I’m so enamoured with vintage Miriam Haskell jewelry, it’s hard for me to sum up everything I want to share with you today. For me, looking over her pieces I’m stuck by the amazing design and color sense. I think what I love most is the unusual construction that can be translated into design lessons for beaders. Another thing I love is that I can look at a piece and see today’s findings and beads used. That makes them relevant to me as I study the pieces for ways to translate the elements that most capture my attention and filter that into my own jewelry.
Miriam Haskell was an American designer and created jewelry with her head designer Frank Hess from the 1920’s until the 1950’s. Her work was worn by movie stars and royalty. Haskell jewelry is sought after today by collectors worldwide. The company has changed hands many times over the years with different designers at the helm and still produces amazing jewelry.
“Miriam Haskell is known primarily for beaded jewelry. Her company didn’t do a lot of cast pieces and it didn’t stray from the main idea of what the jewelry was supposed to be about—beautiful beads and execution for a sophisticated audience.” – Shelia Pamfiloff
Early Haskell jewelry was not signed and most of it has been identified through advertisements. The Haskell company used illustrator Larry Austin to create exaggerated images of the jewelry, shown above. Today the illustrations are also highly collectible.
The type of construction used with the beads on the filigree is called cagework. This great video from B’Sue Boutique shows how the jewelry was generally pieced together.
Before you do anything else, read this article from Diane Fitzgerald on creating a beaded collage a’la Mariam Haskell. The tutorial walks you through the basics of creating this type of beaded design.
I found this great tutorial on making the wire and bead petals here and another variation here.
Advice on cagework from Brenda Sue of B’Sue Boutiques, “The best resource to learn how to wire beads et al a la Haskell The Jewelry of Miriam Haskell, written by Sheila Pamfiloff and Cathy Gordon. You can get it on Amazon, and the photos show construction well. Haskell jewelry evolved a lot through the years and much of their beading is intermediate level, and something they themselves worked through, generation by generation. If you don’t have the book, you will want to get one.”
I’m a Vintaj girl myself and will use some of my Vintaj filigree as the base for my next project. You can find Vintaj online at retailers like Bello Modo.
Cynthia Dies the owner of Ornamenta has some vintage inspired projects in her book Beading with Filigree. Here is a tutorial that shows how to add seed bead flowers to a mesh screen pendant. All sorts of filigree and vintage inspired findings are offered at Ornamentea.
B’sue Boutiques is kind of the mother lode for filigree and vintage inspired findings. This is a new to me site, yes, I live under a rock! They carry just about any find of vintage goodie your heart could desire.s Their blog is a great source of vintage inspired jewelry inspiration and they host fun challenges on their facebook page! The also have a YouTube channel with tutorials and tips.