The Dreamstress, in particular, is an enabler. She keeps showing me pictures of things and encouraging me to make them. Her latest suggestion is a necklace shaped like ouroboros, as seen in a 1801 fashion plate from Costume Parisien.
|Close up of the snake's head. This is made from nine or ten separate flat planes sewn together to make the head shape.|
Here's the fashion plate in question. Although the necklace is the focal point, the picture is small and not very detailed. Even if you zoom in, all you can see is that the snake:
- Is green
- Appears to have a striped or spiral pattern on its body
- Has a detailed head with facial features sculpted in three dimensions
I've had to make my best guess at how the necklace might have been constructed and go from there.
|The Rijksmuseum describes this as a gold necklace, but it's coloured green in the picture. Perhaps it's supposed to be gold and emeralds, but it looks more like a beaded rope to me.|
I suspect what we see in the fashion plate is likely to be one of these:
|Beaded snake made by an Ottoman prisoner of war during WWI. It's made using a beaded crochet technique.|
The snake is a good luck symbol in Turkey and some other Near Eastern countries, where beaded snakes seem to have been a traditional craft item. During WWI, some POWs from the Ottoman Empire made beadwork items, including snakes like this one, to earn money.
In the early 19th century there was a lot of interest in Oriental art, which was novel and exotic to Western Europeans, and it wouldn’t be surprising for a fashionable Parisian lady to have a necklace made in the Ottoman Empire. But this is just a hypothesis. There are many ways to make a beaded snake, and the Costume Parisien illustration predates the WWI snake by over a hundred years. In any case, I didn’t especially want to learn bead crochet. I wanted something relaxing to do while binge watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Thus, my necklace is a tubular net made with silk thread and there's no crochet involved at all.
The challenge: Above the Belt.
Material: Tubular net made using glass seed beads.
Pattern: N/A; I made it up as I went along.
Notions: Silk thread, glass beads in sizes 12/0 and 6/0.
How historically accurate is it? I believe the original necklace was probably made using different techniques. My version resembles the necklace in the fashion plate, but it's not a replica of any specific object and it's not made using historical methods.
Hours to complete: 15 or so.
First worn: Not yet, but I plan to wear it out on the town! This necklace is a great statement piece for 21st century wear.
Total cost: $47.50.