May the Porcelain Be With You
Angela Rossi’s mother was an avid antiques dealer and collector. After recently downsizing, Rossi found herself in the possession of the castoffs, mainly old decorative plates.
“Some were portrait plates with demure ladies posed in proper positions and big fluffy dresses. They were all beautiful, with hand-painted details, gold accents, wonderful porcelain—but in reality, they did not exactly match my modern, urban style. So, were they useless?” Rossi asks, rhetorically. “No, I must make them cool again.”
And so Rossi, through a digital transfer and heat technique, started transferring images of Darth Vader, Yoda, R2-D2, punk rockers, Uncle Fester, circus freaks and serial killers onto the delicate, demure plates. They run for $25 to $75, and they are the ultimate in juxtaposition of modern and heirloom, of hard and soft, of pretty and—as in the case of the Ted Bundy tin plate framed with a cutesy citrus theme—ugly.
And suddenly, “grandma chic” got interesting again.
Though now a resident of Los Angeles, Rossi is a former Orange Countian, having gone to Concordia and Chapman universities for her undergraduate and master’s degrees, respectively.
She started up her Etsy storefront, BeatUpCreations (beatupcreations.etsy.com), after losing her job.
“I never thought that I would be an artist or craftsman,” she explains. “I always wanted to create, but I just never had the time because I was so lost in the 9-to-5 shuffle. Both my brother and father are professional artists, real talented artists, and I just never thought my creations or ideas were good enough to pursue. Losing my job has been a blessing!”
BeatUpCreations hawks some off-kilter, fun items. In addition to the lovably unorthodox plates with Chewie and the gang, Rossi also creates cut-and-paste sculptures: “Timmy the Geeky Gazelle” ($125) has an antique porcelain-doll head; taxidermied-gazelle horns; and a body constructed from plastic army men, a vintage handblown goblet, reindeer moss and a Care Bear, with fondue forks for legs. With its bright-blue eyes and large lashes contrasted with, well, everyone else, it looks like a Toy Story extra from Sid’s back yard.
Other than on Etsy, you can find Rossi’s pieces everywhere from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trentino, Italy, and Boutique in Australia to Tedda Hughes Gallery Boutique in San Francisco and Gallery Aferro in New Jersey.
While the decorative plates—I’ve got my eye on a seriously fabulous floral Chewbacca plate with die-cut petal-like edges—are the most popular items for BeatUpCreations, Rossi’s line of altered brooches ($19.99) and pendants ($69) is also equal parts dark, cute and tongue-in-cheek. Rossi takes antique hand-painted porcelain brooches and heat transfers and seals on images of the usual suspects.
“Wearing these always makes others smile,” Rossi says. “Or they could be laughing at me.”
This column appeared in print as "The Porcelain Is Strong in This One."
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