My favourite decorative technique used by the early compact manufacturers is foiling. This is the use of silver or other high-shine metal foils to coat the under side of translucent materials. When mounted under glass this gives a jewel-like glow to the material. It's particularly effective in the faux 'butterfly wing' compacts made by companies like Gwenda and Coty in the 1930s.
I wanted to reproduce a jewelled effect like this in my own designs so began experimenting with foiling techniques. I sandwich materials under tempered glass with resin - and use different foils and textures to silver the underside. My favourite material so far is 1950s kimono silk I imported from a Japanese antique dealer. The resin penetrates into the silk and its weave - bonding the delicate fabric to the foil to produce a sparkling surface. The silk and foil glows under the light.
The vintage kimono silk is hand-printed. This makes each foiled piece slightly different. I love how modern the design, called 'Plum blossom', still seems. It feels right to frame such beautiful craftmanship under glass - like a framed museum piece .
I've made ten foiled silk compacts using simple, silver-plated mirrors. Each is a limited edition as once my piece of vintage silk runs out it can't be replaced. My next experiments will be with antique laces and celluloids, just like Gwenda used in the thirties, so I'll post more pictures soon!