Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jeweled Headbands

When I look at a portrait with an eye for making accessories, I try to break it down into all it's various components.  What style of earrings is she wearing?  What types of stones are in her belt?  What is the proportion of the pearls in her necklace to its pendant?  When you look at portraits this way, you start to notice trends.  For instance, while I was looking at a portrait of Lucrezia de' Medici that I'd been analyzing with the idea of recreating her outfit, I couldn't help but notice her lovely headband.  I thought, "What a beautiful piece of jewelry!  I want one!"  lol

1560 Portrait of Lucrezia de' Medici by Alessandro Allori

Curious now, I started looking back through my portrait collection to see how common headbands like these were in Italy in the mid- to late-1500s.  I easily found more than 30 and I hadn't even looked through a quarter of the portraits! I'd casually noticed them before, but now my interest had been piqued and I started playing with ideas on how to make them.

I designed quite a few different styles, then settled on three that were similar in feel to the ones in the portraits.  The first I named after Lucrezia de' Medici, since it was her portrait that sparked my interest.  The second I named after a wonderful Italian woman artist, Sofonisba Anguissola.  The painting below shows her and her sisters all wearing jeweled headbands!  The third was named for the famous Venetian poetess and courtesan, Veronica Franco.  I plan on adding more styles as well.

1555 Portrait of the Artist's Sisters Playing Chess by Sofonisba Anguissola

The pictures below show a few examples of my versions of the Italian jeweled headband.  I use Swarovski crystal, fresh and cultured pearls, and various semi-precious stone cabochons.  All components are soldered securely to the headband.  I tried various methods like wire wrapping, but I found that soldering gave me the best combination of versatility and security, plus I didn't get my hair caught in it, which is always a plus, right?

de' Medici


As always, I love seeing portraits I haven't seen before, so by all means, let me know if you find one that's interesting!  Email me at

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Introduction

  Hello!  My name is Holly Howarth Tippetts.  I've been designing and making jewelry, as well as creating various other unique accessories, for over 10 years.  While I do make a living selling my work, this blog is not meant to sell you things!  Instead, it's a place where I can share where I've gotten some of my ideas and what the finished product turned out like.  I probably won't post more than a couple of times a month, and when I do post, I'll try to keep it interesting!  I admit to hoping that maybe, just maybe, one of my posts will bring the same passion to you as it did to me.

I grew up participating in a medieval and renaissance reenactment group, the Society for Creative Anachronisms or SCA (  This has definitely flavored my tastes in jewelry!  I get most of my inspiration from the renaissance and ancient Roman time periods, through portraits, extant pieces, and descriptions in contemporary accounts.  It's amazing the amount of items that have survived for hundreds or even thousands of years, and though some people tend to think of anything made before modern times as crude and clumsy, the opposite is often the case!  For instance, did you know that some glass making techniques that were used in renaissance Italy cannot be duplicated today?

Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy my adventures through time and fashion.  If you have questions about my work, or have something to add to my research, please let me know!  I always welcome input.