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This shoot had technically been in progress for several months as I began collecting & creating individual elements long before the concept became cohesive and I decided it was ready to bring to life. It started from both the ideas of wanting to make some decadently regal costume accessories based on the Hiddensee Treasure Mjolnir necklace wanting and wanting to challenge myself to create an elegant ‘chamber’ photo set in my home.
This shoot also coincided with some recent upgrades to my self-shooting setup which have drastically improved and relaxed my shooting process for self-portraiture.
These upgrades include shooting with an Intervalometer shutter remote, 7in HDMI external camera display, and finally making the switch from studio flashes to continuous light sources; namely the NanLite Pavo Tubes & Godox ML60 & SL150WII. I also replaced my basic Sony 50mm 1.8 FE lens with the new Sony 50mm 1.2 GM lens which provided a MAJOR improvement in the eye-autofocus and overall image clarity from my Sony a7riii.
While none of these tools are necessary for shooting self-portraiture; but dang do they help! It took me several years to make so many investments for my own ease & comfort while shooting, and now that I have I wish I had bitten the bullet so much sooner. Especially as these investments will ultimately translate to a higher rate of content production at a consistently higher quality than before.
However, the bitter flip-side now is I still have some collections shot previously to integrating these tools which I now worry won’t live up to this “Jarls Chamber” and other future shoots. Oopsy.
I’m well aware the historical reenactment folks will dislike my design here as it blatantly isn’t traditional Nordic; but as always, my work is ‘Fantasy’ and not intended for historical accuracy.
I made these bead chains from a combination of metal, stone, and glass beads; most of which I found on AliExpress.
Hear me out: Yes, AliExpress does tend to be a bit like ‘Wish’ where sellers may be hocking knockoff’s of small designers or luxury brand goods with stolen photos — If you are looking for plain olde bulk crafting materials you are having trouble finding locally, It can be a really solid resource. Just don’t buy some dress you saw for $200 on Instagram for a unbelievable fraction of the price on AliExpress and expect to be pleased with what shows up.
The site can be a bit overwhelming to navigate, so below are some of the specific beads & sellers I used.
It took me ages to figure out exactly what this piece was actually called.
I saw several reenactors and premade bead-chains with similar chain spreaders, but it was a fair amount of searching online before I came across the name “Chatelaine’s”.
Once I had an actual name of what to search for, I was able to fins this lovely set on Etsy which felt proportionate to the Turtle brooches I had already found.
These brooches also took me some time to locate.
I had previously ordered very small & cheap ones on AliExpress that just felt disproportionate to how elaborate I wanted to make the bead chains; yet I also did not want the massive ones I commonly see offered on Grimfrost.
It was on a recommendation from a friend, Dea.Hariasa on Instagram, that I found the seller Raymond’s Quiet Press which offered some more reasonably sized & priced brooches.
The quality is solid with very strong holding pins. They really worked out perfectly
The crown was constructed with the plan of being integrated into a fairly elaborate up-do.
First, I took several Hiddensee Mjolnir pendants and glued garnet beads into the openings along the front of the hammers to create the illusion of very ornate jeweled pieces. These were then strung along a wire with some other round Norse inspired beads and Decorative Spacers.
I then glued the wire of Hiddensee beads along the top edge. Below that, I also glued a synthetic braided hair headband to create the illusion that the crown was braided into the hair.
For the necklace, I used the same Garnet embellished Hiddensee Mjolnir pendants made for the crown and separated each by a larger garnet bead along with additional decorative chains to hang between each section.
The goal was to evoke the same feeling of the Hiddensee treasure necklace, Commonly reproduced by reenactors, but still have the final creation be something new & entirely my own.
For earrings, I wanted something that would still match the elaborate necklace & crown, but would not be so large. So I made these smaller chain spreader style beads, found during my Chatelaine search, the base of the earrings, and then used decorative head pins to dangle a small garnet bead from each loop.
Heads up! Any time you want to loop headpins or wire to in jewelry making, it really helps to use Looper Pliers to keep everything uniform!
Originally I had planned to make a belt out of the same Norse themed trim used on the undergarments for this look; however this idea just didn’t look as good in practice.
This belt was something I already owned, found on Poshmark, and realized it was a good fit for the costume…. about 10 minutes prior to shooting.
I originally found Calvina Costumes Viking dresses on Amazon while looking for basic & more affordable options while shooting my first Viking Dress collection “Viking Maiden“. During that shoot I used a green cotton canvas tunic dress & wool apron and for this shoot, I used their wool-blend dress in red.
White traditional Viking dresses tend to be very simple in cut, they do also tend to be fairly expensive novelty garments; so it was really nice to find a more affordable option that in reality was still good quality and flattering.
My only gripe with this dress was the very small neck opening; which in reality is more a feature of most traditional-style Viking dresses than any actual flaw in the garment itself. I personally do not like high necklines that fall at or above the collar bones; however I also realized immediately before shooting that this was an issue beyond my personal style preferences.
I actually could not fit my elaborate hairdo through the opening without wrecking either the hair or cutting the dress. Ultimately I cut about a 6-in slit down from the neck hem in the back of the dress. This ended up working wonderfully as it also gave the dress a much more comfortable fit around the neck & chest and allowed for the inclusion of some “off shoulder” looks during the photoshoot.
I may eventually hem the edges of the cut and add laces for customizable closure & fit.
This was another garment I already had on hand prior to organizing this costume. In reality, have had this cloak since my teenage days; originally finding it in a local consignment store. The tag says the brand is Von Lancelot; there does not seem to be a current website.
The cloak has a lightly floral textured velvet outer shell, silky lining, and a fur trim.
I knew I wanted to include a cloak in this costume as the brooches could be used to hold it in place as an alternative to using the brooches for an Viking style apron, which I did not want to include in this look. Already having a perfect match on hand was a matter of good luck.
A huge question in all of my fantasy shoot is always “what the heck to I use for underwear?!?”.
While the “all natural commando” approach is always appreciated, I wanted this shoot to be very elaborate and full of intricate layers.
To avoid looking too “modern lingerie” I started with this very basic red bikini set which I customized by sewing on some decorative Norse Dragon trim from Celtic Trims & braiding the straps with some t-shirt yarn.
I am a sucker for tall warm socks. One, because I am always freezing and second, because if I wear tall socks in a shoot I don’t have to shave my legs.
These ones are a nice chunky knit and are definitely great for everyday use as well.