Shorthand Collection

Shorthand Collection

The Shorthand Collection was inspired by Mariko’s paternal grandmother, Roma Joleen Marshall Busch. Joleen was raised in the very small town of Alice, Texas where she excelled in shorthand in school. At that time, shorthand symbols were practiced and memorized, allowing for rapid handwritten notation that could later be transcribed in full. Following WWII, and upon graduating high school, Joleen left Texas for California where she put her shorthand skills to use while working for a motor company in Los Angeles. Not long after her arrival,  the dictaphone began to replace the need for live dictation and shorthand fell out of use. 
 
One day in 2019, when Mariko was visiting Joleen in her assisted living community, Joleen casually handed her a copy of the Miniature Gregg Shorthand Dictionary (pictured below) that she carried with her in the 1940s. Joleen was in the process of parting with some of her possessions and asked Mariko if she wanted it. The beautiful, ancient looking symbols that were so commonplace and utilitarian for Joleen, were absolutely mesmerizing to us. How could these incredibly beautiful symbols have essentially disappeared from use within a lifetime? What was just another skill women of Joleen’s generation had to learn in order to succeed in 1940s America, was a true art form to us and much too special to let go of completely. Thus, the Shorthand Collection was born. 
 
The original pendant created for the Shorthand Collection is a hand carved design, what we now call our Tablet Necklace. The idea was to create something that looked like it had been discovered half buried in the sand of the past, similar to the practice of shorthand itself. After carving the first pendant in wax and casting it in gold, we decided on a sandblast finish, further referencing the worn-with-time element. We both looked through Joleen’s original miniature Gregg Shorthand Dictionary and settled upon two words that felt true to the sentiment of this collection. We made our samples using these two symbols, engraved by hand in downtown L.A. by a talented artist we have worked with since EMBLM’s inception.
“Love” – a universal emotion that was also personally reflected in Mariko’s connection to her grandmother. 
“Ablaze” – a word that conjures up images of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, breaking down old barriers to reveal a new possibility, something women and marginalized members of society have continued to do with every generation. 
 
Our Custom Tablet Necklace can be customized with the shorthand symbol of your choice, limited only by the availability of words symbolized during shorthand’s common use. 
 
We have also expanded the Shorthand Collection to include our Initial Necklace, a circular pendant with a high polished finish, evocative of an ancient coin that has been smoothed with use. During the social uprisings of 2020, we felt it imperative to make an artistic statement and engraved our Initial Necklace with the shorthand symbol for “Justice.” All profits from sales of the Justice Necklace are donated to the ACLU, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the freedoms and civil liberties of all Americans
 
In an era where everything is moving at warp speed, and content is being produced at an exponential rate, it’s important to ground ourselves in the history that has inspired some of our designs. By honoring the women who came before us, who excelled in the positions available to them while forging new paths and taking risks in order to create new spaces for themselves in society, we pay respect to them for paving the way. 

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