When the HSF Art challenge came up, there were plenty of things I wanted to make, but I wanted something I could make quickly. So I decided to treat myself to a new set of bling in the form of a couple of new necklaces. Now, much as I'd love to use real pearls and gemstones, without a real life patron, that's just not going to happen. Both necklaces are also slightly ahead of my period of study, but shush, we can fogive that of such pretty things.
My first neklace drew inspiration from Dürer's Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, 1505. So I picked up set of glass beads and pearls, and set to making. My first attempt at making the "pearl and amethyst" necklace involved a much more modern bead weaving technique. I was happy with it until I made the matching bracelet for a friend (before she actually steals my shinies) using a more simple stringing technique.... so yes, that one was swiftly restrung and I'm much happier with the result.
If you'll pardon my lack of ability to pose, I'm quite happy with the end result. Bicone beads would have given a better visual result, but that'll have to wait for the next incarnation of the necklace.
The second necklace was inspired by Portrait of a Woman by Bastiano Mainardi, from the second half of the 15th century. Learning from the last experience, I continued with simple stringing, and tried not to worry about the fact that without modern jewellery wire, the beads just plain were not going to stay exactly where I wanted them to. As I made this I was a little worried about the weight; so many glass beads really add up. I used spare glass pearls from the previous project as spacer beads, and to to help make the cross for what I imagined was the focal point of the original necklace.
I love this one so much! It sits so perfectly in place, and I've already been commissioned to make another one in blue.
For both necklaces, I made up a simple wire clasp with gold wire. I decided on this course originally because in all my trawling of museums and their extant 16th century neck pieces, none of them were thoughtful enough to show any pictures of the clasp, detailed or no. However, based on the speculation that if they had hook and eye clasps in 1st and 2nd century(ish) jewellery, and were still using them in the 19th century, I think I'm safe to assume they were at least still in use in 15th and 16th centuries, even if that's not what was used on the original necklaces.
Now, one of the really interesting things I discovered about this project was in the research. I knew that the pearls industry was tightly regulated - in 1502, the production of false pearls in Venice was punishable by the loss of the right hand and a ten year exile, such was the city's reputation for real pearl work. But what surprised me was that coloured stones to imitate gem stones were also in abundance, being produced with glass, foils, or slivers of real gemstones; imitation diamonds were being cut from rock crystal or glass. Perhaps my necklaces weren't so inaccurate after all!
The Challenge: HSF #10: Art
Fabric: : None - glass beads and glass pearls with silk thread and gold wire.
Pattern: None, I devised the string pattern myself from observing the portraits.
Year: Conceivable as 16th century jewellery
Notions: Made my own jewellery clasps
How historically accurate is it? About 75%. The beads are undoubtly not produced with period methods and almost certainly the wrong cut for the period.
Hours to complete: 2-3 hours per necklace.
First worn: Festival of Fools, and I love them so.
Total cost: I haven't used up all of my supplies, but I don't want to work out the cost down to the last bead, so I'm going to put the price of this project at €32.
Jewellery - From Antiquity to the Present, Clare Phillips
A History of Jewllery 1100 - 1870, Joan Evans