Malinda Godwin
Arkansas USA

A Zibellino 

According to Tawny Sherrill in “Fleas, Fur, and Fashion: Zibellini as Luxury Accessories of the Renaissance:

“Perhaps one of the most curious fashions of all time is the luxury fur piece of the late fifteenth and sixteenth century. In its simplest form, this was the pelt of a marten or sable worn draped over the wearer’s shoulders or arm, or carried in the hand. At its most extravagant, the animal’s skin featured a jeweled head, and often paws, of gold or crystal, and the whole was generally attached by a ring on the muzzle to a chain and worn on a girdle.”

There are at least three actual heads still in existence that I am aware of these include, a fairly simple one, one that is crystal and wearing a jeweled harness, and one that is very elaborate include many jewels and what appears to be enamelling. I made attempts trying to figure out to make one similar to the very elaborate one, so far I have not been particularly successful.

The one that appears fairly simple is basically plain gold with darkly jeweled eyes and white teeth. This one appeared simple yet interesting and so I tried to make something similar using Sculpey instead of actual gold or metal, golden spray paint for gilding, white acrylic paint in place of what I think is enamelling on the teeth, and black painted pearls for the jeweled eyes.

The final outcome looked decent, if a bit creepy but did not fit well with the mink pelts I planned to convert instead of the using marten or sable as was originally done.


The other extant head appears to be carved crystal and wears a harness and collar of gold and probably rubies. There is also an extant etching of a design for one with a harness style that is similar.


I made a harness and collar out of jewelry bits to match the style and fit the head I once again made using Sculpey instead of actual gold, metal, or crystal. I also crafted matching paws and put them on my fur. The shaping of the Sculpey for all pieces was done with a series of personal handmade molds, hand shaping, and then some detail carving after the pieces were hardened. I also once again used my golden spray paint for the gold or gilded look since in most of the portraits I have seen the heads and paws of zibellini appear golden.




© 2001 - 2014 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.