Friday, June 22, 2012

Hair pins

17th century copper alloy bodkin/hairpin

Anyone else super excited by the recent Catherine de Medici hair pin find for reasons other than the fact that is was found in a communal toilet? I was really thrilled, both by the interlocking initials (beating Coco Chanel to it by several centuries) and the fact that it apparently has some enamel coloring to make it green and white for Catherine's heraldry.

I had loads of fun last year making my hairpins based on the 16th century Venetian example held in the Met. I've worn them quite a bit and was excited to make more hair jewelry but hadn't really found anything in portraits I was excited by that wouldn't require major lapidary skills I do not possess.

Seeing the Catherine de Medici pin with its interlocking initials and hints regarding the enamel that make it green and white to match her personal colors got me excited. So, I went browsing to see what other 16th and early 17th century pins I could turn up. I found several at the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Granted, they're English, but there is some interesting stuff. I really liked this rectangular early 17th century pin. The issue is it might be Flemish and more likely something worn by a working class woman as a bride or to a festival. I like this more ovoid one as well but  it runs into the problem of whether it is a dress accessory rather than hair jewelry. Not that things have to be all or nothing. The bodkin pictured above is from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum.  They have the probability that it might have found use as a hair ornament as part of the item's description. I know I certainly cross uses with my textile tools and jewelry. They all find their way into my hair at some point. My fancy beaded crochet hooks probably get used as hairsticks more frequently than for making afghans. Not to mention the fact that my favorite handcarved dymondwood hairstick gets used more often than not as an awl for eyelets. It has a wonderful taper and is just a little bit larger than my stilletto and the awl that was purchased for the purpose of lacing holes.

So, pretty hairpins are on the agenda. The only question is, in what form? I could do something with beads and wire again. I've also got some nice headpins that wouldn't need much modification. Then there's casting. I've got enough space to carve something on the soapstone I've got and I just ordered two pounds of pewter that will be here in a couple of weeks. The issue is whether or not I have the patience to wait that long.

In other news, the binding on the bodies is done and I've got the petticoat cut and the long seams sewn. I need to attach the canvas guards, determine if I'm going to add rope channels, and get it pleated into the waistband. Not to mention loads and loads of eyelets to do on the bodies.

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