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Click to enlarge. Queen Elisabeth of Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola. She is holding a Zibellino fur in her right arm.
Zibellino (zibellini is the plural form) is an entire pelt of animal popular in the 15-16 Century. The pelt was originally left plain, but later on they became extremely richly decorated with precious metal and gemstones. The head if the pelt is often replaced with a gold or crystal head.
Some say the purpose of zibellini are worn so fleas would bite into the fur instead of the human, but others point out that fleas are only attracted to blood, therefore a dead animal with no blood would not be attracting much fleas. Not to mention, advertising one's personal hygiene issue back then was as unpopular as it is now, carrying a body-bug repellent would be akin to proudly toting a prescription grade deodorant. The more logical explanation is that they are simply decorations with little purpose other than showing off the wealth of wearers.

I bought some vintage whole pelt mink stoles from ebay. They cost about $15 with shipping included and they usually have multiple pelts attached. Vintage furs in pelt form are generally in better conditions than ones already made into coats. The $15 for 2-6 price tag is much more affordable than the $125 (per piece!) price tag for new garment-grade mink pelts. 
I am no goldsmith, so I made the head with polymer clay instead. This is the head pre-baking.
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Post-baking, painted with gold nail polish (gold paint is so much more expensive!)
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The best pelt of the 5, with head amputated ready for head transplant.
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I used the glass eyes from the pelts for the eye and a black bead + headpin for the nose.
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Head transplant was successful. The vital signs are good.
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For decoration, I used some pre-mounted plastic gems and a length of silk ribbon. I decided to do a Gwen Stefanie for the head.
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Made two more piece of "gold" for the rest of the body. I sewed the ribbon to place instead of gluing them directly onto the fur in case I change my mind and decide to do something else with the fur.
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I decided to survey my overflowing box of supplies and use up some stuff I've had for a long time. I got at least a dozen peacock feathers and a piece of netting with velvet dots that I've saved for some potential epically special project that never really come into fruition. Well damn it, I figured, I will use it this week because that epically special project can only exist if I actually make it. I first made the netting into a bow (it's too small to be made into a veil) and attach that onto a tiny hat base. Then I trimmed 4 peacock feather eyes and covered the end of the feather with a fake ancient Greek gold coin and a gold bow. (The flip side of the coin has the Greek letters  Ἀ θ Ε with an owl, which means the face is actually Athena, whose symbol is an owl. Although I feel that the peacock feathers made it looks more ancient Roman/Egyptian since the ancient Greeks had much fewer luxury items such as exotic animals. This page shows the actual coin, which was made in silver instead of gold.)



Oh I learned this week that 1. both male and female birds are called peafowls, 2. only the male birds called  peacocks while a female peafowl is called a peahen, 3. an infant peafowl is called a peachick.
 

Samba

12/12/2010

2 Comments

 
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I think the Maddest Mad Hatter Award should definitely go to Carmen Miranda. No one else could even come up with using your head as a fruit platter.
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On a completely different note, winter weather has been hitting our area like a chainsaw. I have to put my hood up whenever I go outside, so that means no more crazy hat wearing. Since I haven't made a hat for a long time and as a tribute of Carmen Miranda (and warm weather), I made a little hat with...fruits. The fruits are Iwako erasers. I was going to buy some gold colored pleather but I found gold lamé for $2 for a huge roll and got that instead. They are really flimsy, so I used two layers. Gathering the edge is also a challenge because the material is really hard to sew.  I pulled it off at the end though. The fruits are actually quite heavy so I used an elastic band instead of a comb or clips.

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Besides making things, my other hobby is reading about history of fashion and literature. My current obsession is Gothic literature, and after clicking through related articles on Wikipedia, I remembered The Simpsons did their own version of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven (see below)
This is great for my crafter's block because I bought a copper photo locket that I need to figure out what to make it into. (This is actually a cool concept since you can put anything in there and it will instantly become a necklace that you can wear). After watching the video again I finally decided to draw a picture of a raven's silhouette against a watercolor blue background.

 I really like the chain that comes with the locket. I've noticed most Victorian necklaces has very unusual chains made from elongated bar links instead of simple circle links.
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This is the best version I can find on Youtube (I can't embed anything else on Weebly). A better quality video can be found here.