Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pretty in Pink . . . Creating a Jewelry Ensemble Fit for Sleeping Beauty for a Little Girl's "Once Upon a Dream" Trip to Disney World

A friend of mine commissioned me to make a custom necklace and tiara for her little daughter who loves Sleeping Beauty for her birthday and an upcoming tirp to Disney World.  She will wear the jewelry and the Sleeping Beauty dress fit for a princess that she will receive as birthday gifts before the trip.  This design required a bit of planning since it was custom work but the recipient could not be consulted directly.  My friend ascertained that her little daughter was adamant that everything had to be pink including Sleeping Beauty's crown!  Since this little "Sleeping Beauty" is quite young, we decided that the "jewels" in the crown and necklace could not be glass--they would have to be pearls or stones or plastic/resin. 

I began my research.  Sleeping Beauty's jewelry in the Disney cartoon illustrations is all gold.  Since everything needed to be pink, I decided to make a custom batch of Premo to construct the focal pendant and the crown using fuchsia, neon pink, gold, translucent, and pearl colors.  I like to add translucent to all of my Premo mixes because it seems to make the Premo less crumbly, more flexible and even glass-like in some instances.  I added in the pearl clay to lighten the color and to add mica particles so that I would be able to use a mica shift technique on the surface of the crown and pendant and achieve a patterned, metallic effect in pink! 

Sleeping Beauty's necklace seems to be a pendant shaped somewhat like a diamond with either a solid metal curved band or possibly a rope or ribbon suspending it around her neck.  The pendant was made with the patterned clay and I decided to make a focal sculpted rose bead for the pendant to carry out the Briar Rose theme and then embellish it with purple fresh water pearls.  I used one of the purple resin roses that I purchased for the necklace beads and made a mold from a ball of translucent clay so that I could reproduce a similar sculpted rose for the pendant.  I mixed one part fuchsia and three parts translucent to get a more glass-like effect for the rose.  I used more of the patterned clay to make a self-bail for the pendant and then made a tiny coiled rope of pink and gold striped clay to border the pendant design.  The rose was embellished with Pearl Ex in Pink/Blue and the entire front of the pendant was brushed with crystal glittered embossing powder.
This part of the pendant was baked and then a second piece of patterned pink Premo stamped with my makers' signature was carefully adhered to the back of the pendant and smoothed seamlessly into place and then re-baked. 
The balance of the necklace was designed using a slightly different mixture of Premo originally layered with translucent and fuchsia layers along with some of the custom pink and adding silver leaf.  Four of these beads were made by rolling out a sheet on the thickest setting of the pasta machine and then constructing a tube, matching the thickness of the bail on the pendant and the size of the inner opening to make sure they could be strung on a similar thickness of material.  A metal mandrel was then inserted into the tube so that it could be sliced into four beads without collapsing the opening.  The resulting beads were smoothed, rounded somewhat, checked for problems and baked.  Purchased resin beads resembling sculpted roses and metallic pink lentils were added to the design.  I decided to string the beads onto a 12 gauge piece of "Lady Pink" aluminum wire and add a simple hook fastener that would be easy for a little girl to manipulate.
On to the princess crown!  I had to experiment a little with the crown idea.  I wanted to use the mica shift effect on the crown as well but I had to account for the structural qualities of the Premo with all of that mica added.  Metallic Premo is not as pliable as the translucent or regular colors and I couldn't have any crumbling going on.  I decided on two layers of the custom pink color, patterned with different designs and carefully shaved down to a smooth surface with a ghost image and then laid together back to back, being careful of any air bubbles.  The crown template was laid over these and the crown was carefully  cut out.  Silver grommets were added on each side so that later straps, ribbons, or elastic could be added to keep the crown in place, much like a mask or headband.  I added a matching sculpted rose to the bottom center of the crown and then created another rose/gold twisted rope and made a spiral design for the top of the crown and embellished it with purple fresh water pearls.  The crown was then coated with liquid polymer clay and the crystal embossing powder for a little added smoothness and sparkle.  I wanted a curved crown so I wrapped the crown around an empty can and that is how it was baked.  Once the crown was cool enough to handle I modified the curve by placing it against my forehead so that the final design was a slight  curve. 
I started thinking about possible safety and sturdiness issues for a young child and decided that even though the crown surface was leather-like at this point, it probably would not take a lot of abuse and should probably be stabilized with a wire frame.  I used more of the "Lady Pink" 12 gauge wire and decided to add 18 gauge coiled wire of the same color with strategically placed prongs to hold the crown in the frame. 
After trying on the crown in the mirror, it seemed that it would look better and more authentic if the crown were to sit on top of the head instead of against the forehead.  This would require combs.  I decided on plastic combs because they are lighter and less likely to break a child's fine hair.  Two plastic combs were found in the bridal section of the arts and  crafts store and they were easily wired in place onto the bottom base of the crown.
This was a fascinating creative exercise and it challenged me to find artistic solutions to structural issues.  It demanded a study of the future user of the design and that person's needs and desires.  I learned a lot about the structure of a tiara, wire wrapping, and mica shift along the way.  Now I just  can't wait to see how it is received by the little princess!

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