No offense to any of our previous leading ladies, but this one is hands-down tops on every list in our life. 

We are both honored and incredibly proud to introduce our beautiful and talented May Leading Lady, Debbie Wheat, mother (and the endless list that comes with that) of Elva Fields designer Emily Wheat Maynard.  Though the particulars of this blog post may not allow for adequate or nearly thorough enough explanation of the ways in which she has made us who we are (starting with the obvious of having us in the first place) suffice it to say Deb is amazing.  She is a self-taught gourmet chef, an insanely talented artist (from fourth-grade dioramas to furniture restoration and everything in-between), without question one of the most thoughtful and kind people on the planet (we're still waiting to see if that trait was handed down...seriously no one more giving than this woman), a nurturing and caring mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother, and friend to many (but particularly her two Kentucky-based granddaughters who, it must be said, think she is the bees knees as evidenced by the amount of times they want to call her during the course of any average day), and one of the wisest women most will ever meet.  (Though it pains me somewhat to admit it, her advice is almost always spot-on.). She's our Leading Lady any and every day of the week, and since May is the month for mothers, and especially because this mother had a fun shin-dig to attend that required some fairly fancy dress codes, we though Deb would be the perfect fit for our feature this month.

She stopped by the studio a few weeks before she'd be heading to Texas to celebrate a fun and special occasion with one of her dearest college friends.   Buccaneer Days is celebrated annually in Corpus Christi and, after and among rodeos, dances, concerts, parades, and much fanfare in the city, a court of lovely young Duchesspesos presented at a glittering and grand Coronation.  As it turns out, Deb's college friend's daughter would have the honor and privilege of being a Duchess of the royal court, an assignment that entailed not only a season of luncheons and cocktail parties, but the most elaborate beaded creations for each gal to be featured in the pageantry of the royal event.   Not to be missed, so Deb had the dress....but needed some jewels fit for such an occasion before heading West.

Her gown was a gorgeous shade of rich royal blue--silk taffeta with a full skirt, belted waist, and gathered portrait collar screaming for some fabulous Elva.  At first we tried beads of faceted clear crystal and silver to pick up the sparkle of the rhinestone buckle...but they seemed to disappear around the neck.  When we considered adding some glittering rhinestone brooches at the side for a bit of extra interest, they were overwhelmed by the fabric at the neckline.  (It's a good thing Deb is patient...chalk that up to her many virtues!). It became clear that color would be best...but with blue and silver being her designated Duchess colors (each gal and her entourage are assigned a color scheme) we needed to stick with shades of royal.   We proceeded to pull every deep shade of blue and silver in the studio to see what might work...and the layered pile began to form a wonderful collage of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors...


As we both looked at the beads, we began nodding in agreement.  This could work.  Multiple (endless?) strands of interesting beads, somewhat jumbled in an artful arrangement, no extra adornment in a brooch or pendant, and a fabulous clasp...just a mass of fabulousness to highlight the beautiful color and simplicity of her gown.  Let's do it.

It took a team effort, but we strung each style separately on wire--nearly 17 in all--from beads of crystal and African glass to pearls and sapphires, and artfully attached the strands to a silver clasp from India.  We only wondered if Deb's neck would be up to the task of wearing this substantial style from cocktails to dance floor.

The day before her departure, Deb returned to the studio for her fitting...and we both were curious about how the look would come together.  "Stunning" would be our description, though having nothing to do with jewelry and everything to do with Deb.  

  • Posted byEmily Maynard /


  • Posted On October 12, 2012 by Tom and Phyllis Gardner

    With the VP debates in Danville, KY our thoughts ran to your Mom and Dad. Flash back to 1972 and your Dad was best man in our wedding. So enjoyed reading your tribute to your Mom. Such a special talented, loving woman. Please send her our best wishes. P.S. Gorgeous necklace. Emily, you certainly have the family talent!

  • Posted On May 24, 2012 by Heidi

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mom. She is one in a million and the necklace you made for her Texas adventure is gorgeous.

  • Posted On May 24, 2012 by Linda Pittman

    “bees knees”…I love it! One of the best compliments a grandmother could hope for. I sure hope I’m that to my 5 grandchildren :) Emily, your mother is beautiful…yes, stunning is the word!

  • Posted On May 24, 2012 by Duchess' Mother

    Your description of Deb a/k/a Mom wsa SPOT ON! Even the delicious Elva jewels she wore the entire time could not hold a candle to the beauty of Deb!

  • Posted On May 23, 2012 by Lori

    Wonderful!!!!! I love you Deb!

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