Monday, September 12, 2011

Interview with Deb of Bunnies Can Dream and Harlequin & Lionhead

This week's featured member interview is with Debbie Liu, owner of two of the 5 Boroughs Team's jewelry shops.  Deb comes to NYC via the lovely city of Hong Kong and is also the creative genius and force of nature behind this lovely blog. :)
Interview by Jessica of Hans-My-Hedgehog.

J: Deb, how is it that you've come to have two shops?

D: I have 2 shops, both are jewelry but are quite different.

Bunnies Can Dream features everyday jewelry that combines colors and textures through metal findings, gemstones, glass, ribbons and macrame techniques. With this collection, I want to create versatile jewelry that would brighten up your wardrobe, inspire imagination, and put a smile on your face in everyday mundane life.

Harlequin&Lionhead features fashion jewelry made with precious metal or are 24K gold plated. The driving spirit behind this line is to capture the transient beauty of our everyday life in metal. The process involves wax and metal sculpting and various metalsmithing processes at a New York studio to bring my designs to life.

J: Wow, that's amazing that you have the energy and skills for two totally different collections of jewelry.  I see that both shop names have to do with rabbits. Can you tell us more about this point of inspiration?

D: The names of the shops are inspired by my 2 rabbit friends, Toffee and Charcoal. Toffee was a Harlequin breed, he passed away 2 years ago at a prime age of 8. Charcoal is now an elderly of 10 and he is probably the most handsome Lionhead in the world.


J: What gave you the inspiration to start your shop?

D: I started making things because I was quite upset at work and I needed a channel to vent my creativity and to take my mind off things.

I was inspired by the color and texture of amazing gemstones and lampwork glass beads I discovered in findings stores near my work place after we moved our office in 2008. I want to make jewelry that would remind the wearer of the sky, sunshine, ocean, forest, delicious desserts...anything that takes you to a happy place. That's how I started "Bunnies Can Dream". My first couple pieces are the "Blueberry Fields Bracelet" and a now-sold-out piece called "Bracelet of a Mermaid." They were conceived when I was stuck indoors ;)

Blueberry Fields Bracelet

I think if I have a stress-free life I probably would not have started making things. People say creativity flourishes in distress. It is certainly the case with me, so I guess in a way, my slave life at the agency was an inspiration!

J: After working at an ad agency, how did you learn to cast metals? Those two pursuits don't go together!

D: Later in 2010, after I resigned from my day job, I went to a jewelry school for silversmithing. I fell in love with wax carving and casting, which allows me to bring my imagination to life through metal. And I started "Harlequin&Lionhead" with the first collection that features clusters of small roses in different forms.

Adjustable 24 gold plated rose ring

J: Do you regret quitting your day job?

D: Not at all. Although I am not as productive as I was working and I still can't really make a living out of my shops, I have more time to learn and craft.  I am also able to gain an invaluable experience of selling at handmade markets. Interacting with retail customers and learning from fellow crafters really opened my eyes. I have made some very good friends and it is almost strange to have strangers who are willing to help just out of their own good will, especially after all these years in the corporate world and living in HK/NY where no one bothers to ask their neighbor's names! I know I am a lucky girl. This period is probably the happiest days in my adult life.

When you realize that you don't need chocolate to keep you sane at work, you know it is the right job for you.

J: Haha, that's true! Although I think chocolate helps the creative juices to flow as well!  Where do you work now?

D: For Bunnies Can Dream, I make everything on my couch or next to Charcoal on the floor in the house. It is quite crazy...I have a mini tea tray that I bought from Michael's, and inside is a piece of thin foam that catches beads and findings. I usually craft with Bravo shows on TV. But since Project Runaway has been moved to Lifetime, I have that on the list with The Golden Girls, hahahah!

With Harlequin&Lionhead, I make some of the wax models at home on my little Ikea 16" wide folding table. The rest of the work is mostly done out of a studio in Manhattan and 3rd Ward in Brooklyn.

I took all the pictures in my shop by myself on top of my bedroom dresser top, and under the sky roof. All you really need is good light, a camera with a LED display, a mirror and a long arm!

I know, my setup is pretty pathetic. But you work with what you got!

J: Someday you will have a beautiful, spacious studio. I work on my couch as well! Haha. What is your next project?

D: For Bunnies Can Dream, I am recently obsessed with macrame hoops. I am almost growing out of it (I hope!)
Macrame Hoops Bib Necklace in Plum

For Harlequin&Lionhead, I am working on a few things but I am most excited with a new metallic feather series inspired by Alexander McQueen. I hope I can launch it in time for X'mas.
I am also working on a collaborative project with HansMyHedgehog. But that is a top secret...Your readers will have to come to my blog to find out more later.

Alexander McQueen's Black Feather Dress

J: I think I know a little about it :), but everyone else will be surprised! Thanks for the interview, Deb!


  1. Great interview! I can't wait to hear about the secret project!

  2. I hope it will be made in time for Jessica and my show at Craft in Chelsea but I've been a little slow lately with creating new work...I'll try my best!

  3. okay, so I'm intrigued. Can't wait to see what you and Jess are cooking up. I'm sure it will be great.

    Really nice interview ... I love getting to know more about our members