Psyche Jewelry by designer Nina Berenato launches retail boutique on Barton Springs in ATX

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Nina Berenato. Photography by Reese Vonderschmidt.

On April 9, 2016 an exclusive, media-only launch party was held to celebrate the opening of Psyche Jewelry’s first boutique. Designer Nina Berenato consented to an interview with writer, Nicolette Mallow for Examiner.com.Founder and Designer of Psyche Jewelry, Nina Berenato, has launched her first ever retail boutique in Austin, Texas and an exclusive, media-only opening party was held on April 9, 2016 during the late afternoon. Beginning a jewelry career in Brooklyn—Berenato has now made a debut in Texas and the party celebrated her arrival and showcase of Psyche design collections. To much delight, attendees of the party were offered the chance to have a piece of metal personally engraved by the artist. Nina Berenato hammered alphabetic letters, initials and quotes into the metal for all guests and it was a pleasure to observe her hands work. The party also featured a braid bar sponsored by PRIV, readings by Psychic Betsy, live music, dessert and wine. Tealights glowing in the background when dusk arrived.

To listen to a recording of their interview, please visit Mallow’s YouTube page or click here.

Psyche Jewelry’s mobile boutique is located at The Picnic near Zilker Park. “The Picnic is Austin’s premier food trailer park located on Barton Springs Road in the heart of Austin.” And Berenato’s mobile, to-go shop will be located here for the foreseeable future. Periodically, Austinite’s can also expect to find her at other local artisans fairs. Her jewelry designs possess a lot of metallic. A lot of gold and silver shines and tantalizes the eyes. Geometric shapes, keys, arrows and circles are evident, too. Despite the strong metallic presence, Nina Berenato intertwines colorful stones into the designs as well. Her designs are dainty and intricate, yet strong and bold. A mixture of Greek and modern day. Berenato has a refreshing skill of combining masculine and feminine to her collective.

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The jewelry collections for Psyche include the following lines: Sophosyne, Hidden Universe, Anti-Symmetry, Time Traveler, Shaman’s Trance, and Warrior. A little more about the name itself, “Psyche is the muse of Designer, Nina Berenato. The myths of the Greek goddess inspire Nina’s designs and reflect the journey toward personal growth. Nina’s work is a reminder of the defining emotions, thoughts and experiences that make each of us unique. The collections evolve with each passing season. Bridges of experience allow the past to inform the present, creating something for this moment. Something wild and beautiful. Something for our journey.”

During the media party for Psyche Jewelry, Designer Nina Berenato took the time to chat with Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow. An audio recording of the interview is included above. Take a moment to listen to Berenato speak of her childhood, learning the Greek myths during bedtime stories and how this love of the story lead her to become a jewelry designer. Take a moment to listen to the start of a journey for a jewelry designer, metalsmith and goldsmith. Within the interview, Berenato talks about her passion for design, the launch of her own branding and the learning process of designing her artistic craft. The interview also entails discussion about Berenato’s affinity for time travel, romance, authenticity and cultural influences.

To view Nina Berenato’s collections or purchase jewelry and other design pieces, please refer to Psyche Jewelry’s website at www.psyche-jewelry.com.

Psyche Jewelry To Go Mobile Boutique:

1720 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, TX 78704

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Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in April 2016.  

Crystal Works is still sparkling magic and alchemy in Austin

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Pendant of the Ancient Egyptian goddess, Isis, found at Crystal Works in Austin, Texas. Photography: Nicolette Mallow.

A local gemstone within the city of Austin, Crystal Works is a distinct boutique filled with many treasures and ancient folklore from around the world. Stock full of Swarovski crystal prisms, gemstones, aromatherapy oils, pendants, sage, books and artwork: Crystal Works is a place of alchemy, magic, spirituality and healing. From the outside, before even setting foot inside, guests notice and admire lots of individual crystals on display; dangling from the tops of the windowsill in many different shapes and sizes. Adjacent to the crystals, also levitating inside the window are authentic dream catchers with feathers and rainbow maker mobiles. The term ‘rainbow maker’ is quite literal, meaning these special crystals radiate light the colors of the rainbow. Twirling gently and elegantly with the airflow, these crystals allure and tantalize the eyes by emitting rays of rainbow-colored light beams. Color and light are key elements at Crystal Works.

Upon entrance, the moment guests do cross the doorway; all the energy in the atmosphere transforms and everything becomes particularly peaceful and calm, like standing in a meditation room. Serene music plays in the background. And amidst the serene music, echoes from rock waterfalls can be heard as the water flows about in their stone pools. Tiny bells can be heard jingling softly, too, from dream catchers, charms and spirit bells.

There is no other shop in Austin quite like it, and even the air smells differently within this local alchemist haven. According to the founder and owner, Cathleen Day, “The wonderful smell of Crystal Works comes from our many organic scents. There are no chemicals or artificially scented products. The gemstone fossils and crystals are from all over the world and their colors wash over the eye, causing a delightful endorphin cascade. The ancient folklore ascribed to the stones is intriguing and connect us with beliefs and cultures thousands of years old.”

Alongside many of the gemstones, geodes and minerals are note cards to inform guests as to what each piece represents and the healing powers they’re said to possess. The ancient folklore behind all these stones is quite interesting and there are many books that entail clearer insight into each one. For instance, black onyx gemstones are thought to provide protection. Bloodstones are believed to attract peace, healing and compassion. Tiger’s eye is a warrior stone that brings balance, whereas Rose Quartz is a stone of unconditional love.

Crystal Works is completely filled to the brim with beautiful merchandise. Whether it’s looming from the ceiling, pinned to the wall or resting on the floor, there is no space left empty. It takes several visits to regard and absorb everything Crystal Works has to offer. Some of the more expensive items are locked away in glass cases. However, most of the items can be seen and touched. On the counter tops surrounding the register is unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry made from gems and minerals, separated by colors and stones: Red, blue, violet, green and onyx. Various kinds of cards can be found, too. Educational, scientific and holistic books are stacked in the corner. Additionally there are little Buddha shrines and mirrors scattered about the shop.

For nearly 40 years Crystal Works has been in operation. The store came to be in 1977 when Cathleen Day was “admiring the rainbows from a friends’ sparkling prism and it was decided right then she wanted to begin selling them”. Since then, the shop has flourished from only selling Swarovski crystal prisms to the extensive inventory that it’s become today.

Located on the corner of 12th and Lamar near Enfield, Crystal Works is open seven days a week. Please refer to the website or Yelp for hours of operation. For more information, please call 512-472-5597 or www.crystalworksaustin.com.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in September 2015

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1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats are mascots of the night in ATX

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Amethyst Bridge Bat pendant by Franzetti Jewelers.

Overlooking Lady Bird Lake within Austin, Texas (ATX); Congress Bridge is a home for      1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. For decades bats have established themselves as one of the local and beloved mascots in ATX. And it was discovered in the 1980’s that these Mexican free-tailed bats eat millions of pounds of insects a night, including agricultural pests, ultimately providing many benefits to the city, its residents and the ecosystem.   Plus our bats are terribly endearing to the eyes and it’s kind of nice to know these nocturnal creatures are embarking on hunting flights in masses to run their little errands of the night as a great deal of the city is sound asleep.  

These bats have now become a major tourist attraction from the months of March to November. From afar they are safe and harmless with no interest in humans. But do not touch or handle one, and certainly do not trap or hunt them. The bats are only to be admired and adored from a safe distance by land or water. Visitors may even want to bring a red light past dusk. Mexican free-tailed bats are small enough to fit in your hand, but large enough to easily be seen flying aloft in the sky in mass quantities. These bats fly differently than any bird, and sometimes it looks like they are flying in circles, so pay attention to their wings and shape to know when you’re in the presence of a bat.

Despite their nocturnal nature and dark coloring, bats aren’t always quiet or stealthy. Especially when they are leaving Congress bridge in millions. Sometimes they make a lot of cute and squeaky noises as they wake up and soar away from the bridge. The bats fly similarly to big butterflies and yet their wingspan looks nothing alike and they are less graceful. Fuzzy and soft with fur that is dark brown, large ears for its size and wings similar to Marvel Comics Batman logosthese migratory bats are born with “built-in GPS and night vision”.

Reflections of water cascading from Lady Bird Lake and the bright lights of downtownmany vivid photographs can be found online to see these bats hover, play and glide through the night sky in Austin. Every night during bat season, as time passes from sunset, to dusk, to twilight: people gather around Lady Bird Lake to see the atmosphere become consumed with gusts of bats pouring out of Congress Bridge. Departing in millions after sunset beneath Congress Bridge before the bats return back around dawn. Some people like to hang out on the bridge, but a boat is another fun option.

Fortunately there are many local boat tours and city-wide destinations to discover and experience the best viewings of these beauties. Capital Cruises Internationally Famous Bat Watching Tour is a good choice and I have attended once, even thought I am a local Austinite of 20+ years. The tour only cost $10 and they take out a infrared light that glows colors of reds into the sky. Making it quite easy for the human eye to capture the live visuals of millions of bats pouring out together in droves. For locals and visitors alike, it’s a remarkable sight to see! Sitting on an electronic boat, watching the bats can be rather hypnotizing and exhilarating to watch. As if the bats are putting on a show for us all, without any of the cruelty of a standard zoo or a traveling animal circus. However I do recommend choosing the covered boat as these bats are just waking from a deep sleep.

According to Bat Conservation International, “When engineers reconstructed the Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980 they had no idea that new crevices beneath the bridge would make an ideal bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it was headline news when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. Reacting in fear and ignorance, many people petitioned to have the bat colony eradicated. About that time, Merlin Tuttle brought BCI to Austin and told the city the surprising truth: that bats are gentle and incredibly sophisticated animals; that bat-watchers have nothing to fear if they don’t try to handle bats; and that on the nightly flights out from under the bridge, the Austin bats eat from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects, including agricultural pests. As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America. With up to 1.5 million bats spiraling into the summer skies, Austin now has one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions anywhere.”

In 2007, the city of Austin changed the name of the reservoir running beneath Ann W. Richards Congress Bridge from Town Lake to Lady Bird Lake. The name change was a controversy in-and-of itself as the Former First Lady of the United States, nicknamed Lady Bird Johnson, was against the idea of naming this lake after her and wished for it to remain as is. However, when she passed away the city opted to change the reservoirs name in honor of all the hard work, dedication and endless support that Claudia Alta Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson bestowed upon the state of Texas. Particularly her involvement with the Town Lake Beautification Project in Austin: the state capital of The Lone Star State.

Thankfully these special and unique Mexican bats living on Lady Bird Lake beneath Congress Bridge are forever protected by the city, solely because of individuals like Lady Bird Johnson and Merlin Tuttle. However, Austin’s love for bats exceeds far beyond Congress Bridge. Bat-related art and merchandise can be found all over the city at many local gift shops. Franzetti Jewelers is a perfect example of a local company that has taken a mascot of the city and turned it into beautiful jewelry. Designing necklaces, rings and pendants; Franzetti Jewelers offers silver and gold, bat-inspired jewelry with stones of garnet, blue topaz, citrine, peridot, onyx, amethyst, smoky quartz and white quartz.

For more information regarding the Mexican free-tail bats of Austin and the best times to find them this summer and fall under Congress Bridge, please consult www.batcon.org.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in July 2015.

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