Apr 152011

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What are & how to make “Quadruples” of pearls

“Quadruples” on the gown, “Cinques” on the necklace and headdress

For the decoration of bodice, sleeves and skirt of my ‘Pelican’ gown, I needed “Quadruples”.
I’m calling them by this name because the “usual” Elizabethan decoration are “Cinques” (which are – in the Pelican Portrait – only used on Elizabeth’s necklace) – “Fivepacks” of pearls, arranged in a geometric way; and their origin is Spanish – the Spanish word for “five” is “cinque” – but those decorations on the “Pelican” gown only consist of four instead of five pearls, so – “Quadruples”.
Here’s how to make them.

These pictures are, actually, the best proof that digital cameras hate the color red.
Believe it or not, all the pictures in the following small tutorial were taken within about ten minutes, under the same light conditions and all except of one with a flash. They all show the same red fabric in the background, which has a solid color. Oh, and by the way – all pictures show the same “Quadruple” being worked on, with the same golden wire in all pictures…:

  1. Take a piece of fine gold wire, approximately half a yard long (as long as you can handle without dangling it).
  2. Add one pearl, leaving an end of about 1 1/2 inches of wire behind that pearl.
    (note: in this picture, the 1 1/2 inch end is barely visible, thanks to the flash – it runs towards the bottom front middle of this picture. Golden wire, remember…? I know it looks like silver here – but the background is also purple, not red, right…?)
  3. Add a golden bead on the long side of the wire, …
  4. …then bring the longer end of the wire back through the pearl (and *just* the pearl, *not* the golden bead!) by practically running it backwards the way it came from. The golden bead will prevent the wire from slipping back through the pearl.
  5. Result: One pearl with a golden bead on one hole and two wires – one short, one long – coming from the other hole. Twist the wire a few times *in* the hole.
  6. Repeat that process with another pearl and bead, just that this time you’ll want no end of wire, but the holes of the (now two) pearls where the ends of the wire emerge from as close together as you can.
    What you can see at the bottom of this picture is the loop of wire with the bead which is still not pulled through the second pearl; I was just trying to illustrate how close the bottom holes of the pearls should be:
  7. Repeat the process for a third pearl and bead, so that you get a triangle-shaped arrangement of pearls.
  8. Twist the short and long ends of the wire two to three times, to secure that triangle shape.
  9. Now bring the long end of the wire from the bottom side (you decide what the “bottom” shall be 😉 ) of that triangle middle to the top.
  10. Add another pearl and bead, bringing the long wire end back to the bottom.
  11. Twist long and short end of the wire several times (but not too hard),…
  12. …then form a tiny loop (a tiny crocheting needle or something likely can help if your fingernails are not long enough to bend the wire at short distance from the pearl’s holes) and bring the ends of both wires back to the “top”, next to the upper pearl and bead. …
    (Bravo! The first picture which actually lets the pearls look like pearls… *sigh*… the “bottom” is facing towards the right here, and the “top” to the left:)
  13. Twist several times around the base of the upper pearl. If needed, make “8” shaped movements with the wire around the outer pearls to bring them closer together. Cut wire if you think you have a tight packet of four pearls with beads and a loop at the bottom.
  14. Finished! Repeat the whole process about 60 times for the “Pelican” gown decoration… sigh…
    (Note: the top bead here has a bit too much wire sticking out. Something like this can easily be fixed by twisting the bead several times; this will twist the wire inside the pearl below and therefore shorten the wire, so that the bead comes close to the top of the pearl.)
  15. Time factor? With practice, I could do one “Quadruple” in about 5 minutes… breaks for cursing dropped pearls, restarting because of too short wire etc. not included… So all in all about 7 minutes actually for one Quadruple – so 7 hours for all of them – if I would have worked without a break – which I didn’t….
    In other words, it took me almost two weeks just to finish those particular decoration elements.

I then started decorating the bodice with those “Quadruples” and the smallest golden disks with green stones, following the pattern from the portrait and inventing a likely pattern for the backside of the gown (which of course can’t be seen in the portrait). Here’s a little of that decoration (some of the half sphere caps, which will be described in the next chapter, are also already sewn on in this picture): You can also see the markings (made with a water removable marker) for the placement of the pearls, disks and Quadruples.

  One Response to “Quadruples”

Comments (1)
  1. Incredible site, and your work is stupendous . Just one note, cinque is Italian for five. In Spanish it is cinco. :). Mike

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