So I’ve rescued photos, taken new photos, and updated the blog decor (don’t think that was easy, it wasn’t, whoever says it is can kiss my shiny metal ass). So now I’m finally settling in to show you something new. Finally.
I’ve always been entranced by the opulence of Victorian era jewellery. The cameos and jewels, the jet beads and graceful filigree and, above all else, the beetles. “Beetles?” you ask. Yes, beetles.
In the Victorian age, and indeed long before, beetles were utilised as a form of decoration. Beetles were used as personal adornment everywhere and when, from seventeenth century India to the Amazon to the courts of Europe. Their iridescent wing cases were sewn to textiles and worked into to jewellery. Sometimes the whole insect was used. Sometimes it was still alive. Creepy, no?(or dare I say crawly!).
Antique Scarab Beetle necklace and pin
Influenced by the popularity of Naturalism Victorian ladies of fashion were enthralled by these exotic living jewels. More colourful specimens were worn in their natural state, but many beetles were encrusted with jewellery of their own. Tiny gems, lace and mirrors were glued to their hard carapaces to create moving works of art. Anchored by tiny chains, these beetles crawled over the bodices and shawls of society ladies.
Antique jewel encrusted beetle
It was these six legged jewels that inspired my latest projects – insect themed adornments. While my creations may be more steampunk and less alive, they reflect the mystery and exoticism that foreign lands held for the Victorians. The general dullness of New Zealands’ beetles, combined with my unwillingness to farm them, led me to alter toy insects rather than real ones. The large altered beetle is one I altered for the Pockets McGee costume. It attaches to the costumes’ shirt with a dainty chain and a tiny winding key.
A trio of altered beetle brooches
Clocktimer Beetle Brooch
Large altered beetle brooch
Ladybug altered beetle brooch
I’m currently devoting my time to creating a framed art range of altered insects, as well as some decadent hairpieces worthy of a Waterhouse painting. As ever, feel free to share your thoughts on these, feedback is always welcome!