I made this shrine for Richard Armitage fan JHolland, who presented me not long ago with a stunning Voynich-themed quilt. This is the magic of fandom, my friends! And in this very special case, the magic works even though our Objects of Interest are different.
How to reciprocate, when my crafting skills are limited to jewelry? I have always loved talismanic jewelry, devotional folk art, and miniatures, so when I learned about floating lockets, I finally had my answer.
If you’re not familiar with floating lockets, they are glass and metal lockets of varying sizes (usually 20-30 millimeters in diameter), which contain tiny interchangeable charms. The locket is secured either by twisting the top and bottom parts together, or more commonly, with a hinge and two magnets. It is surprisingly difficult to find these lockets in precious metals such as gold or sterling silver. I think there are two reasons for this. First, sterling and gold are not strong enough to withstand the constant opening and closing of the locket, and second, they are so large and weighty that the price point would keep them out of reach for most people.
Instead, many of these lockets are almost ridiculously inexpensive, but it is best to stick with stainless steel. Some of the really cheap ones are alloys with nickel, which can irritate the skin. Since JHolland is a veterinarian, I thought she would be able to appreciate a piece of jewelry made of good, honest stainless steel. (Okay, so maybe it isn’t surgical grade…) It does not tarnish, as silver does. And after handling it a while, I became quite taken with the nice substantial feel of the locket and its smooth finish.
Most of the floating locket business is devoted to selling pre-made charms that “float” inside the locket. But it’s much more fun to make your own charms and use found objects.
For the idea of a locket shrine, I was of course inspired by Guylty’s wonderful shrines fashioned from mint tins, including miniature tins. Looking for jewelry-based ideas, I did not find as many fandom lockets online as I expected. There are some Harry Potter lockets, a Doctor Who locket, and a few others, including a pleasing “Sherlocket.”
One great way to personalize the lockets is photo charms, and there are several companies which sell supplies for this. The one I used is Photo Jewelry. They provide the all-important (but inexpensive) software necessary to shrink down your pictures to the minuscule size required for the charms.
The Richard Armitage locket is designed to be worn a number of different ways, according to the owner’s fancy. The full set includes four photo charms, three “treasures,” two locket plates, and a micro-miniature copy of The Hobbit.
In “Thorin mode” the shrine is worn with the book open to show Thorin’s photo. The three “treasures” represent Smaug’s hoard and include:
- Arkenstone. This is a crystal faceted bead. The locket cannot accommodate a spherical bead, so it is a flattened shape.
- Filigree gold piece. (This is actually a piece from a gold-plated necklace clasp).
- Real peridot gemstone. This is a faceted, pear-shaped bead. I chose it because it is Richard’s birthstone.
You can buy various types of plates to fit inside the lockets. These are useful if you don’t want your clothing color to show through, or if you want larger images. For “Crucible mode,” I used a pre-made plate from Photo Jewelry and added a cropped photo from Richard’s Crucible poster. The disadvantage of this type of plate is that it fills up the locket, so you can’t add any charms.
You can also buy engraved metal plates which are designed to be used with charms, but I made my own using two layers of photo paper. It’s rigid enough to insert and remove from the locket if handled carefully. The front of the plate is a screenshot of the word cloud from JHolland’s blog (prominently featuring the name Richard Armitage, of course). I used the same design to finish the back of the Crucible plate.
The other side of the word cloud plate features a lovely stage door photo of JHolland with Richard Armitage. It is designed so that when she wears it, the SD photo faces in, toward the heart. On bad days, she can pick it up and have a quick peek at it, for encouragement!
Now, a word about the photo charms. If you want to try making your own, be advised that they are tricky. Even though the “family photo” charms in the picture above look great, it is very difficult to find pictures that work at a scale of 8.5mm. If there’s a lot of detail, you simply can’t see what they are except with a magnifying glass. The square photo charms are better because they give you more options and have a larger total space. But… they take up more space inside the locket. If you want to wear three photo charms at once, it has to be one square and two round, or three round charms.
The photo charms include (counterclockwise from right):
- Square charm with cropped, “iconic” image of Richard. This was inspired by a recent post in which J. “posterized” a photo of him, with a little help from Guylty.
- Eye charm. This is a favorite of mine for “talismanic” effect. Eye miniatures were popular in Victorian times, and I have written about them here and here. I had to test a great number of Richardian eyes before I found just the right one!
- The frontal photo of Richard is one I found online (sorry, I am unable to credit the photographers on these) and used because it worked well with the tiny charm format. I also thought it was a really stunning picture of him.
- The dark Crucible charm is probably the least successful one, but the clear plastic dome on the charm distorts it a little. I wanted a darker color to balance the three pink/skin toned charms.
I hope that J. enjoys wearing this locket as much as I enjoyed designing it. And in case you’re wondering where the Ciarán Hinds locket is, believe me, I’m planning it as you read this…