Radiant style and boundless creative energy effervescence like Champagne bubbles through the life of jewelry designer Laura Lobdell.
The Manhattan artist-turned-jewelry-designer is known for a line of jewelry inspired by the wire-clad cap, or muselet, that tops bottles of sparkling wine and champagne. Her rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings reflect a lively spirit of everyday celebration and fun that permeates Lobdell’s philosophy of life and work. Visitors to her charming and cozy West Village shop, where her creations mingle with mementos, are enveloped in a glam gypsy spirit that is perfectly attuned to current fashion trends.
We asked Lobdell, who has been discovering inspiration in found objects since art school, what’s capturing her imagination now, how her vintage Raleigh bicycle, with its eye-catching champagne bucket on the handlebars, fits into her life in the city, and for her favorite style tips for the weekend beach getaways she cherishes. Of course, Champagne is a key ingredient.
Top photo: A collector of vintage fabrics, Lobdell wears a custom-made circle skirt in a graphic print with a Champers necklace.
You studied at the School of Visual Arts. Are you a native New Yorker?
I’m originally from Chicago. I grew up going to the Chicago Art Institute. I came to New York after college to study for a Master’s in Fine Art at SVA.
Whom do you consider an important influence on your work?
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt on the faculty at SVA. He encourages in his students “a love of matter true to yourself by connecting with that place in childhood where one is happy making things just for the joy of it.”
You started off as a painter and then an abstract artist. How did you get into jewelry design?
I had a lot of musician friends in the Village. I noticed that they would misplace their guitar picks during their sets. So I sculpted functional guitar picks and hung them on leather thongs. They were not only a hit with the guitarists, but also with their girlfriends.
I first discovered your jewelry line when I spotted a promotional postcard with a photo of your champagne bucket bicycle. What’s the connection for you between bubbly and bicycling?
Maybe it goes back to being a kid on a bike — one of the first tastes of freedom that riding a bike can offer — to that moment, ever that sunlight. Some of the happiest I’ve ever been in my life is on a bike.
So, where did you find that vintage Raleigh?
I rode an English-style bike back in the day. I bought this one from the Charlie Mom restaurant delivery guy. (Laughs.) He sold bicycles on the side. He must have been 90 years old. My friend told me about him; she bought a bike from him, too. Sadly, the restaurant closed last year.
What inspired the Champers line?
As an artist I was working within the vocabulary of found objects. I was in France, at a birthday party. It was happy — I was savoring the moment — but I also felt isolated. I wished I was back in New York. I put a Champagne cage on my finger, and it started a conversation, a connection. I knew right away what I wanted to make — the Champers ring.
While Champers is the core of your line, you draw from many different sources, including the beauty of nature. What’s influencing your work right now?
I’m drawn to the beach, to things that wash up. My Oyster collection is cast from the inside of oyster shells that have been scoured by salt water. Nicole Burke, the Krug Champagne ambassador, blew my jewelry-making mind with her explanation of the terroir of Champagne with its signature chalk earth. Nicole pointed out that fossilized sea creatures add distinction to the chalky soil — and the wine. This made sense of my dual passions, connecting the ocean and Champagne, my symbol of celebration.
You have so many pretty vintage things in the shop — what’s one of your favorites?
The white mirror (above) on the wall hung in my grandmother’s front hall. It makes me feel like she’s looking over me.
Laura’s Summer Beach Tips:
The Look: Lobdell favors a classic, carefree style. Think 501 jeans or a flowy summer skirt, a fresh white T, a wide-brimmed straw hat, and comfortable flats, like Soludos or Vans, easily kicked off onto warm sand.
The Embellishments: Accessories make a look your own. The artist wears jewelry of her design in unexpected ways: For example, braiding Seeds of Silk necklaces into her hair or winding them around the crown of her straw hat. An armload of her Longitude and Gratitude Surf Bracelets, fashioned of cowrie shells and colorful silk ribbons hand painted with coordinates of famous surf-riding beaches, make an airy statement.
The Food: “If you don’t have to spend time preparing food, you can spend more time on the beach,” Lobdell says. She recommends picking up a locally sourced picnic on the way to the waterfront: Chilled lobsters from a seafood shop and, from the farmer’s market, a baguette, a chunk of your favorite cheese and sweet cherries served on ice.
The Drink: You don’t have to spend a fortune. A sparkling wine, like Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blancs ($19), elevates the occasion without breaking the bank.
The Wheels: “I love the beach not being about a car,” Lobdell says. The designer rides a French blue upright Linus bike to the shore. She transports her cargo in style with a champagne bucket on the handlebars, plus a wooden wine crate on the back.