A Zibellino - Gerhild Duenker

A few weeks ago my friend Elisabeth brought me the fur of a marten. She asked me to create a zibellino for her which she would like to wear with her Italian renaissance gown. I decided to take that fur for the challenge and we named it "Zibby".

At first I cut off its head and the little toes. You can imagine that I could really hear poor Zibby cry out "ouch!" with every cut. Then I took it to a furrier to seam up the paws and to recreate the belly with a piece of dark brown silk cloth.

The next step was to form the toes out of modelling clay and to bake them in the oven. I chose four filigree ornaments of brass and decorated each one with a rhinestone button. Then I fixed them one at every clay paw and sewed it to the fur paws. 

The most difficult part was the head. At first I made a brown one that looked like wood grain. But it got a bit smallish. So I created another one with a golden lacquer, but that didn't really look good. 

The best things come in threes: the third head I created was good enough for Elisabeth's zibellino. I sculptured it of modelling clay in white colour, mixed with a bit of transparent and a tiny little bit of yellow colour. When it was baked, I lacquered it with white enamel varnish and just a short time before the varnish was completely dried, I wiped it off to leave only traces in the pits and wrinkles. Now it looks like real ivory. 

The Zibby's decoration I designed like a horse's head gear. I took gold plated chains and ornaments and at its forehead I placed the emblem of Caterina de“Medici, who was queen of France in the 16th century. The last step I had to do was to fix the head to the fur body, and voilą! If I may introduce: Zibby the First.



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