Saturday, July 18, 2009


Today we will explore the beautiful sights of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden in California.

As we walk through this natural setting, we see a large number of indigenous plants such as the ficus tree, gooseberry shrubs, coral-bells, and purple needle grass.

California is also home to featured jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino.

Once you see Tarantino's fuschia-colored tresses (she dyed her hair some years back) you clearly comprehend her sense of adventure, fun, and whimsy.

Her bright, upbeat, candy-like jewelry is a grand celebration of childhood, or more specifically girlhood. Her vividly colored, chunky designs pay homage to the little girl within or more aptly, Tarantino's own childhood memories.

At age three, Tarantino's mother surprised her with a gift of colorful Fimo® Clay. "I immediately made a ring, necklace, and pin. I would play like my room was a jewelry store and sell my pieces to my parents. I always dreamt that someday I would make sparkly things as my job."

Tarantino continued her love affair with creating "sparkly things" through her teens, and as a young adult working as a fashion model in Paris. After photo shoots, she would make pieces from polymer clay, and glass beads and crystals she collected at flea markets. She wore her creations during fashion shoots only to leave the shoots without them; her co-workers had purchased them.

In a few years, she left her modeling career to pursue freelance work as a make-up artist in addition to a part-time retail artist position with MAC Cosmetics. Tarantino initially loved her retail artist position, but difficult customers and personality clashes with co-workers proved very trying.

"I was walking home from work to my nearby apartment thinking about quitting and I realized that it was not the job that was bad, it was my attitude. I decided to have a happy attitude no matter what the day would bring."

Again, Tarantino wore her handmade jewelry designs to work only for her co-workers and customers to buy them right off her. Tarantino's husband, Alfonso was instrumental to what happened next.

"When he saw my jewelry, he asked me where I got it. He said, `You make that and you're a makeup artist? Well that's cool, but you should be selling that. That's a business!'"

Alfonso then took some pieces to Fred Segal and Jennifer Kaufman returning home with "a $5,000 order from Fred Segal," Tarantino says. "This company wouldn't have happened if it weren't for him."

A little over 10 years later, Tarantino's effervescent collections are sold from her showroom on Melrose Avenue to a wide array of individuals including Pink, Katy Perry, Heidi Klum, Ashlee Simpson, and Hilary Duff.

Several of her collections, made primarily with richly hued Swarovski Crystals, carved Lucite, glass beads, and wood, feature the most iconic childhood images around like Alice in Wonderland, Barbie and The Wizard of Oz. Her designs make great gifts for that special little girl, even when she is not a little girl anymore.

The sense of nostalgia I felt observing her line made me a little misty-eyed for the more carefree moments of childhood. I really love the sense of "sparkle" and vitality that permeates all of her collections.

"They say that if you love what you do then it never feels like work. When you hear someone say, `attitude is everything' believe it--a good attitude and love of life in general is contagious."

For more on Tarantino, watch author, screenwriter and actor Clint Catalyst's YouTube interview below:

Photo 1 (top right): Sparklicity Lucite Pearl Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Draped Breastplate Necklace with Swarovski Crystals from Gotham City Collection
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