Sunday, October 20, 2013

Belt buckle

I have been somewhat obsessed with cut steel jewellery and -buckles lately and typical late Georgian belt buckles in particular. Buckles with miniature paintings are adorable indeed, but I find the ones with Wedgwood plaques lovelier still...

"Cupid unmasked".

Unfortunately, these specimens are hard to come by for most reenactors, especially those who don't have hundreds or thousands of £/$ to spend on the real thing.
So, I've wanted to make one by myself for a while, with whatever suitable materials that I could find. I didn't quite think the construction through to start with, I just started with buying a porcelain blank for the decorative "medallion".... The idea was that the result was going to look a bit like this rather famous example below, from the Kyoto costume institute...

So I painted the blank in watercolour, using a cute design from a fan leaf (below), and sealed the painting with spray lacquer. 
Commissioning a silver (or steel!) setting from a gold smith was, of course, out of the question for both practical and economical reasons. I went around and looked for suitable belt blanks and oval pieces of metal that could be used, to no avail.
The idea was to glue the porcelain blank onto the metal piece and then glue cut-steel-looking rivets or beads around the edges. Then the buckle slides, which were to be made out of thick metal wire and bended to shape, could be soldered to the surface on the backside. Or something.

That didn't work, I only found sheets of very thin metal with extremely sharp edges. And it rusted as well! 

But despite all that, I still managed to make a rather decent looking buckle...

First, I made an oval "setting" in cernit clay (sculpey) and baked it. Then the porcelain blank was stuck to the surface with super glue. The "cut steel" beads of faceted glass were threaded onto a very thin metal wire and glued around the edges. Holes were drilled on the backside and then I glued the bended pieces of metal wire into the holes. And voila!

If you intend to make one for yourself, however, make sure that the metal pieces are of the same length and also that the holes are correctly placed, otherwise the buckle will hang askew on the belt/sash.

Well, now I'm only looking for an occasion to wear it... :-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shepherdess fan

I just managed to finish yet another delightful, glittering little thing in late 1780s-1790s style (available for purchase on Etsy, as usual).

I have used a print in the vignette yet again... It's not that I'm lazy, but they used printed leaves a lot back in the days and it does save time for me. Still, this fan ended up as quite expensive because of all the work I put into the sticks, and the fabric covering on the reverse side of the leaf etc.etc.

 Oh yes, the Chinese bamboo sticks turned out to be a challenge... as is so often the case. I used "natural" (unpainted) ones this time, and in order to make them look a *little* more like real 18th century sticks I sawed off the annoying extra 2 cms of obviously-modern-Chinese fan-stick-length below the pivot... and sanded it to shape. I also had to take the whole thing apart to be able to paint the sticks in ivory colour - and put the sticks together again and replace the pivot, of course.

I do wonder why those sticks are never available in white. They are always black, unpainted or brown. Oh well...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mint green music

All right, this is my latest fan... A print by Bartolozzi called "Music" is decoupaged onto a paper leaf in the delightful colour scheme of mint green, silver and black.

 Oh yes, it's another one of those decoupage fans... I still love lavish silk fans littered with sequins and embroidery et cetera, but unfortunately, making them is just too time consuming and unprofitable.

As a lover of music and most shades of green and silver (and black!), I might have kept it, but since I know that I can always make myself a new fan, I usually end up selling most of them off. So, the fan is available on Etsy together with a mended "Beauty&Love" from my last blog post.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The fragility of Beauty

Yesterday I finished a new lovely fan (featuring an engraving* by Bartolozzi after Cipriani called "The triumph of Beauty and Love") and was just about to take some photos and put it up for sale on Etsy...

And what happened?!

After opening the thing, very carefully, for the third time or so...

Well, at least it made me gather strength enough to update my blog after all those months of inactivity. At least no one had the misfortune of buying it before it broke. And at least I know that I should NEVER ever use recycled plastic sticks again, since plastic has a sad tendency to become more fragile with age. Why then did I use these sticks in the first place? They were a gift, and they could pass for 18th century and tortoiseshell at a quick glance, even though they are too small for the period (about 23 cms spanning a mere 43 cms) and have that annoying pseudo-19th-centuryish U-shaped loop attached to the pivot (which can be removed anyway).

Now what should I do: mend it and keep it as a disposable fan or just throw the darn thing away? Or is anyone mad enough to buy it for less than half the intended price of $227 = $75?

*A printed COPY of the engraving of course ;-)