Thank God I decided to hit the East Village Immaculate Conception church courtyard flea market early one Saturday morning recently. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon fellow handcrafting metal smither, jewelry maker, neighbor and new bud Peter Brackenbury and his Brackenbury.co jewelry collection.
First, his cool, organically-created handcrafted jewelry caught my eye. Then, as we stood and chatted at his booth, his adorable personality and creative sensibility enchanted me. We had lots in common, not the least of which was that he lived right down the block!
Fast forward to a couple of Fridays ago when Peter invited me to his work/live studio. I got the East Village pad tour, plus the chance to watch him in action. Of course, I walked away edified with many a tip on creating, soldering, tumbling and metal manipulating.
Below, Peter wears some of his fave ‘laces accented with brass, copper or nuts. Love the “Alien” pendant, hovering on one of his recycled, self-processed long leather bands, many of which he adorns with brass, copper or bronze open-work designs. He also works a lot in Argentium silver. He closes many of his necklaces with his signature PB clasp. Some pieces, like his skeletal rib cage pendants, even move as part of their intrinsic being. Many pieces are inspired by Peter’s dreams, as well as his manipulation of the metal and his own quirky creativity, which he comes by naturally, both as a trained artist and a former stylist for Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Peter was formerly a co-owner in the EV vintage fashion and interior boutique VOZ, one of my go-to drop-in shopping stops several years ago on 9th Street, east of Tompkins Square Park. I have missed that shop’s departure from the ‘hood. The store had the best selection of vintage bags as well as dishes, due, I suspect, in no small part to Peter’s aesthetic prowess.
“I studied art at University of Vermont — an early internship got me using the Macintosh computer to do design work,” Peter explains. “After school I moved to New York and worked in interior and prop styling with forays into web design, merchandising and event design and production. I think all of that gives me at an awesome foundation for the work that I’m trying to do now building a business. Even though I had certain skills with art and design, I never appreciated how vitally important it is to market yourself and your products effectively.”
I asked how he got into jewelry design: “I was kind of lucky to meet very awesome jewelry designers by coincidence — Jill Platner, Ted Muehling, Temple St. Clair, Sarah MacFadden — through mutual friends and local coincidences. Our friend, a wonderful fashion stylist by the name of Anna Belatti, noticed a crown that I had made for the Mermaid Day Parade and she really liked it and it made me think ‘I need to explore this,’ and sometime around a year ago, it just blew up. I’ve become very obsessed with melting things. Other wonderful opportunities to learn about glass lamp work, i.e., beadmaking have come up too — melting more stuff! So here I am and here we are on a wonderful ride!”
Peter at his workbench, below, “melting stuff” for the beginnings of his new Super Hero cuff – definitely one of my faves, one I’m definitely purchasing, along with that amazing labradorite necklace, above. Look for his wares at the EV flea market this weekend to view, try, and buy the latest PB-crafted loveliness, from his “Capture” rings (final picture, below) to his Super Hero cuff, and handcrafted link necklaces and bracelets. He is also hosting an Open House jewelry party in the back room of Dream Baby (162 Avenue B near 10th) this Thursday from 7-10. See ya there!