Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Necklace Fit for a Queen (or a Princess, at least...)

For as long as I can remember having planned my Tudor gown project (I think it started in 2007, perhaps?) I have wanted a necklace like the one Elizabeth I wore in the portrait she gave to Edward before she became queen. It was a double-stranded affair with alternating pearls and gold beads. However, I also loved Anne Boleyn's "B" initial necklace. I always thought it was playful... dare I say flirty? I guess there's something about seeing all of these anonymous portraits, and then you get to hers and see a woman who does not want her name lost in history, and who is proud of her family. An early modern woman who doesn't feel defined by her married name, but who proudly boasts the name she was born with. Maybe I'm projecting here, but I want to explain why this is a personal project for me, and not just a simple reproduction. I really like the idea of what the pendant represents.

Not that Princess Elizabeth's necklace doesn't resonate with me as well; I think it is one of the most compelling portraits of her in existence. She is young, not yet Queen, but looks incredibly bright. And it was a tender gift to a brother she loved and would soon lose to death.

Princess Elizabeth, thank you Elizabethan Portraits!

And here's one of the Boleyn portraits featuring the pendant. There are several; some, including this one, may be posthumous copies.

Once again, thank you Elizabethan Portraits! 

I used glass beads and gold-plated beads to make the necklace. I made two strands and attached both strands to the same clasp, which had loops on it to accommodate up to three strands. The clasp is shaped like a little Tudor rose! I've been hanging onto it for years in anticipation of this project.

As you can see, I do need to get better at attaching my strands to the clasp. I am very bad at looping the small bits of stringing material through the loops on the clasp, and so I ended up with more un-beaded stringing material than I wanted, and then I had a couple of dodgy goes with the crimps, so I added a second one just in case....

 I threaded the glass pearls and gold beads on two strands that I measured to the length I wanted them. I believe the glass pearls are 8 mm and the gold beads are 6 mm. Both are from Fire Mountain Gems.  I think I may have made the choker length a little longer than ideal, but oh well. I think it is probably close enough that I'll be happy with it.

The two-strand necklace before the pendant was attached.
For my initial pendant, I used polymer clay that I shaped with my hands (ugh, hello fingerprints and fingernail indentations!). If I were to do this again (in fact, I might), I would definitely research some tools to help with this part of the procedure. For now, I think it was a good start, and since I'm in a bit of a hurry with this project, my prototype will do for now. I cut some headpins and pressed them into the clay before I baked it; the ones on top were attached to jump rings and attached to the shorter strand of my necklace, and the ones on the bottom will eventually be used to attach some dangly beads, but it turns out teardrop shaped red faceted glass or glass pearls are hard to find locally... I'll have to place an order online.

I made two clay pendants; the first one was much larger than I wanted. The second isn't too much smaller, but it's enough of a change that it looks a lot better. I don't think with my current molding skills, I'd be able to get one much smaller than what I have! I'll have to practice some more.

After it was baked, I painted the front and sides of the pendant with some gold leaf paint that had scary warnings on it. After reading the warnings thoroughly, I decided it was best to leave the backside (which will lay against my skin) unpainted.

The metallic paint I used.
 Here's the pendant right after I painted it:

And here it is attached to the necklace:

I've been working on my bodice... I may finally have some pictures of garments on my body soon! I've got a lot of mostly finished pieces, but once I have the bodice constructed and the skirt attached, I'll be able to hem my petticoat and make my smock without worrying about its neckline not matching the bodice neckline. I am probably over thinking all of this, but I'm not used to making quite so many pieces that have to work in tandem with each other. I'd rather be overly cautious until I'm omre familiar with the process.


  1. interesting! i love how you drew inspiration from such regal royalties! :D

  2. I love this! The fact that you've made something unique and beautiful purely from inspiration is beautiful:) xx

  3. Thank you both for the encouraging comments! I truly appreciate the support :D