August 03 2016

In part two of the Favorite Craft series, we met with Janice Waitkus, community relations and Store Director of LAGOS in Philadelphia.

Have you always fascinated by jewelry?

A graduate of University of Maryland, I began my career in retail as a buyer for Woodward & Lothrop department stores, where I learned for 10 years, in Washington, D.C. before becoming General Manager for Lord & Taylor, for five years. There were only four women store managers out of 50 stores, quite a different moment in time. At this time, I was more focused on textiles and apparel, which had been my first passion.  

I relocated to Philadelphia in 1994, and joined Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia as a Merchandise Manager. One of the areas of responsibility involved jewelry. Neiman’s allowed me to really get familiar with various jewelry designs and artists, which is how I met Steven Lagos, a then up-and-coming jeweler. Through my work as a buyer, my love of the craft, and my relationship with Steven, jewelry became a focus and passion. This is my 13th year working at LAGOS. 

How has your appreciation for jewelry changed as a store director?

My experience in jewelry and merchandising with national accounts is a major reason why I’m in the incredible position I am today. Steven, the staff, and I have re-branded the store by focusing on building community relations and creating a signature product, which is the Caviar Collection.

I have a lot of pride about running this business. I love giving advice to the customers and helping them build a collection that has meaning. Whether they’re in the market for themselves or a loved one, it’s truly satisfying and rewarding experience to watch and assist someone pick out a piece that reflects their own personality. 

What is your favorite craft that you own?

My LAGOS bracelets are my favorite craft since they really encompass my career and my passion. I acquired my first Caviar bracelet in 1996; the handcrafted beauty, the attention to detail, the quality of the materials, and the creative inspiration are all absolutely astonishing.

I particularly find the methodology behind this bracelet to be special. Using an “old world” technique, the design is first created in pencil, then transformed into a wax mold. This is when the metal is poured in, allowing the max to melt away ("loss wax process").  There is so much more to all the moving parts of this complex jewelry making and intricate designs. 

How do you display it?

Janice models her stack of bracelets from the Caviar Collection.

I would say a huge part of why Caviar is my favorite craft is because of the display. As a jewelry aficionado, part of my personal aesthetic is creating the perfect bracelet stack.

I play with the colors and textures on my wrists each morning when I get dressed. My stack reflects not only my outfit for the day, but also reflects my larger personal style and brand. My favorite is mixing black and white bracelets, but I’m also known to mix up the textures by adding a linked or beaded bracelet in the middle of my stack for some extra flare.

I oftentimes have customers or friends ask me about stacking, since this is an increasingly popular way to display these pieces. When wearing a few bracelets, it’s best to wear them in odd numbers. Personally, I like to work in a new and an old piece to the stack since it’s a great way to evolve a personal collection and continue to develop your aesthetic. For me, the best part about the stack is that each person can create it differently; the sense of individual identity and empowerment from displaying your favorite jewelry in this manner is incredibly satisfying.

What meaning does your jewelry have to you?

Each bracelet I own has a story to tell or marks an occasion. For example, I have a few garnet pieces, which hold a special significance because that’s my birthstone. Then there is my Fluted heart necklace, which is the first piece I ever received from Steven. Each piece represents a pivotal moment in my life – I truly treasure them.

Jewelry has emotional value. If you receive it as a gift, it’s something memorable, personal, and unique. You remember the day you bought it, or and who gave it to you. Jewelry has a story, a deeper meaning, or sometimes even a sadness from inheritance. It could even be that it was from a gumball machine and you’ve held onto it all these years. Helping my customers pick out a piece of jewelry is a wonderful experience. Jewelry is so special to me, and I feel so fortunate that I am able to share and spread my craft with a larger audience. 

Janice’s collection of LAGOS jewelry over the years.

Check out more from our My Favorite Craft series by visiting

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
November 11 2015

The doors to the Craft Show officially open tomorrow, though you can still get a sneak peak and meet the artists at tonight's Preview Party

Behind the scenes artists are busy preparing—setting up their booths and arranging their wares for display. We asked jewelry artist Liz Oppenheim what goes into preparing for a major craft show like this one:

 I grew up in Philadelphia, near the Art Museum in Fairmount, and attended the Craft Show almost every year when I was a kid. I loved seeing the artists standing next to the work they created, and listening to them talk about how they made it. And they were making art and objects for real people to actually take home to own! I've been living in California for 11 years now, but coming home to do this show is a childhood dream come true.

Preparation for a major show such as this begins before I even apply. As the application deadline approaches, I prepare and photograph the new work I'm most excited about to submit to the jurying process. As soon as I heard that I was accepted, about six months in advance, I began working on a series of one-of-a-kind brooches to support one of the pieces I used as part of my application. They explore the concepts of enfolding and opening, and I have five or six pieces in that series now. I've also developed a few large cuff bracelets so heavy they remind me of armour. Having the opportunity to show my work directly to customers is a great chance to work on new and unusual pieces, and to get direct feedback from the people who might one day own them. I've also been producing multiples of my best sellers, like earrings and rings.

But making the work is only a part of what goes into preparing for a show. Fortunately for me packing up my jewelry for a show is much easier than if I created larger, or more fragile work. I feel for the ceramicists! All the pieces I'm bringing to the show will fit in one box. There is also the booth to design and build, and that's an opportunity to create a space to welcome people, and to display the work in a compelling way. I have many sketchbook pages filled with booth layout ideas! For me, the most important thing is that people attending the show feel comfortable coming into the booth and interacting with me, and that means an inviting layout and good lighting.

We can't wait to see the final product of Oppenheim's booth as well as the work of all the other artists, finally on display in the Convention Center!

Filed Under:
Tagged With:
November 06 2014

Photo: Jewelry by Hiroko M. Streppone

Hiroko M. Streppone (booth #329) is the founder and president of Hiroko Designs, a fine jewelry manufacturer founded in 1984. Trained both in Japan and the US, Hiroko has exhibited her work throughout the US, Europe and Asia, and at all major jewelry shows, including JA Show NYC, American Craft Council (ACC) Craft Show Baltimore, the Las Vegas Jewelry Show, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Hiroko's jewelry has been featured in many fine jewelry boutiques and museum shops around the US and continues to appear in many trade magazines. Hiroko is a member of the International Jewelry Design Guild (IJDG). She is a NYS-licensed instructor at Studio Jewelers, Ltd. You can preview the work of the 2013 award winner for excellence in jewelry here.

What first interested you in working in your medium?
Precious metals always had an attraction for me. The warm colors of gold, the cool elegance of silver, the stately look of platinum, working the metal in combination with precious stones provides an unparalleled excitement in design. Jewelry is functional art at its best!

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create?
Precious metals can be worked and reworked and transformed from one design to another while keeping its basic properties. It’s kind of a rebirth, a new beginning, an object that can last an eternity. That’s why I love it. I can work the metal until I achieve my goal and my own personal design.

What do you love about your workspace?
My studio allows me to design and execute my ideas without the need to leave my workspace-- it’s fully equipped and easily accessible. Soldering, polishing, and wax modeling all can be done in a comfortable environment right in the heart of Manhattan.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?
Inspiration is everywhere. I draw from architecture, textile design, floral patterns, and industrial design for inspiration and combine them to make them my own.



Filed Under:
© 2002 - 2021 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. All rights reserved.
Privacy | Copyright

The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
P.O. Box 7646
Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646
Phone: (215) 684-7930