Nearly two years ago, Beth Bugdaycay, the co-founder and designer of the New York jewelry brand Foundrae, purchased six jewel-toned glass seals enclosed in a velvet box no larger than the palm of her hand. She added the seals, made in the style of the Scottish modeler James Tassie around the turn of the 19th century, to her already extensive collection, which has often served as inspiration for the engraved medallions, rings and earrings that make up her four-year-old line. “I started to think of this secondary meaning of the word — a seal not as a stamp but as a guarantee or a promise,” she says. “To me, the jewelry pieces are promises we make to ourselves about what we want or where we’re going.” In this case, her vintage find gave rise to a small collection of 18-karat gold symbols suspended within gemstones like garnet and rose quartz. But it also led Bugdaycay in an entirely new direction: housewares.
This month, Foundrae launches a 15-piece collection of carafes, shakers and tumblers rendered in richly colored glass, from citrine to aquamarine, and engraved with various emblems, many of which relate to the classical elements: Earth is represented with an outline of mountaintops; ether, which Bugdaycay describes as “the element of the spirit,” with an image of a circle made up of keys. The tumblers, meanwhile, are marked with animals, including a rabbit meant to signify abundant love and a ram meant to embody perseverance. After a long search, Bugdaycay found the right producer while on vacation in the Turkish beach town of Cesme, where in a small shop she discovered a heavy glass carafe with hand-engraved florals. It was by the Istanbul-based artist Feleksan Onar, who was born on Turkey’s Aegean coast in an area where glassmaking dates back to the Roman Empire, and who was eager to collaborate. The resulting pieces come with corresponding coasters explaining each symbol. The one accompanying a tumbler with a seal of a horse cites William Ernest Henley’s 1875 poem “Invictus”: “I am the master of my fate, / I am the captain of my soul.”