Shop owner finds charm in impostor jewelryMolly Golden has...


November 12, 1995|By Jenny Komatsu

Shop owner finds charm in impostor jewelry

Molly Golden has a penchant for collecting the old, the beautiful and the unique. This passion led to her opening American Pie, an antiques store in Fells Point, and stocking it with, among other things, vintage costume jewelry.

With no cheap trinkets, her eclectic collection of antique and nostalgic costume jewelry is well known among Baltimore-area collectors, and includes anything from mounted rhinestones to Victorian mourning jewelry -- black jewelry worn to show support for the widowed Queen Victoria -- to Italian mosaic pins made of painted crystal.

The pieces lie nestled on velvet panels, treated as preciously as the real thing, which, in a sense, they are. Costume jewelry, once regarded as a cheap and embarrassing substitute, has become increasingly popular in the past few years.

Ms. Golden's personal favorite is Bakelite, a colorful synthetic resin twisted or beaded into bracelets, necklaces and brooches and very popular during the Depression as inexpensive jewelry. No longer. Bakelite is now much sought after, and expensive. That people are now willing to pay real money for "fake" jewelry is no surprise to Ms. Golden. It is about quality.

"I like the costume jewelry made between the '20s and the '50s," says the 65-year-old shop owner, who also lives in Fells Point. "The jewelry from that period was just so much better made. In those days they put just as much time putting in the beads and pins as they did with real gems." Ms. Golden says people looking for the quality and high style of old pieces often seek out American Pie. The store, on Fleet Street, is now celebrating its lTC 15th year in existence.

"Like I had a woman in last week and she bought a bunch of rhinestones to give her bridesmaids she said she'd been to all the stores, but couldn't find anything," Ms. Golden says. "She wanted to give something special."

Thirty kids at the Children's Book Store in Roland Park giggle hysterically as author and illustrator Kevin O'Malley tells twisted fairy tales and illustrates them on the easel by his side.

In Mr. O'Malley's cosmos, Rumpelstiltskin resembles Ross Perot, and the Beast's fate depends not on petals dropping from a rose, but on whether pepperoni will fall from a greasy slice of pizza before Beauty falls for him.

Or else, the artist intones, he "shall remain a big, mean, smelly beast."

As the children shout answers to his questions, Mr. O'Malley, who wears a sunflower tie, beams. After his presentation, he happily signs books purchased by his young audience and personalizes each with witty caricatures of monkeys, dinosaurs and lions. Performance art for the pre-teen set is his first love.

"I really do enjoy that more than anything," he says. "You get to really meet [children.] Children's books are a very cloistered occupation. I spend far too much time alone and out of earshot of little kids."

Working in his attic studio in Rodgers Forge, Mr. O'Malley has written and illustrated an array of children's books.

With "Who Killed Cock Robin?" he transformed the classic tale into a murder mystery. In "Roller Coaster," a young girl whoops it up at an amusement park.

When communing with kids, irreverence is key, Mr. O'Malley believes.

"Kids are very wild; they have wild ideas," he says.

Children don't want lessons delivered in righteous parental tones, says Mr. O'Malley, who lives with his wife, Dara, and two young sons.

"I stay away from moral tales," he says. "They drive me nuts."

If he could pick his own projects more freely, Mr. O'Malley, 34, would focus on childhood memories of the "intense frustration of not being able to get what I wanted."

Unfortunately, editors are not receptive to such tales of primary angst, he says. "They don't want to hear about a kid who is driven or obsessive."

Stephanie Shapiro

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