Purses Part 2 My First Attempt at a Purse With a Frame

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.

Frame Purse Lid

I wrote a blog to give detailed photographic views of the purse. Here is the first part, and here is the second part.

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.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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

Making a Leather Purse With a Brass Frame – pt 1

Leather Purse with Brass Frame

History and Materials

My goal was to produce a decorative Viking-style leather purse, with a brass frame, that might have been purchased or stolen by a Viking. The general form of this purse is based on many sources. The use of a metal frame to support the fabric or leather of a purse is common from at least the Sutton Hoo burial (Anglo Saxon 600-900AD) through modern times. I have personally viewed several metal purse frames in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of London, mostly from the 14th and 15th centuries.  The general form that I based my purse frame on is a bar with stretchers attached so that they are freely hinged. The purse frames usually have some sort of metal attachment which allows them to be suspended from a chain, strap or chord. I chose to make two metal loops, through which leather straps can be fastened as my method of suspension. The use of leather straps to support a purse is seen in the Sutton Hoo purse and several purses in the Museum of London book – “Dress Accessories”.  This type of purse is fairly common in tapestries.

Stay tuned – there’s more on this topic coming!