Friday, August 21, 2009

Project: Tudor Initial Pendant

Lately, the Tudors have been all over the small and silver screen; whether it's The Tudors (2007), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) or Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen (1998) or Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), we can't seem to get enough of them. So naturally, I wanted a piece of the costuming action, and what better way to wear costumes everyday than in jewelry! Since initial pendants are so In, and since I found a tutorial that showed how to make polymer clay look like old cast bronze, I went ahead and made my own Tudor Initial Pendant.

Anne Boleyn by unknown artist, c. 1525

The tutorial I had found on DIY Network no longer seems to exist on the web, but it was by Jennifer Parrish of Parrish Relics, famous for creating Ugly Betty's version of the Anne Boleyn necklace.

America Ferrera as Betty Suarez, Ugly Betty (2006)

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, The Tudors (2007)

Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

To make my necklace, I used black Fimo that I formed into the shape of a “G”, using both my hands and clay working tools. Once I was satisfied with the shape, I used different imprinting “tools” (a few of my “Celtic” rings, an interesting brooch, a metal appliqué) to give the surface a nicely chiseled texture. Once I was satisfied with the look, I cut and inserted four wire hooks into the clay so that once finished, I could hang my pendant from the pearl necklace as well as hang drop pearls from it. It then went into the oven to be cooked.

After the clay had cooked and cooled, I proceeded to sanding the dried clay lightly where it needed it before giving it a first coat of gold paint. I used four coats of gold acrylic craft paint instead of spray paint to get a richer effect. Then, I used diluted black acrylic craft paint to fake the oxidation effect. I put a coat of black paint on, let it dry a little and the wiped it off to leave black paint only in the crevasses made during the imprinting step. I had to repeat the process a few time to achieve a satisfactory effect. Finally, I varnished the piece with a satin finish varnish to give it a realistic shine.

As the piece had shrunk a little during the cooking process, the wire hooks were now loose in their holes, so I took them out with pliers, I put a drop of crazy glue in each hole and I reinserted the wire hooks.

Once all was dry, I hanged the pearl drops, threaded the pearls and pendant into necklace using four strands of nylon thread and I added the closure. I put a drop of crazy glue at the closure to make sure the knots would hold. I tried to keep the length of my necklace short enough so that it would hang close to my neck, just like in Anne Boleyn’s portrait.

Gwenyver's Tudor Initial Pendant

I also made one for Sciath, my Domina (the head of my SCA Household, Household of the Busy Bees)

In the 16th century, such a necklace would have been made out of gold and fresh water pearls. I used Fimo, gold paint and faux pearls to achieve the right look. This way, I managed to recreate a period look with modern materials and I now wear this necklace often, to work and school, with a V-Neck Tee or my teal velvet doublet jacket. That's my way of wearing costumes everyday!

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