This week we sat down with Christine Nielson, the mother of Permanent Collection co-founder, Mariah Nielson, and founder of luxury organic bedding company, Coyuchi. Because all of Permanent Collection's jewelry designs derive from Christine's personal collection of J.B. Blunk creations, we were excited to see what she would choose.
Christine Nielson: My most treasured possession––though it was hard to choose just one––is a necklace made for me by my partner, J.B. Blunk, in the 1970s.
Permanent Collection: Is there a story behind the making of this necklace?
C.N.: We found the pre-Columbian beads in Oaxaca, Mexico over the course of years of travels there. They were in Ramon Fosado's store, Casa Cervantes, on Porfirio Diaz. Ramon was a great collector of beautiful things including traditional craft objects, textiles from all over the state of Oaxaca, jewelry, artifacts dating back to the Colonial period….always a treasure trove of intriguing, exquisite pieces. J.B. strung the beads with brass sheeting rolled to make spacers.
P.C.: What do you love most about it?
C.N.: It’s a versatile and flattering accessory and it’s also very lightweight and comfortable to wear. That, and, of course, it's also very personal.
P.C.: What’s your trustiest vintage source?
C.N.: Goodwill in Ashland, Oregon. It's where I've found the most and longest lasting of my second-hand classics, and where both my daughter and mother had similar success. So, a three-generation thrift store! Especially terrific blouses, silk and rayon Hawaiian short sleeve shirts. Love them in summer!
P.C.: Do you have a favorite museum?
C.N.: Probably the deYoung. I was just there and revisited the African collection. I'd forgotten how extraordinary it is. The coffins made in Accra, Ghana, originally by Kana Kwei in the shape of whatever object was closest to the heart/life of the person who wanted to be buried in it. There is a cacao bean 6 feet long, anchored to a tiny trunk with two dollhouse-sized little cacaos "growing" on it. So fanciful! And the building itself is magnificent.
P.C.: What dish would be the equivalent of your ‘permanent collection’ thing?
C.N.: This time of year I love cold beet soup. It's a recipe from Annie Summervilles' book Field of Greens. Seasoned with orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice and dill, it is heavenly in hot weather and since I grow red, gold and Chioggia beets, we can have it in three colors!
P.C.: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
C.N.: My first bicycle, a green one-speed Schwinn, when I was 8. I woke up at about 2 a.m. and went out to the living room and sure enough, next to the tree was that bike. I didn't know how to ride yet but I spent the rest of the night spinning the wheels and imagining myself flying along on it, which, eventually, I did.
P.C.: What’s the one book that's stayed with you for the longest?
C.N.: Rachel Carson's The Silent Spring. I read it soon after it was published in 1962 and consider it be the beginning of my environmental education and awareness.