This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**



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HI, my name is Val. I'm a Past President & member of the San Diego Costume Guild,Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, and Orange County Costume Guild, & a representative of the San Diego History Center, and an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of it.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Making Victorian mourning brooches

Recently my costume guild planned a mourning walkabout in Old Town San Diego, and with plans to wear appropriate attire. I decided to make myself a mourning brooch, using a technique I had successfully tried on an earlier costume.
After a little more thinking, I decided to make one for each of the 12 ladies attending the event. So I started at Michael’s Craft Store to look for some cameo brooches. They sell them individually for about $3 but with a coupon, can be half price. I couldn’t find a photo of the exact brooch I bought but here are some in a set on their website.

There’s usually some kind of ceramic design in the middle that you use as the base for your portrait. They come in a couple different shapes too.
So then I did a search for “Victorian portraits”, and came up with a link to some being sold on ebay. Most were cabinet portraits, and some were actual brooches for sale. I copied and saved a bunch of them that looked good, and in focus.


I made a Word Document by Inserting each portrait on the page, and shrinking it down to a size that looked like the face area would fit onto the brooch.
I made a template from the center stone of the brooches with paper, and laid it on top of each portrait to include the areas I wanted to keep on the brooch. Using a stiff vinyl or plastic template may give you a better view of the portrait before you cut it. But I didn’t have any problem doing it this way.
I used some black Americana tole paint and rubbed some of it with a paper towel along the edges of the silver brooch to age it.
Then I brushed some Modge Podge (a decoupage paste purchased at Michael’s) on the face of the cameo with my finger. I laid the cut portrait on top of it and tapped it down with a clean finger. Again using my finger, I put more Modge Podge over the top of the portrait, making sure it was all covered and wet. It looks pretty white but it will dry clear. This acts as a glue and a sealant. Nothing else is needed to finish it.
Most of the brooches had a loop for hanging it on a chain; some didn’t but had a loop as part of the frame. I wanted to make these a pinned on brooch, so I tied a narrow black velvet ribbon to each one, and at this time put a safety pin on the ribbon so the ladies could pin it to their blouses. Another option would be to glue a pin back on the back of the brooch.
This is the one I made for me.

These are the ones I made for the other ladies, and you can see the variety of shapes and designs they came in.

Here are two of us wearing our brooches in our mourning outfits.

2 comments:

I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!