Miscellaneous SIG Notes on Gems, Pearls, and other Precious Garb Adornments

Buttons: From Mordak on period Muscovite buttons: Bobs, either fabric, wood, stone, metal or bone. You can make them by using earring posts and a needle nosed pliers. That's how I make mine.

From "Kurt and Theresa Ryder"

  • Item 75. Braided gold and silver threads. Tassels at the ends. Buttons are round and covered with cloth. 17th century. Moscow. Armory, Kremlin museum.
  • Item 77 Button Silver gilt. Large, almoned-shaped, and composed of two spheres with a chased scale design. The loop is surrounded by a chased design in the form of a twelve-petal rosette. 17th century Russian work. Size: 5.5 x 3.3 x 2.7 cm. Historical Museum
  • Item 78 Button Silver gilt. Egg shaped. Solidly covered with etched design. First half of the 17th century, Moscow. 7.3 x 5.5 cm. Historical Museum
  • Item 79 Button Silver gilt. Spherical. Completely decorated with granulations set with rings. 17th century, Russian work. Length 4.7 cm. Historical Museum.
  • Item 80 Button Solid silver, with multicolored enameld plated silver stars. 17th centruy Russia Size: 3.5 x 2.4 x 2.4 cm.
  • Item 81 Button Solid silver. Oopenwork, decordated with an intricate design of filigree and granulation. 17th century, Russia. Size: 4.9 x 3.3 x 3.3 cm.
  • Item 82. Button Silver gilt. Spherical. Openwork, filigree ornament solidly covered with granulation. Granulated silver beads form a pyramid. 17th century, Russia. Size 3.1 x 1.9 x 1.8 cm.
  • Item 83. Button Silver gild. Pear-shaped. Solidly covered with filigree ornametn and painted enamel with palted silver stars and beads. A crowned red stone at the end. Mid-17th century Moscow. Size 3 x 2.2 cm.
    These are "shank" style buttons. All from History of Russian costume from the eleventh to the twentieth century : from the collections of the Arsenal Museum, Leningrad, Hermitage, Leningrad, Historical Museum, Moscow, Kremlin Museums, Moscow, Pavlovsk Museum : [catalogue / compiled by Alyoshina ... et al.].Published: New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art, ISBN: 0870991604
  • Gems: From Kate Jones: The ones I've found indications of so far include ruby, emerald, sapphire, turquoise, and tourmaline. Note that this is only what I personally have seen pictures of so far, so who knows what else was used.
    Let's see, I just dug out the Zagorsk museum book 'Dak just mentioned - I see rounded shapes, squarish, sort of irregular, and there's a five-sided one. There seem to be thin bands of metal around each one but I couldn't tell you how they're actually being held on.

    Carowyn sez: Yes, they did use gems other than pearls. Agate, some amethyst, rough diamonds, sapphires, rubies, evidence of *some* jade from the Orient trade, jet, emerald / beryl / chrysoberyl, garnet. Mostly cabbed, attached to clothing by metal pronged findings like you can find in stores today. Also beads, mostly roundish to flat oblongs. This is, of course, very sketchy info.

    Pearls Liudmilia: "I find that the period way of pearl embroidery is also the most reliable way. This means that first you couch down a foundation of white cord (single or double line), then couch down your pearls over this foundation, making stitches after every single pearl. Then, you outline your design in gold cord, which hides the white. This is a rather time-consuming technique (you go over every line four or five times), but the results are worth the effort. For more information, you can look up Mistress Soraya's article in Slovo." -Liudmila

    Soraya Evodia: "As my excellent apprentice Liudmila has pointed out, you do stitch the string of pearls down between *each* pearl.

    As Liudmila discovered in her research, but has not pointed out in her message, if all your stitches holding down the pearl embroidery and then the gold outline embroidery, *go through the white cord 'railroad track/s* that the pearls are resting on, and *NOT* through the underlying velvet/fabric, then if it comes time to remove the embroidery from an old or ruined garment, the whole embroidery will come away in one piece and can then be attached to a new garment. (The only stitches that would have to be cut would be the stitches that hold the underlying white cording to the fabric, as seen from the back of the fabric." -Soraya Evodia

    Soraya Evodia responds to the following: "[Could I suggest stringing pearls on thin wire before sewing?]

    This was done in Russian embroidery, but I believe it was only when the line of pearls went around a rounded plaque or large gem included in the embroidery pattern. Wire is much better than thread for helping a very curved line hold its shape.
    The risk of stringing straight or slightly curved lines of pearls on wires is at that sooner or later the wire will be bent, and your line of pearls will have an unwanted sharp corner in it, or the wire will be broken, and the pearls (and they were using valuable real, natural pearls) may fall off." -Soraya Evodia

    From: LiudmilaV@aol.com:> Got a question about pearls, somebody on another list was wondering if freshwater pearls of the 'rice krispie' variety were used to decorate garb, and I thought that Russian garb was probably fine for decorating with 'rice krispie' pearls. Does this sound right? She is really hoping to find some sort of garb that she can decorate with this type of pearls.

    Answer: I've used those when making a commissioned embroidered ensemble, but only because they were provided. Most Russian period embroideries used potato-shaped pearls drilled horizontally -- sort of like squished doughnuts. I didn't see any rice-shaped ones, so I think that if any such were used, they were also drilled horizontally. Mistress Soraya looked into this before me, and I think her article on pearling was in Slovo.
    In any case, it is up to your friend to decide whether to put those pearls on Russian garb -- they would still look better than fake pearls, in my opinion." - Liudmila

    From: Kate Jones:> Got a question about pearls, somebody on another list was wondering if freshwater pearls of the 'rice krispie' variety were used to decorate garb, and I thought that Russian garb was probably fine for decorating with 'rice krispie' pearls. Does this sound right? She is really hoping to find some sort of garb that she can decorate with this type of pearls.

    Answer: 'Rice krispie'! That's a great way to describe those. I've seen plenty of pictures of ecclesiastical textiles with 'rice krispie' pears on 'em - I've got some up on my embroidery website. Take a look. http://tulgey.browser.net/~kate/sca/rus
    (Also, to the person who asked about the late-period sleeves - I'd love to see those pictures, too, since I've found no references to the types of counted embroidery they do today being done in period - I'd love to add those to my page!)" - Kat'ryna

    From: LiudmilaV@aol.com: > To clarify for us non-textile-experts: rice-krispie shaped pearls were used but drilled the wide, not the long way? So, the pearls themselves are appropriate, they would just be fastened on differently because they are drilled in a different direction? Or am I not understanding?

    Answer: You are understanding, Jadwiga! Well, I do think that the pearls in the pictures that Kat'ryna and I were looking at are not as pointed as cultured rice pearls are, but they'd do.
    As for the source of those pearls, just buy potato-shaped ones ("potato-shaped" is a term sellers use). I got a lot of mine really cheap at a gem show, but I saw suitable ones for a reasonable price in Fire Mountain's catalogue (http://www.firemountaingems.com/ -- but the website does not sell pearls, you have to ask for the catalogue)." - Liudmila

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