Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ella Naper Lily-Pad Combs

Ella married painter Charles W.S. Naper, who became well-known for his English countryside landscapes. They lived and worked in Lamorna, a fishing village in West Cornwall. Ella made this pair of lily-pad combs out of green-tinted horn, and created the dewdrops from moonstones, c. 1906.

And here is her portrait, painted by her husband.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Ella and Charles Naper: Art & Life at Lamorna

Art Nouveau Jewelry, by Vivienne Becker

Diamond Tiara / Diamond Pin

In the Victorian Era, jewelry was convertible. A set of three diamond sprays would come with different fittings. In this 1855 example from Hunt & Roskell of London, the diamond pieces combined to make a tiara or corsage pin, were worn individually as brooches. Or, the two larger pieces could be attached to tortoiseshell side combs. The fittings were placed neatly in the original velvet box, underneath the pad on which the diamonds rested. The initials MP and a Viscount’s coronet were stamped on top. They suggest the diamonds belonged to Mary Portman, wife of the 2nd Viscount Portman, who married in 1855.


For more scholarly research, please examine

7000 Years of Jewelry

Creative Museum in Weranda Magazine

The Creative Museum was featured in Poland’s Weranda Magazine. The Polish-to-English translation was done by Kajetan Fiedorowicz. (Thank you!) Both of us thought real scholarship in hair-comb history was too vast to be portrayed in a magazine article. However, here is what Weranda wrote. They tried, I guess. My favorite part was the way they photographed a small portion of The Creative Museum’s collection.


“Combs were used to underline natural beauty, bring luck in love, and scare off bad spirits. In the beginning, fish-skeleton combs were used as bug removers. Supplied by Mother Nature, they had nothing to do with hair grooming at all.

“In Ancient Greece, an anonymous first woman left a comb in her hair as an ornament out of boredom. We don’t know who she was, but her novelty was immediately noted, and a new fashion trend started. Craftsmen carved beautiful scenes on ivory and bone. Upper-class women would wear combs made of gold and silver, often encrusted with precious stones.

“In the Middle Ages, combs went back to being utilitarian. Sometimes, an inscription “memento mori” would remind one of unavoidable death. (Editor’s note: the carving art was reserved for liturgical combs, especially in France.) Most women covered their hair with headdresses.

“In the 16th Century, combs became ornaments made of expensive materials once more. They denoted social status, as did jewelry or a fan. Since a wig was able to support a heavier comb safely, their popularity allowed jewelers to adorn combs with additional precious stones.

“The 19th Century brought the Industrial Revolution to comb making. In France, Germany, and in also in Poland, gutta percha and early plastics replaced expensive tortoiseshell, making combs cheaper and affordable to the general public.

“Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, known for her innovations in jewelry design, played a leading role in creating new trends in hair combs. Jewelers became very busy trying to please the queen.

“Today we have wide access to various combs. However, those truly amazing pieces are available only in museums and well guarded private collections.”

Susan Maxwell Schmidt: LongLocks HairSticks

We are honored to present an interview with jewelry artist Susan Maxwell Schmidt of LongLocks HairSticks. Her philosophy of making each piece a one-of-a-kind work of art has given her jewelry an international fan base. Of course everyone wants to know how she does it.

BA: How do you choose your beads?

Susan: “Whenever I look at a bead, I imagine it on one of my designs. I don’t try to do this, I can’t help but do this. If I like what my mind’s eye sees, then it gets added to my massive bead collection. Not that I don’t sometimes buy beads with no intention of ever putting them on hair sticks (a set of hand-carved huge but gorgeously delicate smoky topaz leaves I bought for a necklace comes to mind). That being said however, I’ll sit on some beads for years and “rediscover” them again at some point, and often what I end up using them for is entirely different from the purpose for which I initially bought them.”

BA: Do you look at the bead and choose the hair-stick style, or does your creative process go the other way around?

Susan: I swing both ways. Special-edition design sticks are often designed for the beads. I give myself more leeway in designing the other way around for regular designs, which gives me an excuse to forage through the bead drawers. I have them arranged by company/country/color in my studio. In addition, there are boxes of beads I haven’t had a chance to organize yet. That’s when I do a lot of the “rediscovering” I mentioned earlier. “Whoa, where’d they come from? Never seen those before!”

BA: What inspires you to come up with a new LongLocks HairSticks style?

Susan: Anything that is artistic or can be perceived from an artistic point of view. I have been inspired by things as simple as a color, a pattern in fabric, or a single painting or dyeing technique. My most unusual inspiration came when Home Depot screwed me on a granite order so I finished the horrendous Formica countertops in my otherwise gorgeous kitchen in copper foil with veining of multicolor metallic earth tones and a buff of black acrylic. Once the whole thing was sealed under a thick coat of Bar Coat, I loved it so much I had to do something similar on hair sticks. That’s how LongLocks MineraliStix and RomanzaStix were born (put them together and you know what my kitchen counters look like).

BA: Which fashion icons have inspired you, in your art and in your life?

Susan: I don’t know that my art is directly inspired by fashion icons but surely it ends up being affected by my fashion sense and tastes. I am a fashionista, and though I do love clothes my uncontrollable shopping addiction is all about accessories, especially jewelry, handbags and shoes. I am currently on a major Kendra Scott kick and think I’ll end up owning just about every pair of chandelier earrings and cuff she makes. I feel as though as far as design goes, she is to affordable designer jewelry what I am to hair accessories… if I designed production jewelry, it would all be in the same style as Kendra Scott’s. My favorite fashion designers (keeping it to the bare minimum and keeping it in the moment) are Alexander McQueen, Marchesa, Dior, Zuhair Murad and Valentino. My fav accessories designers are Alexander McQueen, Furla, Isabella Fiore, Adrienne Vittadini and Chanel. And Kate Spade. And Oscar de la Renta. And Judith Leiber. And Charles Jourdan. And Hype. And Marc Jacobs. And Junior Drake. And La Fiorentina. And…

BA: Everyone knows your designs come from your own creativity. That is why you have such a fan base. How do you feel about people who rip off your designs?

Susan: You know, it used to bother me a lot but years ago someone pointed out to me how much better it is to be in the position of being the one people want to copy rather than being someone so sadly unimaginative as to have to copy others. That was an epiphany for me and changed my entire outlook on the subject. There are so few people who are seriously designing handmade upscale hair jewelry that it becomes blatantly obvious to hair jewelry collectors who is copying whom. Considering how often it’s pointed out to me that someone else has done a poor job of imitating my ideas or my designs, I’ve come to the conclusion that they do infinitely more harm to themselves and their own reputation than they can possibly do to me.

Integrity is important to me and my customers know that. My designs are my designs and my customers know that. Other “artist’s” ideas are often my ideas and many of my customers tell me that. I don’t spend time thinking about what anyone else is doing and I rarely even bother to look at anyone else’s designs or sites. It’s just not important to me, and my time definitely is, so that’s not how I choose to spend it.


For more addictive shopping at affordable prices and hair-care information, please examine

LongLocks HairSticks

Longlocks Special Edition Designs

The Hair Care Recipes Cookbook

The Ultimate Guide to Growing Long Hair

Cameo Diadems of Empress Joséphine

After Napoléon’s coronation ceremony, where he proclaimed Joséphine Empress, she prized diadems made of cameos. Cameos are a raised image carved on hard stone, such as agate. They have been popular in jewelry design since Ancient Greece. However, Europeans preferred to create cameos out of conch shells.

This diadem resides in the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire, Palais Massena in Nice, France. The cameos are set in gold, silver, ivory, rubies, and sapphires.

This diadem is made from lapis cameos and delicate pearls set in gold. The center cameo portrays Napoléon Bonaparte. Notice how the raised sculptures are a bit darker than the background.

The cameos in this diadem are made from coral, each piece of which has color variations. It is set in gold with lapis-lazuli inlay. Given that Josephine was Empress from 1804 – 1810, when she agreed to a divorce because she could not bear a child, this design was way ahead of its time.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Nineteenth Century Cameos by Michelle Rowan

Tiara by Diana Scarisbrick

The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon’s Josephine

Jen Cruse: The Fleur-de-Lys Motif

By Jen Cruse:

The fleur-de-lys (often spelt “lis”) motif is frequently encountered on ornamental haircombs, either as part of the overall decorative heading or as an applied embellishment. It is said to represent three central petals of the lily, a flowering plant of the genus iris.

The initial conclusion may be that combs depicting this motif must be of French origin, but not necessarily so. The fleur-de-lys was and still is widely used on innumerable artefacts and textiles around the world, although no doubt it had its origins in France.

Certainly the name is French, meaning the “flower of the lily” or “lily flower” and, according to encyclopaedic references, is a very old pattern that was used as decoration in ancient times in countries as far apart as India, Egypt and Italy.

It first appeared in Europe in the 12th century as a motif on heraldic coats of arms. It was the emblem of the French Kings and was depicted on the French Royal flags, shields and banners up to 1789. When Edward III of England (1312-1377) claimed the throne of France, he added three fleurs-de-lys to the three lions of England, and they remained on the English royal arms until 1800. To this day the fleurs-de-lys are still part of the decoration of the royal crown.

The fleur-de-lys is the adopted emblem of the city of Florence in Italy. It also appears on 17th century tombs in Delft churches in The Netherlands. In religious pictures the motif, like the ordinary lily that signifies purity, is symbolic of the Virgin Mary. The motif also became the emblem, in a modified form, for the Scouting movement worldwide, founded by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907.

The 3 combs illustrating the fleur-de-lys motif are all made from celluloid (cellulose nitrate) and date from around 1910 to 1914.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Jen Cruse: The Comb

The website of the Antique Comb Collectors Club

Fake Lalique: Real Lalique

This article on Google documents fake Lalique auctions on E-bay.

Beginning collectors, please remember: Lalique, LC Tiffany, Faberge and other great jewelers transformed jewelry with ideas: metamorphosis, symbolism, nature, modernism — the same ideas, which were inspiring Rodin, Redon, Rimbaud, and artists all across the Western World. Japonisme came from welding Edo Japanese art and European philosophy together.

That means a piece made by a visionary’s own hands is unique because it could have never been imagined before. It’s a very different article than combs of a type, such as the two-pronged Victorian hair comb, tortoiseshell back comb, or diamond opera comb. They are beautiful, too. Tiffany & Co. and Cartier produced exquisite representations of popular fashion. They are valid collector’s items, but they weren’t new. They make you admire, not think.

Here are the fakes. The article said someone paid $2000 for one of them.

And here is the real master. This Lalique comb with butterflies carved on tortoiseshell has 18K-gold beetles holding up a banister of citrines and diamonds. It is hinged to a horn comb and sold for $21,800 at Sothebys in 2009.

Here is a similar design on a horn back comb, except Lalique chose dragonflies, so he could drop their tails over the comb’s tines.

In this Symbolist masterpiece, Lalique elongates a woman’s arms to make a triangle and then places a triangular amethyst underneath. c. 1900:


For more scholarly research, please examine

Rene Lalique: Schmuck Und Objets D’Art, 1890-1910 (Materialien zur Kunst des. 19. Jahrhunderts)

Rene Lalique at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum