I think I was in fourth grade when my dad surprised me with a silver-plated ID bracelet from JC Penney for my birthday. A few years ago, I started wearing it again and thought of my dad each time I wrapped the chain around my wrist; I cherished the tarnished patina and the sentiment it embodied. But it had a tricky clasp and would fall off when least expected, and sadly, my bracelet vanished about a year ago.
Recently, I found a “temporary” replacement that carries with it much of the love and warm memories as the original. Handcrafted by Elizabeth Teich of ETC Modern Vintage (etcmodernvintage.com), the bracelet enchanted me with its Boy Scouts pendant -- one that reminded me of my own brief stint in the club where I learned things like decoupage and Native American beading. The pendant is paired with a vintage Belgian coin from 1954 -- one she may have found at a Long Island antiques dealer whom she adores visiting. “It’s like visiting your grandfather with a zillion stories to tell.” And then there’s the brown plastic bead – unassuming with just enough color -- that I found intriguing.
Liz told me it came from a necklace once owned by her mom, a jewelry dealer who taught her everything she knows about jewelry making. “The spiral wire design inspired by Hopi Indian designs, which has become my signature in my work, is the last thing she taught me before she passed away when I was just eight years old.” As Liz related her story, I fell deeper for the bracelet. She told me about her dad, an antiques dealer who is also named Stan, and about how she dumped an advertising director job to pursue her dreams as a jewelry designer.
The new bracelet carries the same weight as the old and clinks against my computer keyboard just like the other one did. And knowing its story makes me love it even more. “I also hope you keep enjoying your bracelet, but still find the one that your father gave you,” Liz wrote me. “The world works in mysterious ways, and I have a feeling you'll find it when you least expect it.”
In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.