28 June 2012

The Cameo Shoppe

The complete Spring 2012 collection from Miu Miu

The Miu Miu cameos were offered in four bold colors
cerulean blue, poppy red, marigold yellow, and
a pearl gray, none of them traditional cameo colors.
 I have always had a weakness for cameos of all kinds, and yesterday when I bought a new one it occurred to me that I've built up quite a collection. Granted I am certainly no expert, and I don't have the money to buy real top notch examples. But I think I have a pretty good eye for them and have picked up a few interesting variations on the traditional look. Cameo, strictly speaking referrers to the way a piece is made, rather than what it depicts. So a cameo is a carved relief (raised object) in contrast to its background, a positive image, whereas an intaglio is carved into the background,  negative image. Intaglios are far more rare than cameos. Though the art form predates the Romans and can be seen in many different cultures in a variety of mediums (bone, gemstones, wood) by far the most common and best known are carved from conch shells and have a distinctive peach-pink color. These came into vogue in the mid-Victorian age around 1850 and stayed in fashion almost continually. In fact I've seen 2012 be referred to as the year of the cameo several times, most likely because they featured so prominently in Miu Miu and Lanvin's collections. Miu Miu's are bold and graphic, not traditional carved cameos but rather assembled cameos made of crystalized material. Assembled cameos, made of both plaster and plastic are much more the norm today. I'll try to describe what each cameo is, but like I said I'm not an expert. I won't lie though, modern techniques of not I do lust after the Miu Miu cameos, unfortunately I lack the $500-$900 budget to acquire one. I'll stick to the thrift stores and flea markets, I've done very well there so far.
In addition to the unusual colors, the subjects
of the cameos, traditionally either Roman
or in more modern versions Victorian or
Edwardian ladies the Miu Miu cameos feature
more of an Egyptian Nefertiti style woman


Pastimes Consignments, conch in 14 K gold, $16
The only real conch shell cameo I own, it isn't a true pink
anymore, this is one of the downfalls of conch as a medium
the color tends to fade, darken, or otherwise change over time.
This was a really cheap brooch mainly because the carving is very
poor quality, you can't tell form the picture but its also very small.
Plaster Victorian cameo set in painted tin,
Flea Market $5. A very common modern shape and style

Plaster/ Plastic set in metal, Vintage Haven $2. Very cheap in terms of materials but with pretty details and a nice (if common and traditional) carving.
Ring: Free People, glass cameo set in metal $10

                              Cameo Bracelet plaster set in metal, Vintage Haven $2.
                            An interesting variation featuring a young girl with short hair from perhaps the 20's of 30's.
                         The metal of the bracelet itself is very cheap but the cameo is well made and heavy.

My most recent purchase from Revival $25, the tag
read painted milk glass, but I own several pieces of
milk glass and it doesn't have the right texture.
I think its merely painted and gilded porcelain.
It has a few chips in the paint and I suspect it has
been reset into this silver curlicue frame from the traces
of glue visible around the frame on the back.
Brooch/ Necklace.
Floral Cameo Locket, Goodwill $3. The Goodwill
in South Attleboro at one time had a great jewelry
counter, alas no more. This was a real gem, and I think I
got a real steal on it, obviously not shell but
its definitely carved.

Clip On earrings, yard sale $.0.50, these aren't
really cameos but rather coins with
Queen Elizabeth II on them,
but are definitely in the cameo style.
Bracelet Anthropologie $9, I'm also a real sucker for anything
monogramed and had admired these bracelets priced around $50, but wasn't willing to spend that, then after Christmas I found this one on sale. Most people assume its a design rather than a letter.

Purse, Forever 2, $7-8. I feel in love with this little clutch a few years
ago and it definately was ahead of the times both with the cameos
and the chandelier and bird motifs which are everywhere in design
these days.


vintage Whiting and Davis (most famous for
 their metal mesh purses, and a local company
based out of North Attleboro, MA)
This is silver set in enamel with a gold
 plate edging and back. A gift.
vintage Shell  cameo brooch originally
set in silver (inner rim) reset in metal,
Twice the Diva, $15.  An interesting subject,
the muse of music perhaps with her harp.
The graduated coloring is fairly common in
shell cameos, carvers had to deal with the
medium regardless of variations
 or imperfections. At least 110 years old.


Glass carving on a mercury mirror background set
in metal, the Big Flea (flea market), $30. One of
the more unusual cameos I've ever seen and
probably my favorite of my collection, the details
is really exquisite and very modern
Sterling silver brooch Roman centurion,
unusual in its male subject.
Pastimes Consignemnts, $4.

Glass cameo brooch set in pressed metal, Pastimes Consignments, $6.
Another of my favorites because of its unusual setting, shape, and the Art Nouveau design.
Also the figure is hte same as the pink bracelet with one flower on
the left, three on the right and short hair with a bow.

Wrentham Antiques Market Place (bought at the closing sale)
 $10. Green glass intaglio in metal.
This is the only true intaglio I own, but the setting is beautiful and
ornate, you also don't often see cheaper versions of any type of
green cameos.

Clip on earrings, painted image with faux pearls set in metal, Pastimes Consignments, $6. These miniature portraits are obviously painted not carved, but the image, an oval portrait of a woman is definitely what we today think of as a cameo portrait.

Plastic portrait on copper ring, Forever 21 $2.10. I actually found this ring in two pieces at Forever 21, the picture part had separate from the metal and they sold it to me for 75% off and I glued it back together. Another example of a cameo style portrait of a young woman.

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