Friday, July 24, 2009

The Golden Fleece Project

As if I dont have enough projects going on.....but seriously, how could I resist?

The Order of the Golden Fleece knight's collar project

One of my best friends here in the SCA, Sir Gaston, who is just as much of a Burgundian geek as me if not moreso, gave me this great about recreating the Order of the Golden Fleece chain? Talk about a great project!! The collar is such a beautiful work of art, and it just screams out to be copied.....but who wants to fork over $200-$300 to some renn faire guy to make one for you? Waaaaayyyy more fun to do it yourself, I always say.

Ok first thing's first....I have no idea how to do this in true jewelers fashion, and PMC is right out because I dont have a blow torch. So my remaining choice is basic polymer clay. Not a bad choice, imho, and fairly inexpensive and easy to work with, all pluses in my book. I also have lots of glass beads and shards at my disposal, left over from previous beading projects and stained glass panels to use as my jewels.

Now, this will be my first endeavor with polymer clay, but I have a secret weapon.....I got a book over at Half Price Books today called 'Creating Your Own Jewelry' by Cris DuPouy, and its practically written for just this sort of project!! She basically shows you how to copy museum pieces using polymer clay, shards of glass, and glass beads. I dont think it could get any more perfect, and best of all, the book itself was only $10!

Im thinking the fleece collar I want to copy is going to look roughly like this:

I have a feeling this is going to be a really fun project! :)


So the E.S. project continues to go well. The beadwork on the canvas part of the hat is just about done. Ha, Claire told me I was insane for even trying it!! Well, maybe so, but its going to so kick ass when I wear this thing.....I intend on making a sensation, and a butterfly hennin definitely qualifies! I have also figured out how to do the wiring, and I have to say that I totally disagree with Cynthia Virtue on how it's done.

Dont get me wrong, I think highly of Ms. Virtue's work. Hell, just look at all she's done!! But, I tend to be a 'big picture' sort of artisan.....yeah, it's all well and good that someone else has done it, but until I get my hands on the thing, find out all I can about the thing, its life, why it was created, why it looks the way it does, etc. I just cant go along with the 'I told you so' reasoning. For some reason, her pictures and such about the wiring on the truncated hennin was just rubbing me the wrong way, and I could never figure out why. Its the sort of thing to make you crazy! So one night Im messing around, drawing sketches and trying to wrap my head around the idea.....

1) The brass rubbing shows the veil coming way way forward on E.S's forehead....why does it do that???

2) If Ms. Virtue's documentation is correct, then it should account for that veil sitting so far forward, but the wires coming up from the back just doesnt fly in this particular situation. For other hats, absolutely....but *not* for this one.

The following is from Ms. Virtue's page:

So it rises up like it should, but the veil stops where the front brim of the hennin stops......and the E.S. hat does not.

Now, before you freak out on me, I *know* the E.S. rubbing is an exaggerated design. There's really no way for a hat to sit THAT far back on the head without a buttload of bobby pins, but still....Im willing to bet it wasent right on the hairline. It probably sat further back, especially if you consider that plucked hairlines was in vogue at the time. Given that fact, I would say it's fairly safe to say while it wasent at the back of her head, I think the hat would have sat further back then what we would consider 'normal' today.

Ok, back to the hat thing....

Ms. Virtue's constructed hat, while lovely, again doesnt really have that nice point in the front.....

So Im left to conclude that her method just isnt going to work for my project. Not that its wrong, because I think it is a viable method of producing a butterfly hennin.....its just not the one for my E.S. project.

At this point, Im kinda left sitting here going 'now what the hell-icopter am I going to do?' I decide to cruise the net to see if maybe I can glean more info. or find some inspiration, and lo and behold.....what do I find?

A cheesy little kid's book on amazon that actually has a method that will work!! Check this out.....

Holy wow!! So naturally I order the book immediately so I can look closer and stuff, but I broke out a wire hanger, snipped it with hubby's bolt cutter, and bent it just so to see if it worked. Voila! The V-shape of the wire when positioned on the truncated hennin provides that deep V that will sit just passed the brim of the hat and over onto your forehead. Genius! I have since bent a few more in the hopes of messing with it enough to build a double-butterfly hennin.....why have only one level of insanely HUGE awesome hat goodness, when you can have two??

(Insert mad scientist laughter here)

Another update to follow once Ive got the beadwork finished and secured to the base of the hat.....