The design secrets behind Chloe Menage's Jane Austen inspired beading kits

The design secrets behind Jane Austen’s pendant…

Jane Austen’s Pendant kit is a beading project like no other! Discover more about the items that inspired this literary pendant design…

 I’ve been working on my Jane Austen project for well over a year now, and keeping it under wraps was pretty tough! I’m delighted to say that after a year’s worth of late nights, frantic beading and lots of proof reading I can finally hold in my hands a complete kit and now you can own one too!

Designed for anyone, even those with little or no beading experience, each kit includes a bespoke handmade cabochon, plus all the beads and materials. There are clear instructions with step-by-step photographs and diagrams in a handy booklet. For those already with beading experience the kits are a joy to make using a combination of peyote stitch and bead embroidery techniques.

The Regency-inspired beading kits have been on sale in the gift shops at Jane Austen’s House Museum, Winchester City Museum and the Willis Museum in Basingstoke for the past few weeks and now they are available online through my website and Etsy store.

I wanted to share a little bit about my design journey and the inspiration behind these Jane Austen kits.

Jane Austen’s life in Hampshire

Jane Austen's beaded purse

If you didn’t already know, Jane Austen, one of the world’s most famous authors, spent a majority of her life in my home county – the historic and beautiful county of Hampshire. Its houses, countryside and people provided the inspiration for many of her novels.

Several of Jane’s personal belongings are on display at Winchester City Museum which is run by Hampshire Cultural Trust. In 2015, the trust commissioned a selection of artists to create works inspired by items in this collection. I was honoured to be invited to be one of them. Following my visit to the trust’s archives where I got to see the items owned by Jane up close, I chose from these a poem written by Jane and a tiny green crochet purse decorated with gold beads as inspiration to create this stunning pendant.

I adored how dainty the purse was, and drew inspiration from the colour of the fabric and the beads – green and gold-bronze colour, a great combination! I researched jewellery of the Georgian period – the time that Jane lived – and found many examples of stones and cameos surrounded by pearls or jewels, so I endeavoured to bring this style into my pendant.

A typed up version of Jane's poem

A typed up version of Jane’s poem ‘I’ve a pain in my head’

 

Turning the artefacts into beads

The manuscript is really small, roughly around A6 in size and was penned in Jane’s own hand in February 1811. I loved that the poem was scribed by Jane and knew I had to try and incorporate this unique artefact this into my work, I thought instantly of a cabochon to bead around. I spent some time perfecting the glass cabochons, trying out different adhesives and methods. Each finished cabochon in the kit is handmade by me, it features a copy of the manuscript and is backed with a lovely natural style paper.

The beading foundation for stitching on is ‘Misan’s Wonder’, my preferred fabric for embroidering on, and is handmade by Swedish bead artist Misan Tejre. Misan’s Wonder provides a firm surface to bead embroider on and I found that the subtle olive green colour matched Jane’s beaded purse perfectly. The beads included in the kit are high quality Miyuki Japanese seed beads with Czech glass pearls and the kit also includes needle and thread, so all that’s needed are some sharp scissors and a little fabric glue.

I have also created three other pieces of jewellery which are currently in the care of Hampshire Cultural Trust. The fate of these pieces is still to be decided, so I’ll keep you posted when I know more. Currently Jane Austen’s Pendant is the only kit in my Jane Austen range, but I may decide to expand it in the future, if these prove popular!

Buy the kits

Jane Austen’s Pendant Kit

You can read more about my forage through Hampshire Cultural’s Trusts archives here. If you would like to see Jane Austen’s belongings, both Jane’s poem and the beaded purse are on display at Winchester City Museum, along with her pelisse coat and plenty of other items from Jane’s life in Hampshire.

Working on the Jane Austen designs – photo copyright Hampshire Cultural Trust 2018

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Chloe Menage

Owner at Pinkhot
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