We take a walk down memory lane today remembering Philadelphia's Aquarama Aquarium Theater of the Sea. The "theater" was a popular spot between 1962 - 1969 holding educational and entertainment attractions involving gallons of water, fish, dolphins, and seals. Philadelphia is also the home of featured jewelry designer John Wind.
At 6 feet 6 inches, Wind seems better suited for a career in the NBA than jewelry design but fortunately, his aptitudes lay within the creative realm.
While attending London's Slade School of Art during the early 80s, Wind spent his weekends in the flea markets on Portobello Road.
The excitement of discovering vintage charms and creating new contexts for them became a highlight for the designer. This was also Wind's first foray into collecting and arranging materials to create jewelry pieces.
"I'd rush home after weekend visits to Portobello Road and glue these fabulous vintage bits into big, funky brooches, and I'd wear them," he recalls.
"Hey Culture Club and the Thompson Twins played a role in my wearing these creations," he deadpans. "I fell in love with Victorian jewelry--its beauty and the way it tells a story by conveying emotions of love, friendship, and passion.
After I moved back to my hometown of Philadelphia, I started my company Maximal Art in 1985, and my aim is to evoke the same kind of emotion in my vintage-inspired jewelry. I think I accomplish this in a fun, fashionable way."
There are plenty of charm enhancers to ogle from the 14-karat gold over pewter keys and red crystal hearts to gold initial charms with faux pearls pom poms to a 24-karat gold-plated Eiffel tower, and fleur de lis. There are also fun charm themes to explore like Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Christmas.
"We work on pieces for every holiday simultaneously--everyday. We are never clear just what month it is," Wind says. "Every day is a new opportunity to be creative. It is a lot of fun."
The company's early days, however, were not as much fun as the ever-changing tastes of consumers developed a predilection for less extravagant aesthetics. The company's President, Robbin Cook, skillfully maneuvered through what could have been a significant blow.
"Robbin has worked with me for over twenty years and without her support none of the success of the company would have happened. We ended up a stronger company. Although we redefined our product to find a customer base we did it without choosing to base our design aesthetic on every fashion whim," says Wind.
Wind maintains a philosophy encompassing a spirit of giving something uplifting to potential and longstanding customers. "Ultimately every single piece that goes out into the world finds a home and makes someone happy. That direct, personal uplifting moment is what it's all about."
Presently sourcing materials from New England, Wind's colorful and animated charm jewelry is a part of the permanent collections of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as Paris' Musée des Arts Decoratisfs.
Photo 1 (top right): Midsummer Night Dream Collage Necklace from Jewelry Box Collection
Photo 2 (center): Gold-Plated Brass Bat Charm and Chain with Austrian Crystal
Photo 3 (bottom left): 24-Karat Plated Pewter and Sterling Silver Initial Bracelet with Faux Pearl Pom Pom from Personally Yours Collection