“I really didn’t know anything about jewelry-making. I didn’t know how to make jewelry.
I didn’t know anything about glass. But I figured, that’s how you do things.”
Tucked into a nook in a pocket park in historic River Oaks sits an English Tudor-style house filled with enough soul to last many lives. No tabletop is clear. There are objects throughout– mementos of a well-lived life. Jeweler MARIQUITA MASTERSON explains, “We did tabletop things in Mexico. This is a garlic. That’s a little mustard spoon. I have all kind of wonderful things here. I don’t know what everything is, but it’s nice. That’s a handle for something…”
We are here to talk about Mariquita’s career designing and creating her eponymous collection of glass jewelry, which began in 1983. (Right from the beginning, it was embraced by women like PATTY HUBBARD, NINA WICKMAN, CAROLINE LAW and a few of the BUSH clan.) Little did we know, we were in for a treat because she was really sharing a peek into her charmed life, a life she’s created.
Born in Mexico City, where she attended university before coming to Houston, Mariquita met STUART MASTERSON at a deb party and married him in 1957. They had five children – and while I am there (on two different visits), she was fielding phone calls from any one of them. They are all involved in some capacity with the business. “CHARLES manufactures/fabricates wonderful furniture that he designs, so he’s involved by making furniture for the studio. STUART, the oldest, was instrumental in setting it up as a business. And HARRY is a partner – he’s designed some things that are wonderful. Of course, LIBBY is there a lot. GEORGE is the money man of the family. He’s not into the arts. He’s very practical. And my granddaughter NINA is the manager. It’s small and it’s nice.”
As the fairy tale in jewelry-making goes, Mariquita was meeting with stained glass artist DAN EBERDALE in a little shop on Waugh. She had commissioned him to create about 250 votives in the style of Calder for a Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Gala she was co-chairing when she noticed squiggles of glass on the shop floor. Eberdale remembers Mariquita wandering around the shop, seeing something on the floor, and she said, “Gosh, this would make cool jewelry. And that was it.”
Remembers Mariquita, “I really didn’t know anything about jewelry-making. I didn’t know how to make jewelry. I didn’t know anything about glass. But I figured, that’s how you do things.” She took classes, went to Pilchuck (Glass School) one year, and to Corning (Museum of Glass) several years. “I was able to go for a few weeks at a time, because the children were older. And I was really happy that I had gotten married, had the children and then I could play with the jewelry.”
Today, the collection is available through her store on River Oaks Boulevard, TOOTSIES and Julian Gold. “It hasn’t grown very large because family was first. I guess I could have done something and been marketed and done all sorts of things like a David Yurman, but you know I wasn’t interested in that. I didn’t want to mess up what I have here and have to really be so focused on it. It was perfect.” We’d have to agree.