Q&A WITH CYNTHIA BLOOM

WE TALK TO CYNTHIA BLOOM, FEATURED ARTIST OF DECEMBER, ABOUT HER JOURNEY INTO DESIGNING JEWELRY

AC: How did you come to start this artistic journey of making jewelry?
CB: Once in a blue moon, a seemingly unremarkable incident can lead to a completely new path in life. That moment came 15 years ago when I was invited by a friend to place a few items in an upcoming antique sale.
The invitation took me down a path that I never imagined, toward a career in the design of a fashion jewelry line noted for both its vintage character and timeless appeal.
At the time of my friend's request, I recalled an antique necklace that I had treasured and worn until the strings had broken. In a few evenings, I restrung the tiny glass beads, designing five new necklaces in the process. Prior to the sale, I showed my creations at work, where they were an instant hit with co-workers and customers alike. I thought it was pretty remarkable that, without even trying, I was instantly getting requests for custom orders. With my curiosity aroused, I went online to research the origin of the beads in my possession and soon discovered that the shimmering spheres were hand-blown and hand-cut in Europe, sometime around 1910. I learned that master bead makers had been forced to store their beads in hiding during both world wars, to protect them from confiscation or destruction. Later, many handmade beads had been exported. Some supplies however, remained available, primarily with dealers in Europe. I immediately made contact and requested color samples. Upon their arrival, I ordered my first supply and, on a financial wing and prayer, I was in the business of jewelry design.
Using iridescent beads, rare antique Swarovski crystals and handcrafted glass buttons made with up to 200-year old molds, my creations recall a grand historical era of the past, yet do so with contemporary flair.

AC: Tell us about the Special materials used in your pieces (buttons and crystals).
CB: My designs include rare antique hand-blown, hand-cut Czech glass beads circa 1910-1920, vintage and modern Swarovski Austrian crystals, freshwater pearls, unique gemstones and Czech glass buttons that are hand-pressed with up to 200 year-old tools.

AC: Tell us what inspired you to do the Milonga series.
CB: I discovered by accident, several years ago, that my birth grandmother was a family secret and that she had lived in Argentina. After I got over my shock, I spent a lot of time thinking about her and wondering what she was like. In this state of mind, I decided to name a line in my jewelry collection Milonga. In Argentina, a Milonga is a gathering place where people go to tango, so I chose that name in tribute to the Argentinean woman of mystery who was my grandmother.
Casually elegant, the Milonga designs are a lighter, playful version of the larger button necklaces in my collection and are created with smaller glass buttons, modern Swarovski crystals and jeweler's silk knotting cord.

AC: Where do you get your inspiration?
CB: My mother was born in 1912 and I think my inspiration started when I was a little girl back in the 1950s. The sparkle of my mother's engagement ring from the 1920s was always catching my eye. I loved pulling all of the glimmering vintage jewels out of her small jewelry box — it was like I had re-discovered a treasure chest every time I looked through it. The styles, colors and fashions in the Victorian, Edwardian and Deco period's have always drawn me in. So I look for timeless treasures that have never been used and am passionate about bringing such spectacular works of the past into the present, where they can be seen, worn and enjoyed by an entirely new generation. This gives real meaning to my work, not to mention the joy and smiles I witness when people discover my collection.

AC: What do you enjoy doing when you are not making art?
CB: I love being outdoors which includes playing tennis as much as my body will allow, which hopefully is close to every day!
Coming from a photography background, I can get lost for hours looking through the lens of a camera capturing moments whether it's the setting sun, a macro view of the hustle and bustle of bees buzzing around my garden, or whatever!
Life is good when a summer day includes a swim and a relaxing couple of hours with a friend at Barton Springs 68 degree year-round pool.
The beach is my ultimate happy place and whenever I can, taking a trip down to the Texas coast with family, friends and our two Australian Shepherd dogs (who absolutely LOVE running the beach and jumping the waves) rocks my boat!
Having trained my dogs for years, we enjoy agility classes together, running obstacles and occasionally entering competition trials too! I've also trained both of them to be therapy dogs and we volunteer together at the Dell Children's Medical Center where it's incredibly rewarding to see the positive impact they bring to the children and their families.
Cooking gourmet meals, playing Canasta, volunteering at The High Road on Dawson — a philanthropic non-profit group that serves the Austin community.
So many interests and so little time!