spring season starts with “Indigo,” a clean, crisp composition of Prussian, cobalt and cream-colored enamels. That classic blue-and-white pairing as seen in old Chinese porcelain has inspired the feel of our Sophie Hydrangea Bowl, with twisted brass-finished branches and enameled blossoms wrapping around the rim of our mouth-blown, dappled blue bowl.
A particular favorite of mine is a new frame in the Indigo Collection that has a gentle scalloped edge and has been meticulously enameled like Florentine marbleized papers.
The very talented Grace first lays down a base of white paint over the gold-finished frame. From there, she puts down the first of 25-plus parallel lines of swirling enamel in similar shades of blue.
While everything is still wet, she carefully takes her needle and drags it repetitively through the enamel to complete the fine detailed finish. One mistake, and she has to put the frame aside and start all over!
We loved the effect so much that we covered a new box in the same technique and finished it with a dramatic large jeweled dragonfly perched on top.
All of this and so much more, I can’t wait for you to see all of “Indigo” for yourself…
I hope everyone had a great Hanukkah this season. Patrick and I had family and friends over Saturday night for a wonderful dinner in our home. The room looked beautiful with lots of candles everywhere and our sparkling pumpkins still out from Thanksgiving!
Patrick made delicious latkes, and in honor of the holiday falling so close to Thanksgiving, a great pumpkin roll for dessert.
My niece Katy said the prayers and lit the candles (with our Buddha watching!) And, of course, lots of great gifts were exchanged.
Every year, right before Thanksgiving, we put away our enamel and stones, make room in the studio, and set up one long table for our studio Thanksgiving lunch!
Some of our designers who work outside the studio join us, everybody makes their favorite dishes, and a glorious time is had. We give thanks for another wonderful year and that we are all together to celebrate, and wish the same to our colleagues in our other studios, friends, families, and all our Jay Strongwater collectors.
When I talk about the heritage of Jay Strongwater, I invariably talk about my taking a few pairs of earrings and forming that first picture frame in 1995. 18 years later, I never fail to be excited about where that serendipitous moment continues to evolve and takes us.
A year ago, we slowly dipped our toe into creating designs with fabrics, embroidery, and crystals. Our second holiday collection of stockings and tree skirts has a rich depth of embellished textures, colors, and patterns. As so often happens in our New York studio, there is a fluid nature of designs from one medium being interpreted in another. The scrolls depicted in the Arabesque Stocking, Tree Skirt, and Pillow are not unlike the patterns we are currently carving on a new pierced-metal tabletop.
Metallic threads are tightly stitched together on the velvet to form the curves, outlined with rows of crystal beads and centered with bezel-set, pear-cut Swarovski crystal stones.
Our iconic Jungle collection of fierce tigers, zebras, and elephants is handsomely depicted in three new pillows. A few weeks ago, you might have read about the very talented designer Shannon on our Facebook page. Her beautiful drawings of animals were the starting point in creating these designs.
Each image is first transferred on to the velvet, completely embroidered, and then re-embroidered with hundreds of crystal beads.
A striking pattern of a gold trellis on deep navy velvet finishes the back of each pillow.
Like our hand-painted figurines, the individual aspect of making each pillow is a time-honored craft that I find very exciting!
Hard to believe it was way back in early spring of 2012 that we started to think about ideas and concepts for this year’s holiday glass ornament collection. Each one of the final 28 ornaments and three tree toppers began with numerous rough sketches, followed by detailed color drawings, before they can be handed over to the glass workshops in Poland. We are very fortunate to work with an amazing group of old-world craftspeople who carve each design in clay to form the molds they will eventually blow the glass into. Each silver-lined glass ornament is then completely hand-painted in luminous colors with delicate tracings of glitter, and hand-set with Swarovski crystals.
I wish I could say that it was those early spring blossoms that inspired the Mille Fiori ornaments. But as so often happens, our current jeweled metal designs were both the inspiration and challenge. The charm of our metal Mille Fiori figurines is in the minute details of each flower, but the challenge was how to capture that with the limitations of glass molds. The finished ornaments are some of my favorites–each one enhanced with thin raised blossoms to further the look of a field of flowers.
Another challenge this year was to try to create an ornament depicting the holy family in a crèche with animals in the background. Again using our Nativity figurines as the starting point, a magnificent clay model was sculpted with the family on one side and the manger on the other, with a starry night completing the scene.
We save our most whimsical ornaments for the Jubilee grouping: a prancing ostrich with big eyes and layers of necklaces…
…the monkey wearing a sequined vest, who has jumped on a glittery scrolled ornament…
…or the turtle, with his bejeweled shell, who can barely walk with that oversized ornament he is carrying…
…while the gentle tiger is protecting his ornament, patterned like a Russian jeweled egg.
Finally, our iconic Peacock collection has inspired this stunning tree topper, his tail completely swirled with iridescent paint, glitter and crystals. He proudly stands way over a foot tall on a matching display base.
I have only been able to talk about a handful of the new designs here, but there are so many more, each one just as beautiful and created one at a time for you!
- August 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- February 2012