Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bronzino's c1550 Portrait of a Lady project: Belt

(This is my ACC project, just renamed and slowly continued...)

I've always loved the belt on my inspiration portrait:
It was the first time I'd ever seen a cameo in 1500s Italian jewelry, which was really exciting for me because I love seeing how the same themes/styles are repeated in Italy through the centuries.  Cameos were popular during Roman times, usually depicting deities and emperors/empresses.  They phased in and out of use over the centuries, but they never disappeared completely.  Even though I can't see who is depicted in this cameo, it seems to have the classic styling of a Roman cameo.  For my belt, I chose a mother-of-pearl cameo and set it into a gold plated setting:

Another fun element in this belt are the two little faces on either side of the cameo.  I like to think that they are lion's heads, since the symbol of Venice is St. Mark's winged lion:
A while ago, good friend of mine gave me a pair of earrings that were little jeweled cat heads, saying they reminded her of my zibies and wondering if I could use them in my jewelry.  With a few modifications, they fit in perfectly with this project!  I cut the earring posts off and drilled a hole in the back of each head so I could pass the beading wire through them.  I love the way they match the overall style of  the belt and the way they help me match the feel of the portrait.  Besides all that, I think they add such an adorable touch!  (Just look at their tineh toofers!)

None of the pictures that I could find of this portrait showed the whole tassel at the end of the drop.  This is frustrating because I wasn't sure what to make.  Finally, I found a picture that showed probably half of it, so I had something to work with!  I still couldn't tell if the tassel was made from metal, metal thread, or silk thread, so I decided to just have fun and make something that looked similar but let me play with beaded netting, something I don't get to use often enough, in my opinion!  :)  I netted metal beads and Swarovski crystals around a German crystal drop for the top of the tassel, then made a kind of multi-layer frame for the chain part to hang from.  I incorporated red Swarovski crystals into the outside layer of chain to mimic the gems on the portrait's tassel.  Here are a few pics of the construction of the tassel:

All the bits and parts, including the completed netted crystal drop:

The first, inner layer:

The second, middle, layer.  This is made up of several simple chandelier findings layered into a circle arrangement:

The third, outside, layer.  Here I attached chain around the edges of a round filigree finding.  I also added Swarovski crystals to the edges of the filigree:

Threading the three layers together along with the netted drop:

The completed tassel.  There are several things that I'd do differently if I make another chain tassel like this, but overall I'm pretty happy with it!

The drop and waist portions were pretty straightforward stringing.  I used bead caps and findings with Swarovski crystal to approximate the feel of the portrait's belt.  I really love the way this belt turned out!  It has a wonderful, heavy feel to it, and a ton of sparkle without being gaudy.  I'm hoping Noelle and I get my new gown done before Collegium so I can wear it!
Noelle took some pictures of me wearing my new set (belt, earrings, necklace) with the gown she's sewing for me (which I absolutely LOVE!).

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