Oh Joy!

Look what I found online? Hundreds of fashion photos taken at the Longchamps Racecourse, officially known as L’Hippodrome de Longchamps, in Paris from the year 1900 through to 1919. Look at the lovely people and their fancy fashions! What I would give to see these photos in colour. You can still get a great sense of texture and materials from these photos. I could wear just about every outfit in this collection.

These images are in the public domain and need to be credited to the source: National Library of France.


Update to the Curiosity Cabinet

I’ve slowly been adding items to my curiosity cabinet, as written about late last year – Curiosity Cabinet.

It’s nearly full which means I might have to get another one ;-)

Here are some of the latest additions.

Bronze Sparrow

A bronze bird from France. I read somewhere that actual birds were moulded then cast. I am not sure on this one but the piece is thick bronze with plaster inside. It is also signed underneath. Here it is from another viewpoint.

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Also for the cabinet are these two delightful small prints. One is hand coloured and both are small enough to fit in your hand. They are probably from a small book.

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And a beautiful 18th century miniature painting set into an ivory frame. When looking at it with a magnifier, it is possible to see the brush strokes which quite possibly would have been made with a horse hair or similar.

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Although not new to the cabinet, I wanted to share some of my daguerrotype collection. These old, mid-19th century photographs were common before printed photos were popular. The image is printed onto glass, and sometimes the faces had tinted cheeks and jewellery was highlighted in gold leaf. Sometimes the image comes off the glass, such as in the first photo below, and you are left with a distortion, but the sentiment of the original picture is undiminished. Although the frames are similar in design I do not believe these people are related to each other. The frames are in pressed brass sheet – a thin metal sheet moulded into these delightful frames.

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Waverley Antiques Bazaar

It had been a while since we last visited Waverley Antiques Bazaar. Located in the middle of a major residential area, in a drafty old warehouse next to freight depots is this huge venue for multiple sellers to offer their vintage wares. You need to dig deep to find a bargain or something you could actually use, but if nothing else it’s a few good hours of wandering around reminiscing.

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Crazy About Coral

If I was to choose a favourite material for my jewellery designs, and the jewellery I wear, it would have to be coral.

Despite the age of the pieces I own and use, the brilliant reds and oranges of the antique coral is still as bright as the day it was first set into a jewellery design.

Coral was very popular in the early part of the 19th century, and much of what I own comes from this era, and in particular from France. The ‘Empire’ style of jewellery was refined, classical and not overly ornate. Personal adornment took on a simpler, more refined style after the excesses of the lavish 18th century fashions.

Coral buckles

Above you can see three coral buckles or cuff links. They are in various states of completion, with the one on the left having only the coral frame. The centre one is missing its coral centrepiece and the one on the right is complete. It’s rare to find these with all of the coral framing beads intact. There are lots of possibilities with these pieces.

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Another example of a coral buckle is shown above. This time the buckle has its mate, as they always came in a pair but it is so hard to find a complete pair these days. This set had a sweet little snake ‘S’ clasp joining the two together and they would have most likely been sewn onto a velvet or cloth belt that was worn just under the breast. This set also features mother of pearl discs that have been carved out on the underside to produce the starburst pattern you see here. This buckle set has been repurposed into earrings. I love the deep red of the coral beads.

Coral and diamond earrings

Dating to a good 50 years earlier than the buckle earrings, above is a pair of mid-18th century coral, silver and diamond earrings. The coral beads are quite big and of a deep rich salmon colour. The setting is silver, with rose cut diamonds. I think they could do with a clean!

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Complete coral necklaces are hard to find, and when you do find one that has large beads, it will be very expensive. Upwards of $1000 for large beads on a long necklace. Coral is often sold by weight. Below is a much less expensive example of an early 19th century coral necklace, this time with numerous strands of coral seed beads. These are tiny little beads made from real coral, and hand cut and drilled. Despite the hours and hours that would have been employed to make this necklace, the coral weight is not substantial and thus the necklace is not overly pricey.

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I do also occasionally see coral buckles with little faces cared into the coral. Coral cameos were popular in the late Georgian and Victoria eras, and cameos came in all styles. In the example below the cameo is a in gold plate brass, and is little Aztec style face. The piece came to me as one half of a buckle set – the other half was missing. To create the necklace you see here, I used a French ormolu coral tiara which was missing about half of its coral beads. I harvested the beads, then used the remaining tiara frame to form a collar style necklace. The Aztec cameo piece was affixed onto the collar, I added chain and voila! A very unique necklace made from extremely rare 200-year old elements.

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More readily available are coral charms. These are also often sold by weight and therefore the price can vary according to the size of the piece. I like to use coral charms on a charm necklace with other antique elements such as little lockets and mini wax seals. Below is one such example which features a coral branch lucky charm, a carved coral hand charm, a small French wax seal and an 18th century vinaigrette locket. Coral and gold go so well together, and it’s a vary classic colour combination.

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Another necklace I created features an unusual coral tassel. You do see a lot of antique beaded tassels with closed looping ends, not the open frayed ends common on most tassels. This lovely little necklace also features an antique wax seal and a tiny mourning locket with woven hair set behind glass  on the other side.

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I tend to use coral quite sparingly in my designs – mainly because it can be expensive and is quite scarce. Antique coral is only going to get more valuable, so if you want to start collecting something that is not quite as pricey as gold, consider coral…antique of course!


Special Lunch at the Lake Palace Hotel

The beautiful Taj Lake Palace Hotel, in Udaipur (India), achieved a worldwide reputation for major ‘wow factor’ in the James Bond film Octopussy. Irrespective of its role in the film as Octopussy’s lair, the property is deserving of attention in its own right.

It was built by a prince in the 18th century as a place to bring ‘the ladies’ and have parties. It is still a place of pleasure, exclusivity and seclusion.

Tourists can see this hotel from the shoreline or water but only guests can land on the property and enjoy its mystique up close.

I was fortunate to have a lunch there as a guest of Taj hotels so I got to see all of the wonderful rooms ands suites, restaurants, spa and other facilities, then enjoy a gorgeous meal while looking out over the water. Here are some shots from the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur is one of the largest forts in India. Like so many of India’s monuments it is remarkably well preserved, thanks in part to the fact that it has been used and occupied since its foundations were laid in 1459. The fort houses an ornate palace that was used up until the early 20th century. Most of the current structure was built in the 17th century and the fort is home to a fine museum with collections of elephant howdas (like an saddle for an elephant), miniature paintings and turbans. Here are some of my photos from this place. It needs at least half a day to take it all in at a leisurely pace. I did not have that long so will definitely go back and see it all one day.

 

 

 


India

Last week I went to India for 8 days. Yes, it was a short trip but it was a taste of things to experience when I get to go back there, hopefully soon. Here are some photos from Agra…and I will add more from other cities in the coming days.


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