Making a Leather Purse With a Brass Frame – pt 4

The support rod was made from a piece of ¼ inch round brass rod. I used a file to reduce the diameter of the rod on each end until it was small enough to fit into the holes in the stretchers. The stretchers were then slipped in place and finials were soldered onto the ends of the support rod with silver solder. The finials were made from 3/8 inch round brass rod. I used a file to shape the rod, marked the center of the rod with a center punch, and then drilled a hole in the center of the rod to accommodate the support rod.

The loops for the leather support straps were made from 3/16 inch brass welding rod. They were bent with pliers, cut with a wire cutter, smoothed and shaped with a file and then soldered to the purse support bar with silver solder. The contact points on the bar and the welding rod were flattened somewhat to allow for a greater area of contact for soldering. The welding rod was hammered and then filed, and the support rod was filed.

The purse lid required some sort of stiffening material. I chose the best piece of clear birch that I could find. I resawed it with a handsaw to make it as thin as possible and then continued the thinning process with a rasp, chisel, wood plane and cabinet scraper. I then cut the board to the proper shape and glued leather to the board. The board was then riveted to the top of the purse frame. I used a longer rivet in the center front of the purse to act as a loop for the clasp.

The roundel on the purse lid uses a design from the St. Matthew page of the Book of Kells. I etched the design into the copper round, using ferric chloride. In period they would have engraved the design, but I haven’t learned to do that yet. I chose to use red enamel for the majority of the design because it was used commonly in early Celtic enameling and was generally considered to be a high status color. [1]  White is a very stable enamel and was used extensively in ancient enamels. The enamels were placed into the etched areas and fired in a kiln. This process was repeated several times until the enamel reached the same height as the surface of the metal. At that point the enamel was ground down by hand using wet and dry sandpaper until a smooth surface was achieved.

[1] Stapleton, p. 913