As homework for her Tudor topic at school my daughter had the option of making a piece of Tudor jewellery which was exactly her sort of thing.
She started by doing some research. We couldn’t find anything in the local libraries so we splashed out and took a chance on Diana Scarisbrick’s Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery which turned out to be worth the risk. It is fascinating in its wealth of detail and has some beautiful illustrations. Obviously the internet and Pinterest had lots of further examples for inspiration.
In the end she decided to make a miniature prayer-book inspired by Anne Boleyn’s miniature Gold Book of Psalms which she is said to have handed to one of her maids of honour just before her death in 1536 and a ring inspired by Elizabeth I’s ring containing a hidden portrait of her mother Anne Boleyn.
The Book – firstly she needed to make the basic book. She followed the basic instructions given in this very simple and easy-to-follow tutorial from ZingZing Tree, adapting it as necessary. We used a cereal box for the book cover but covered this with vellum-style printer paper and then painted it with gold acrylic paint. The vellum paper could then also be used to create manuscript-style pages for the prayer-book. My daughter wrote out an Elizabethan version of the Lord’s Prayer and also a couple of other prayers from the Book of Common Worship from the time. Before she stuck un the pages she attached a loop of fabric from an old miniature perfume bottle to the inside spine of the book, and to this attached a gold-coloured split-ring so that it could be attached to the girdle later. She also inserted two pieces of ribbon so that these could be tied together to keep the book closed. The outside of the book was decorated with beads to represent pearls and rubies although I later remembered, too late, that we had several tiny bottles of miniature ‘jewels’ from The Works which, being flat-based, would have looked the part and stayed put when glued on. As it was we had to use a strong Bostik glue and a lot of perseverance to ensure the chosen gems didn’t roll off and ‘go wonky’! She decided to draw a miniature portrait for the back of the book and surrounded this with ‘seed pearls’. The book was then attached to a length of chain with the split-ring and then a toggle-clasp attached with further split-rings to the chain so that it can be fastened into a girdle and worn around the waist.
The Ring – if we had been able to find a plain jewellery-making ring base we would have used that as the starting block for the ring but for some reason we couldn’t and, as time was not on our side, we bought some memory wire rings and used this as the base instead. The hidden-compartment component of the ring was fashioned from a tiny plastic paint-pot – the sort that comes in a joined-together row in children’s craft and art kits – cut off from its neighbours with a craft knife. Both the wire ring and the pot were painted with a couple of layers of gold acrylic paint. The paint doesn’t adhere very well to the plastic pot but the result isn’t disastrous so long as you are gentle with the finished product. You need to ensure that you do not paint the lid closed and that you can open and shut the lid without damaging the paint too much. The pot was then decorated with a design of pearls on the lid and a row of tiny pearl beads around the perimeter of the pot itself. Inside, rather than do a tiny picture, my daughter decided to place a ‘lock’ of hair, making it a keepsake-ring.
We were very pleased with the result but there are lots of other possibilities including brooches, pendants, string necklaces and so on. Another child in her class had made a gorgeous bejewelled orb, possibly inspired by one they saw in the crown jewels collection.