Carol-Marie Meyer


I am dedicating my participation in this challenge in honor of breast cancer awareness to my Dad, Dr. Clinton B. Sayler and his partner Dr. James Egan, who developed the blue-paper mammogram technique in the1970’s for early detection of breast cancer, opened the first breast cancer clinic in the Pacific NW (USA), and have saved countless lives through their innovations. Although we do not use the blue-paper mammogram anymore, next time you face the “squinch machine” at your mammogram you have my Dad and Dr. Egan to thank. Both men are gone now, except in the legacies they have left.

Every time I become frustrated and think I want quit, I remember that I am dedicating this to Dad and keep going.


I entered this challenge to improve what I create and learn from the best. I am honored to be included with this incredible group of people. I am here neither to compete nor do I think I have a snowballs chance to "win" - But since I am already learning so much, in my eyes I win just by entering. Thank you all. I look forward to seeing what and how we all create.

I think my creativity and attitude will be both a plus and my downfall for this challenge. A plus because I still think I can do anything I imagine, and a minus because this challenge requires me to learn a discipline and focus on technique as well as results. Yes, by starting this project, I am already learning. Halfway through, I have learned that I get carried away by the creative process -- which means I stray from what I have chosen for inspiration under the guise of adjusting my ambitions to my skill level. I need to research my flights of fancy and imagination, perhaps, with more care than I do. I need to refine my research more carefully by country and date. I need to fit my project more carefully to my research rather than scrambling and searching for the research to suit my project. The second thing I have learned is that my training as a costumer means I focus on creating a look for a 10-foot distance when perhaps I should focus on skill and correct technique.

Here begins my first challenge and a huge learning curve. Starting this project with "willy-nilly" in my bonnet and a huge dose of over-confidence, I have found many pictures, which I might incorporate it into my challenge items, and I am charging away with an over abundance if research. The day the challenge started, I was away from home, and so I set to a loop-on-loop chain in copper wire for a beaded cinture, that I yet to fully plan. Next day I started to work on a camicia-drafted, cut it and then while couching down the first inches of camicia trim, my machine quit working. Large amounts of "blue smoke" appeared and I set that project aside with the feeling that something was pushing me to do more handwork for this and less with much loved modern technology. Beginning in earnest on jewelry instead, I made the cinture, and a brochetta (pendant), and perla orecchini. Started a bead choker, hated it, and put it aside. Then I made hairpins and a hairpiece. Turning back to sewing, I have finished a colletto mostly by hand and have starting making trim and smocking camicia sleeves. Since my favorite machine is working again, I am also planning to finish a camicia. I would love to make a sleeveless open front sottana in magenta linen. As I pipe dream I plan a brocchetta di testa in pink pearls and to redo that ugly choker. Time is getting short. We shall see. Well "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" - I look forward to your kind input. 

Wire - a period appropriate technique for recreating jewelry of the Renaissance.

One of my favorite changes in clothing and fashion in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance is jewelry. Jewelry became an essential part of Renaissance fashion, not just for nobility but for the rising middle class, as well. We see beads, pearls and chains, delicate filigree, cloisonné, and gem studded jewelry rendered in exquisite detail in Renaissance portraiture. As sumptuary laws restricted who could wear jewelry, when, and where it could be worn, the broaches that were popular in the Middle Ages migrated to become other less regulated adornments[1]. Meanwhile the New World and trade routes from the Middle East and India brought more metal and gems onto the European market. The thirst for knowledge developed technology. Technological advances allowed the arts to flourish. Technology produced better metals and better wire. Wire jewelry techniques flourished. Wire and prong mountings for gemstones and beads become as popular as bezel mountings as new gems from India and beautiful beads from Arabia became available. Beads and chains became high fashion. Classical Study brought change: The revival of Classical Greek, Arab, Roman, and Etruscan styles became part of a Renaissance ascetic. Jewelry became delicate, floral, and curvilinear-- not only for exquisite museum quality fine jewelry reserved for only the richest nobles; but especially for jewelry for children and the middle classes.

By the 16th century, both affluent middle and noble classes wore jewelry. Jewelry became European, because "Goldsmiths were employed from abroad and the international availability of printed jewelry designs caused a blend of jewelry styles to occur all over Europe." [2]

However, how people wore their jewels, as well as how much they wore, stayed regional. For Italy, in particular, the region became a center of the increased Jewelry trade. Jewels were worn in the hair, and on the neck, wrist, and waist. The broach became a pendant hung on a chain about the neck and was essential to fashion. Strands of pearls and chains of wire links as well as woven or wrapped wire and were layered around the neck above and below the pendant along with shoulder broaches, hair broaches, and broaches on the bodice. One of my particular favorite changes is the string of beads or filigree chain at the waist, cinture in Italian, which replaced heavier belts of the Gothic silhouette. Rosaries, jeweled or beaded chains to hang pomanders, fans, watches, and chatelaines hung on these belts down the center front of a gown.

Most of the jewelry we see extant is the museum quality pieces made by master artisans for the richest nobles. Most of the lesser or costume jewelry was torn apart and melted down for its elements. Nevertheless, a few pieces remain that show what might have been made for a less wealthy customer. Most of these lesser pieces are less ornate. They are set with glass gem imitations and semi-precious stones. The findings use less metal and are often constructed from wire. The delicacy of them is a significant change form the Medieval broach.

The first thing I encountered in my research was scholarly argument about Renaissance jewelry styles. Did classical design from Etruscan, Greek, Arab, and Roman art influence 15th and 16th century jewelry styles? Was Classical influence the main the reasons beaded and wire technique jewelry became a height of fashion in the Italian Renaissance? Some sources say yes others say no. 'Jewelry 7000 Years' and 'The Design and Creation of Jewelry', for example, report that 15th and 16th century jewelers developed delicate and intricate wire techniques due to Classical revivalism. In particular, the classically influenced techniques sited are: filigree, granulation, cloisonné, twisted wire chaining, wire link chaining, wire gem settings, beads on chains, wire beads, and beads on twisted wire, all of which become important elements of Renaissance jewelry style. These developed "first"[3] in Florence, Rome, and Venice and then spreading to the rest of Europe. However as documentation 'Jewelry 7000 Years', provides little support for the theory of Classical influence on Renaissance style. The source documentation pictured by these experts is Byzantine Empire and Roman Empire jewelry rather than 15th or 16th century examples. The Antique Jewelry University website, contradicts their supposition and indicates a strong classical influence on art and aesthetics but not a direct influence on Italian Jewelry of the 15th and 16th century. This source maintains that very few ancient examples existed in period hence classical revivalism did not have strong influence on jewelry.[4]

My conclusion from this argument is, while the artist of the Renaissance found inspiration from the classics, they did not recreate copies. I have chosen two 16th Century examples of cinture that can be sited as Classically influenced, one Venetian and one Florentine. In these examples the fronts' pieces varies from the belt around the waist. These examples are very different from ancient examples, but the construction techniques used are those sited as Classical Revivalism, and the prevalence of beads and filigree, the design and construction technique show that classical revivalism could be responsible for the new jewelry styles of the Renaissance.

Beads, filigree and rosary fall under a category of Classical influence.

Detail of Unknown artist of the Venetian School 1540 - a strand of granulated gold beads circles the waist. The front's piece is perhaps a rosary.

Detail of Frederico Zeri's Florentine lady 1550 - a wide filigree belt and hanging beads.


'Jewelry 7000 Years' uses these as examples of influence on Renaissance jewelry style.

Byzantine body chain 4th Century AD, P.99.

Roman 1st Century AD, p.87.

Instead, I would like to propose an alternative theory; the reason for filigree, cloisonné, twisted wire chaining, wire link chaining, wire gem settings, beads on twisted wire and so forth is technological. Wire-making techniques in Europe improved starting in the Middle Ages and spread during the Renaissance.

Although the origin of wire making is unknown, wire has existed since prehistory. Until the 13th Century, wire was most commonly made in Europe by the labor intensive and expensive technique of "forming": Metal ingots were pounded and rolled into wire. Formed wire tends to be brittle and is not only difficult to make, pounded metal is more difficult to work-- pounding on metal makes it stiff. The artist must anneal and pickle the metal to be able to bend and work it. Because of this, wire production was limited to the skilled and guild protected artisan. Quantity was not easily available.

Wire became an easy, available, and cost efficient choice for jewelry production when the technique of "drawing" became the method of choice for wire production. Drawing is the process of pulling metal through a series of holes in a drawplate from larger to smaller until the wire is the desired "gauge" or diameter. This first commercial production was a heavy wire for armorers rather than jewelers. The earliest evidence of the drawplate used in Europe according the Antique Jewelry University is 600 AD.[5] However, "Commercially produced drawn wire existed [first] in France in the late thirteenth century and was made for the construction of chain-mail armor used by medieval knights."[6]

A 15th century jeweler's workshop.
Wire thin and flexible enough for a jewelers use required the introduction of better purity of metals or consistent and improved alloys. Thinner wire had to be formed in the Middle Ages due to the quality of the metals used. 15th and 16th century, improvements in metallurgy produced metals that were more ductile. Renaissance metallurgists refined the science of assaying and smelting ores,[7] thus producing purer, finer metal grades as well as better quality alloys. Improvements in making metals made it possible to draw better, thinner wire from both fine and lesser metals - which allowed for drawn strands of consistent and thinner diameters. Starting from the mid 15th Century, jewelers as well as armorers commonly drew wire. Wire making became a sub-industry of the jeweler's guilds.

Another change in the late 15th Century helped technologies influence: more metals, gems, and beads flowed into Europe through trade routes from India and the Middle East. The conquest of the New World introduced platinum as well as South American gold and silver. And with quantities and alloys, wire became affordable for both fashion and fine jewelry. Drawn wire was more supple and easier to work than formed wire. Better materials increased productivity and innovation.

Thus technology, the development of metal science and drawn wire technique, allowed the availability of jewelry to a wider sector of the population of the 16th Century. Did classical design from Etruscan, Greek, Arab, and Roman art influence 15th and 16th century jewelry styles? Was Classical influence the main the reasons beaded and wire jewelry became a height of fashion in the Italian Renaissance? Maybe yes maybe no? The delicate style of these jewelers; filigree, granulation, twisted wire chaining, wire link chaining, wire gem settings, and beads on twisted wire, can, however, be attributed to better wire.

[1] "When sumptuary legislations in the 1470's forbade women of Florence to wear more than one brooch in total, many shoulder brooches were used as pendants instead. Needless to say, that eventually was forbidden as well... (Brown 2001: 73). But it was probably still common to have a "standard" brooch that could be used as pendant, or on shoulder or head."


[3] Sometimes due to the import of learning from the Middle East, where the techniques originated.

"Half way through the 15th century general art styles changed in Italy. Artists started to draw inspiration from the Ancient Greek and Roman world. Funded by the royal families from the extremely wealthy Italian cities many artists were able to devote their lives to their personal development of skill and style. The classical influence was not as much a copying of techniques, but more a general style, which was derived from ancient sculptures.
Jewelry wasn't influenced directly; hardly any ancient jewelry was known in those days apart from the surviving cameos, which had remained fashionable objects throughout the Middle Ages. Ancient techniques like filigree or delicate, all-gold jewelry weren't revived but rather, it was the classical and mythological themes that provided the link with the ancient world. ... From Italy the style spread north gradually over the 16th century, slowly replacing the Gothic style of the Middle Ages."


[6] Page 192, Oppi Untracht, Metal Techniques For Craftsmen, a Basic Manual on the Methods of Forming and Decorating Metals, Doubleday & Company, Inc, Garden City, New York, 1968. 

[7]" "Probierbüchlein (Little Book of Assays) published, becomes important guide to assaying of metals" in 1520, "Spanish conquistadors find platinum (an alloy) in South America in" 1550, "First European [commercial] lab for smelting ores to test for gold" in 1580

My first challenge item: A beaded girdle/cinture of twisted copper wire, glass, crystals, rose and cherry quartz for a gown 1530-1560

My inspiration for a cinture comes from 3 main sources, jewels found in the Cheapside Hoard, a 1560 portrait of children wearing bead jewelry, and a 1550 Moroni portrait.

Jewelry form the Cheapside Hoard. 

Detail of Antonio Fasolo’s Portrait of Paola Bonanome Gualdo and daughters1560. 

Moroni 1552

Despite the scholarly disagreement of classical influence I discuss in my opening essay, I love the look of the belt with front’s piece made from different techniques and wanted to incorporate more than one “Classically influenced technique” into my cinture. I did not have enough beads to cover the entire chain, nor did I wish to hide the hand made chain. Therefore, I choose to make a sturdy belt with a solid waist chain adorned with large-hole beads at intervals. I also wanted to try three of the linkage techniques to set the belt off with a more delicate twisted wire front’s piece. I choose beaded links, open wire-mount gem links, and filigree from jewelry techniques 16th Century Renaissance.

My choice is practical as well as aesthetic or historical: I hang things from my belt and need a strong single unit chain that will hold up to heavy use. In addition, a thick tight woven chain will not snag my pleats or catch when I sit, where as filigree and twisted link beads on the back waist of a cinture might. Moreover, open, wire-mount gems can pop out if leaned against and bent or twisted. I put the delicate bits where they can be protected.

I used 25 M of 22 gauge copper wire, 10+ yards of 18 gauge copper wire, pink glass pearl beads, pink glass cut crystal beads, oval rose quartz cabochons with wire mount grooves, carved heart rose quartz beads, carved floral beads of cherry quartz and rose quartz, square metal lined beads in mauve and copper fleck glass plus oval rose quartz metal lined beads and copper bead caps.

Two16th century techniques produce almost identical looking round chains, a 3-way single loop-in loop link chain and a six point loop-on-loop wire wrapped chain.

Although the Italian jeweler may have chosen the first technique for the waist chain, I used wire loop-on-loop wrapping. It is hard to see the difference between the two finished chain styles. My chain is sturdy, lightweight, flexible and most importantly, I have some skill in this technique and can do it within the time restraint of this challenge. My wonderful feline assistants named Buddy and Honey make the first method impossible for me - they would scatter individual links to the four winds.

By the 16th century, Renaissance examples of round chaining could be found throughout Europe.

I was planning to leave the chain un-adorned, but it looked un-finished. Moreover, I found no examples of 16th century Italian cinture with a plain chain belt. So I used some large holed beads in rose quartz and copper flecked mauve glass and wrapped coils of copper to hold them in place in intervals on the chain. The coils pierce the chain and are applied directly with pliers. This will leave me room to hang a fan or a chatelaine on a removable chain.

For the beaded links:
I used 3 techniques to make the links of the fronts-piece chain.

The first is a beaded link of glass pearl, pink crystal beads, or rose quartz hearts with 2 wrapped wire eyes. The beaded chain of the extant 16C Cat pendant pictured on the right uses this style of link. This technique is done with round nose pliers.


The style second link is a wire wrapped onto a side-grooved cabochon with 2 wire wrapped eyes. This creates a 2 sided backless mounting. This technique is done, again, with round nose pliers.

My third style choice for a link is wire filigree. I use a wire-bending jig to create this link and used matching bead caps to finish the ends and a jump ring to stabilize the center.

The finial and clasp of my cinture are flowers of carved cherry quartz. Again, I turn to the Cheapside Hoard finding a carved stone floral bead as my inspiration. I used wire curls glass pearls to attach the carved beads as a finial and clasp. This technique is done, again, with round nose pliers.


I made one final addition to the cinture. I made a matching chain a hanger for tools, fans, or as shown here, a hankie. The hankie is treaded through an additional filigree link. (Hankie is a family heirloom. It was made by my Auntie 50 years ago, and is to demonstrate how the hanger works.) This chain can be attached to its partner cinture at the side, hooked to the sleeve or around the wrist, or to the bodice lacings.



My Second challenge Items: A Pendant with matching Earrings

“The most important jewelry item from the Renaissance was the pendant. It replaced the Medieval brooch as being the most common jewel and was worn on a necklace, long gold chain, fixed to the dress or on a chain worn on the girdle… “[1]

A pendant with a cushion cut rose quartz mounted in sterling silver, with carved black onyx hands, baroque pearl and faceted cherry quartz crystal drop. Matching orecchini of twisted wire, baroque pearls and faceted cherry quartz crystal drops.


I have always enjoyed the use of the hand that appeared in the Renaissance and thought this was the perfect use for stone hand beads I was given. I have chosen a granulated cast wire to wrap the hands.

The base of my pendant is a sterling, square finding with a slot running from the sides through the center. A similar example of this style finding is a circular pendant from Florence with a cherry pit suspended on a wire. It comes from the first half of the 16th Century.

The center of my pendant is a lovely Rose quartz. Prong-set, faceted gemstones were common in the 16th century, although the cut of the stone is no longer readily available. I have chosen a gem cut the closest cut to 15th Century French cut[3]; a cushion cut rose quartz, which I have mounted in a wire basket finding.

I have finished my pendant with a pearl like the Florentine example and cherry quartz briolette drop. Additionally, this is a wire made broach with a prong mount gem and twisted wire eyes.

The earrings I made match the drop on the pendant. They are hung on a fishhook style wire, which I also made.


Materials used:
A Cushion cut 5.08 CT rose quartz 10mm x 7mm, A silver wire prong mounting, carved black stone beads in the shape of hands, an open square silver finding, rose quartz 4MM round beads, granular wire, a matching granulated pinch bail, baroque pearls, cherry quartz faceted drop, silver bead caps, fine silver wire.

Techniques used:
The hands and the gem basket are wired onto the square finding with rose quartz bead spacers. Silver bead caps are added to hold the basket firm. A cast, granulated wire is wrapped around the wrist of the hand beads to cover the wire wrap. A matching granulated bail is mounted at the top center. Bead caps cover the wire end and create a bail for the 3 faceted drops with pearls above set on wire with a twisted eye at the top. One of these attaches to the Gem basket on the pendant, the others are earrings. The entire piece is made with round nose pliers and Gem setting pliers.

(The fine silver chain I used is made loop-on-loop 32-gauge wire wrapping flattened to a ribbon, which I wove at a much earlier date than this challenge. It is not being submitted)

[2] [Edited out]
[3] “The first French cut diamonds are cut during the 15th century” Antique Jewelry University

My third challenge Item: A Partlet/Colletto

Half a yard embroidered linen (I used every square inch except for the arm and neck cut-outs), and 2 floral glass beads.

Store bought rayon lace hand dyed Candy Pink with Ritt dye for the pink accent edging. It is representative of the Reticella or Punto Couppe lace of the 16th century.[1]

Store-bought, Polyester lace for the falling band on the collar. chosen to represent a 16C Bobbin lace extant example.


Hand made silk blend lucet cord, for stringhe di sengaletto and ties on this garment . I made 4 yards of lucet cord for this out of a matt, silk-blend yarn I used 1 yard of this for the ties with figure eight knots to finish the ends.

My pattern: hand-drafted of 4 pieces. Measured and drew it point to point/free form directly onto the fabric. Then I checked my draft against a pattern from an outerwear vest for ease. It was drafted like this: front cut 2 on selvage; back cut one; ties cut 4; band collar cut one. This is cut generously so it can be tucked. The trim on the edges serves a duel purpose; it finishes the edge so it can be worn on top, and helps hold the colletto in place when tucked.

I serged the shoulder and neck seams, plus the ties, then finished the rest of garment by hand.

Here are Inside views of my hand work: I reinforced the shoulder seams with velvet ribbon using an “invisible stitch” with the 5-stitch prick to the outside (to cover the machine serged seam). The band collar is serged on to the wrong side and slip-stitched on the right side.

Partlet inside neck edge and shoulder seams

Rolled hem, centre front

Rolled hems and lace stitching

A polyester machine-made embroidered cutwork lace (done on water soluble stabilizer) is whip stitched to the top of the band as a falling band of Venetian lace. The pink accent lace is then applied on the inside of the band to show when the colletto is worn with the collar open – but also so the picots show on the outside when it is worn closed. I used hemstitching for rolled hems. Here you can also see an inside view of the invisible stitch with a 5 stitch prick. A single quatrefoil sits on the Center-front bottom edge in case the colletto is folded open.


Hairpins and a Hairpiece.

With a hairpiece, I can take off the coif sometimes.

I French braid my hair and tie the braids in back into an overhand knot bun. The rat fits over my own bun and is held by 2 hair picks. (Shown it is held with a black hair pick, I will actually use a pair of children's chopsticks with pink tips, which still need the Hello Kitty design painted out with nail polish). The second braid is attached to the bottom of the rat and wrapped around in a braid crown, supporting the rat at the nape of the neck or higher on the head.

Here is a link on my Facebook page as to how I made my Rat.

I used: a thrift-store hairpiece (wire cage and 6" blonde hair) torn apart washed and re-sewn, hair extensions - I package bit 20+" natural straight hair matching my color, 1 package kinky 15" length and synthetic, braids - parts of 3 packages synthetic in browns and one package dark blonde, pink hemp cord, pink velvet ribbon, pink beads, glass pearls, 18-Gauge copper wire, bees wax from a candle.

I made two types of hairpins. There are the beads and pearls, and there are the eye pins.

The first are a bead placed in the middle of a 5-6 inch wire, which is then twisted into the hairpin with round-nose pliers. Next, I dip it into beeswax from a lit candle. The beeswax keeps it from catching hair between the wires and helps it hold. It must be re-dipped as often as every other time it is worn. The second are eye pins, which is a loop with no bead made the same way. It is used for holding in braid ends. It can also be used as a broach holder or a holder for a pearl string, to add jewelry into the hairstyle.


Additional to Bibliography --Websites:

Hair taping:
Metropolitan Museum Hairpin:
Catherine Di Medici's hairpin:

Web sites:
Antique Jewelry University:
The Anea Costumes:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Web Gallery of Art:
Museum of London:
The History Blog: and
The London National Gallery:
The Florence Files:
20-20 site Lace making:
Cathy Snell:
Renaissance Tailor:

Jewelry 7000 Years, An International History and Illustrated Survey from the collections of the British Museum, Hugh Tait, Harry n Abrams, Inc Publishers NY 1986

The Design and Creation of Jewelry, Revised Edition, Robert Van Neumann, Chilton Book Company, Ontario Canada, 1972

Metal Techniques For Craftsmen a basic manual of forming metals with 769 illustrations, Oppi Untract, Doubleday and Company Inc, Garden City, NY 1975

The History of Beads, from 30,000 BC to the Present, Lois Sherr Dubin, Harry n. Abrams, New York, 1987

Classical Loop in loop Chains & their Derivatives, Jean Reist Stark & Joseph Reist Smith, Brynmorgen Press, Portland ME, 1999

Great Wire Jewelry Projects and Techniques, Irene From Peterson, Lark Books, Ashville NC, 1996

An Illustrated History of Jewelry, 2530 term related to gemstones, jewels, materials, processes, styles, designers, and makers from antiquity to the present day. Thames and Hudson, ltd., London 1981

Making Wire Jewelry, 60 easy projects in Silver Copper & Brass, Helen Clegg & Mary Larom, Lark Books, New York, 1997

Great Wire Jewelry, Projects and Techniques, Irene From Peterson, Lark Books, 1998

Antique Combs & Purses, Evelyn Haertig, The Newport Press, Santa Ana CA, 1983

An illustrated Outline History of Man, Vol. I, Fay Cooper Cole, Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago, 1965

Resplendence of the Spanish Monarchy, Renaissance Tapestries and Armor from the Patrimonio Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York1991

Art History Museum Vienna, Great Museums of the World, Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, Newsweek, Inc. & Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milan 1969

The Uffizi, Scala Guides to Art, Luciano Berti, Two Continents Publishing Group, Florence, 1971

Titain’s La Bella, Woman in a Blue Dress, Marco Caitti, Fausta Navarro, Patrizia Riitano, Pacini Editore Industrie Grafiche, Pisa 2011

The Tudor Tailor, Techniques and Patterns for Making Historically Accurate Period Clothing, Ninya Mikhaila & Jane Malcom-Davies, Costume and fashion Press, Hollywood, 2006

Renaissance Patterns for Lace, Embroidery and Needlepoint, an unabridged Facsimile of the Singuliers et nouveaux pourtraicts’ of 1587, Ferderico Vinciolo, Dover Books, New York, 1971

Banner image taken from: Domenico Ghirlandaio, Birth of St John the Baptist, 1486-90, Cappella Tornabuoni, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.


© 2001 - 2012 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.