My first introduction to seeing a purse frame in person occurred a very long time ago on a trip to England. I was wandering around the Victoria and Albert Museum when I discovered a display in the Bronze Department of a purse frame with Niello inlay. Niello is a decorative metal working technique that is used to create contrast on metal surfaces (for more information read this blog).
The purse frame was not complete, and I admit that I only had a vague concept as to how it worked, but I remembered the little metal frame coin purses that were popular when I was a little kid, and I knew that it had to be similar. A few months later I was in the midst of the year long Arts and Sciences Competition in the West Kingdom, known as the Golden Poppy. I wanted to make a purse with a frame, and I knew about the purse lid from the Sutton Hoo. I really wanted to do something Viking, but I couldn’t find anything like this, so I settled for Anglo Saxon. The fact that I even looked for something like this from the Vikings really shows how little I understood about Viking technology and working styles, but that is another blog.
So, based on what I knew about the purse frame that I saw in England, purse frames that I was able to find in books, and the Sutton Hoo Purse Lid, I made a purse.
If you are interested in the original detailed documentation here are the links to read it. It includes all of the steps, why I did what I did, and the bibliography.
If you are interested in understanding the basic process of enameling, which I used to decorate the disk on the lid of the purse, here is a blog explaining the process.
Next time: Understanding the basics of a frame purse