At the Cannes' Film Festival tonight, viewers were treated to a refurbished viewing of the classic movie, "Cleopatra." It has been nearly 50 years since this blockbuster hit the movie houses with all of the drama, scandal and love story surrounding stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Over time, the original tape suffered color fading and scratches. The restoration division of Twentieth Century Fox
is said to have spent two and a half years restoring the film's original luster and beauty.
Though I doubt the release of Cleopatra on Blue Ray (May 28) will set off any fashion trends, I would still to acknowledge such a memorable movie. Ancient Egypt is a very difficult period to interpret into contemporary clothing. (Though this never stopped students of mine from trying.) This is why, today's posting is not about clothes, but rather, accessories that tell the story.
The secret to making something of Cleopatra's Egypt is to understand the essence of the period then break it down into the simplest lines. For me that suggests gold jewelry worn as statement pieces: collars, cuffs, necklaces.
Once again, I had fun with oven bake, polymer clay. I found gold powder which brushes on before the item is baked and hardened. I wanted the same type of rich gold you find on vintage frames or parlor chairs. For that reason, I started with a red clay as a base.
I roll out a small ball of clay then press it into a rectangle. I was afraid of staining my lighter skinned dolls, so I fashioned the jewelry on one of the darker dolls. Later for the cuff bracelet, I used a pencil, roughly the size of the doll's arm as I continued to work. For the bracelets and the neck sculpt, shape it as close to the doll as possible, allowing just enough space to get it on and off the doll.
Use a sharp object to etch patterns into the clay. For beads or collars, don't forget to pierce holes where you intend to introduce thread or wire.
Use a small brush and carefully pat the metallic powder into the clay object. Make sure you work in a well ventilated space to avoid inhaling the dust. Place in an oven at a very low temperature. The package says to bake for 30 minutes, but 10-15 minutes is usually enough due to the tiny size of the objects. Pay attention to remove it immediately should things start smoking. Allow to cool. Varnish to fix the gold.
For the white collar, I used air dried clay for a totally contemporary look. Note: the metallic powders will not work with this type of clay, although you can paint it after it hardens.
On my next posting, I will discuss the techniques used to create the white and the black gowns within the context of the Haute Couture exhibition currently on at the Hotel de Ville in Paris.
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