Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I spent most of yesterday pearling the mantellino. Just 4 motifs left to go. As pearls were the theme of the day, I thought I'd go back and show you the first girdle I made as it is pearls and gold.

I had the circle disks hanging around after purchasing them on clearance and had oodles of freshwater pearls that I'd picked up cheaply from the Gem Faire back in June. The pearls are sort of a problem as the have holes too small for any of my beading needles and won't take a second pass of string through them and are far too large for embroidering with. As a result, they really haven't been all that useful. However, as I said, I have a lot of them. Making a girdle for me takes a lot of whatever it is I use, so they seemed like a likely candidate. The gold disks are set up to sit on two strands and two strands of pearls seemed pretty. One of my favorite Venetian necklaces in portrait has two strands of pearls. (Albrecht Durer's 1505 Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman.)
I'm plotting a green dress this spring and it is on my "must make" list.

However, pretty pearl necklaces being documentable does not mean pretty pearl girdles are. In looking over the portraits in my little chunk of time, it seems that they are all pretty much exclusively gold. Most don't have any visible "drop" either. Thick links at the waist seem to be the most common. However, in the portrait I just finished working with, Camilla's girdle had two drops that were very definite, one to the zibellino and one that her son is playing with. Its still very gold, however. I did find one portrait with a pearl girdle on a Venetian dress. Its from a 1565 fresco by Giovanni Antollio Fasolo. It might still be gold backed, however, with the pearls simply mounted to the gold. (And have a look at the entire piece, its pretty cool. I love the colorful print skirt of her dress.

So, basically, I'm not sure if I'll wear the girdle with this dress. Its pretty, but it seems more English in style to me. My portrait doesn't have a girdle at all to be honest, and I'm not sure the pearls will look right with the crisp lines of the patchwork as the only decoration and the colors. I fretted about it for a couple of days and then went on to make a primarily gold girdle. I'll show you that soon, but I suppose I should wrap up telling you about the girdle itself.

These freshwater pearls, as I've said, did not want to be cooperative and let me do multiple passes of stringing material. I eventually just strung them straight on a 28 gauge wire. I'm rather nervous about how the whole thing will hold up with the weight that any girdle for me automatically is, but that's the largest gauge I could get through the holes. I put the clasp at the back of the waist so there would be as little fiddling as possible. After considering making a pomander, and even starting to carve one, I just chickened out of that and found the tassel on the end at Hobby Lobby. If I end up using this, its $5 more of my budget used.

While I was at it, I strung a simple pearl necklace and threw together a set of earrings. I'm pretty definite on wanting to wear the necklace, but I'm not so sure about the earrings. They might get put aside with the girdle for another project.

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