Monday, April 18, 2016

Plans for the rest of the jewelry

While I was squinting at closeups of Eleonora's jewelry, I ran across the motherlode of information and have to share it with you. Laura Marsolek, a bench jeweler and 2013 of Syracuse University with an interest in jewelry history just so happened to do her Honor's Capstone Project on the jewelry in Bronzino's double portrait. Even better, the paper (all 109 pages of info drenched goodness) is available free to the public.  Her third chapter is all about her own experience making a version of the belt section of the girdle (no drop or tassel,) the pendant and necklace, and a couple of dozen sleeve pins. The cherry on top? She has pictures of the recreation made using her modern knowledge and information gained from Cellini's treatise on goldwork. There are pictures in the thesis, but better ones on her commercial site. Please go drool.

While I wish I could just do my own version of her way, I unfortunately have no experience with the casting of bronze and don't know anyone locally who does. Nor do I have the ability to sink money into tools just now. So I will be making do with what I have. What I have is pewter casting equipment, purchased with prize money from IRCC II in fact, so it seems apropos to use them for this. I know several very talented pewterers to pester for advice, as well. I also have the tools and chemicals for acid etching brass, soldering stuff, and a whole lot of faux enamelling things.

So here's the current break down of my plans. First, the necklace. The pendant causes its own issues because it features a large laurel wreath. That makes it unlikely that I can wear it at any place I could wear the dress as it would be in an SCA context and I am not a Laurel and therefore can't wear the wreath.  This creates the problem of whether to do a different piece of jewelry or not. Conveniently, since there are 3 similar but different portraits, one comes with a solution. The Walter's portrait doesn't have the wreath. It is just the central quatrafoil setting with central diamond and pendant pearl. TrulyHats happens to carry a gold quatrafoil setting as part of the recent products Truly had made for her Katherine Parr reproduction. I thought I'd see if the large ouch would work. Or if it could be the base for some further embellishment. I plan to do the same thing with the quatrafoil settings that alternate in the girdle. Eleonora has diamonds and rubies as well as a single emerald cabachon. These alternate with 5 rosette links. The gems are in quatrafoils that are surrounded by cut branches called braccone. I think I can make the branch surround and solder them to the quatrafoils. The rosette links I'm going to cut out of sheet brass and acid etch, then enamel. The tassel head plan is also to cut it from brass, then hammer and solder it into the bell shape necessary and etch and enamel. As I'm a pearl freak, I already have far too many strands of 3mm freshwater pearls for the tassel.

There are 200 pearls in the necklaces (50 for the short one, 150 for the larger with further seed pearls between.) The number happens to correspond to the 200 Maria Salviati bought for her daughter-in-law . before the wedding. Those would have been some rather expensive saltwater pearls. As I don't have a Medici trying to bribe me to move to Tuscany, I'm settling for freshwater. It means mine won't be as large and beautifully matched. I do, however, have a box with like 100 strands of 9mm potato pearls, so the length isn't an issue. That will also be plenty left to pearl the partlet and hair net.

Tomorrow I'll be back to flock and glue. First up is the trial with egg as adhesive.


  1. Laura Marsolec! What an amazing find. I am in your debt!

    1. My jaw hit the floor when I found her paper and then her site. Having things analyzed by someone with a jewelers background makes me ridiculously happy.