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... :-)


  1. This is so brilliant! I love your lute design; it's so finely executed. You have got the brush style of the century down pat.

    1. Thank you! Well, one learns a lot through copying... :-)