Friday, February 21, 2014

The Watcher, In Progress.

One of my New Year's resolutions has been to dig deep into my trove of treasures, and to pull out those things I've coveted but held back for something 'special.' Turning 50 in January has brought home what I knew intuitively all along:

It's all special.

So out comes one such piece ready for transforming:

An 1890's swivel locket by Pinchbeck. I'm determined to use the original ambrotype portrait within as part of the final piece.

Ambrotypes are emulsion on glass, and must be backed with black for the image to be seen as a positive.


Checking out the swivel action.

The missing side, lost to time.


Out comes the ambrotype... This one is indeed unique as it was hand-colored beautifully and subtly.


The black paint is scratched off the back of the glass, thereby making all parts of the image that would be black become transparent.

Leaving a bit of black behind the face to keep it readable from the front.


My title for the piece is now chosen and I fit it to the oval.


As these brooches were used as mourning pieces, usually enclosing hair of a loved one, I decide to plait a waxed-linen border around the image.



Turning my attention to the empty side, I settle on a spectacular gilt book cover from the early 1800's as my palette.


Cut and edge-painted, I then burrow two recesses to hold jewels.


Gorgeous opals peer out.


A resin lens is prepared and attached.


A brilliantly colored lithograph lends me the face to be seen under the lens.


Almost ready to attach.


First the back must be prepared, as I'll be able to see through the ambrotype to this side of the book cover. I choose some exquisite robe detailing from an 1830 engraving. This texture will reveal itself as the jacket detail of the photo portrait once it's in place.


To secure the glass ambrotype in place, I use more of the thick engraving paper as a 'washer' - this was a practice actually used during the period.


I'll have a shallow space for material to move behind the photo image. I choose to fill this space with tiny tourmalines and mustard seeds.


The edges of the book cover, which are beautifully dense cardboard, are hammered hard to round off the edges, giving the panel a finished quality I'm delighted with.


The panels all in place, the last step is to embellish the exterior frame of the brooch. I choose more of the crimson waxed linen thread, and it imbues the piece with a crude hand-hewn aura.

Now, if you'll saunter over and view the finished piece here.

Or, if you're feeling your oats, you can see how much it costs to wear it yourself here.

Thank you so much for looking and for your feedback below!