Saturday, May 31, 2014

Faking it: Earrings for the 18th century court gown project

I was able to scratch another small bit off the epic To Do list that makes up my 18th century court gown project:  the earrings. The lovely person or people over at the Grand Ladies website where I first laid eyes on this painting of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily describe "the only jewellery she is wearing are large pearl earrings with diamond surrounds."

Since this was her only jewelry, I really wanted to make sure that the earrings were just right.  It's a big dress and a big wig, so I needed something a lot larger than what I would normally wear.  Plus, they needed to be pretty decadent, since this was a queen I'm recreating here, and your standard costume jewelry might not cut it.  Cue the Google-fu and this is what I found:

Over 1/2" across and they fit the description to a T.  They were gorgeous.  They were perfect.  They were no longer on sale and cost $275!  Which is... no.  Hard limit, I cannot spend more money on the earrings than I did on the dress.  So, on to Plan B.  I'd been keeping an eye on the buttons and such whenever I happened upon a crafting store or website, with the hopes of being able to make something up on my own.  In amongst the wedding supplies at my local JoAnn's I found these lovely buttons:

I think I might actually like the look of these even MORE than the fancy expensive earrings.  The ivory tone makes them look so much older and, as they were flat backed and not raised, they would sit flush against the lobe of my ear.  And even though anything that's intended for "wedding" use is going to be stupid expensive on principle, a pair of these and a pack of earring backs came out to a grand total of $20, which is a far sight better than the alternative.

Here's how I made it work:

The supplies: buttons, earring posts with 10mm pads upon which to attach the buttons,
Jewel-It glue, large and fine wier cutters and safety glasses.

I folded up a tissue pad to set the buttons on so that I didn't scratch the faux pearly finish.  Then Iplaced the heavy duty wire cutters and covered the lot of it with a second tissue to discourage projectiles.  I needed the large cutters to work through the heavy shank on the back of the buttons, but it wasn't a clean cut.

So I used the smaller wire cutters to do a bit of fine trimming, but there was still a bit of a rough edge.

One of the must haves in my craft room is several old containers of clear nail polish.  You know how gunky that last quarter of the bottle always gets?  Well, hold onto it.  It's dead useful.  The thick stuff dries clear, makes a hard surface, is skin friendly and ultimately removeable, should it come to it.  I use it on all sorts of rough parts of costumey bits.

To attach the posts, I used Jewel-It glue.  The Jewel-It is good for this sort of project because you can embed your bits into it and it dries to form a sort of setting that's more secure than glue alone.  For this project, I used a toothpick to spread additional glue around and up over the edges of the disk on the post to secure it, then let it dry overnight.

The finished product.  Looking at the buttons in the store, I was really worried that they'd be too big.
While much larger than anything I'd ever wear normally, they weren't very heavy and, once paired
with the stupidly-sized wig and dresss, I think they should work just fine.

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