Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making a Portrait Miniature

In the 18th century, portrait miniatures were a way of capturing the image of a loved one. Painted with watercolor on ivory, they were tiny masterpieces often worn as jewelry. While I could have taken the time to paint a portrait for my miniature, I wanted a faster method.

I scoured ebay and etsy until I found an antique gold miniature ring to use for my reproduction. This original is a circle of gold with a screw mechanism at the top that unfastens so that the ring can be splayed and the miniature inserted.

Using google images search function, I located an image of an original 18th century portrait miniature that contained the portrait of a young many whose portrait looked remarkably like my husband, Vince. I printed this image out on nice white paper - it took me a couple tries to get the right size for my miniature.


Thin cardboard from the back of a tablet was cut into strips and Mod Podge was used to attach the strips together, making a thick enough chunk to match the width of the miniature case.

The printed image was pasted to the cardboard using Mod Podge, and a layer of Mod Podge was carefully spread over the image. This looks white when wet, but when dry it will be clear. Allow to dry 15 minutes.


Using a pair of heavy duty scissors, cut around the image, cutting through all layers of cardboard. This is the tricky part. You can try tracing the size of the miniature holder onto the image, but you'll still probably have to keep shaving down the sides of the portrait until it fits perfectly inside the ring.

To color the back of the cardboard - which would be seen if the portrait miniature was flipped while wearing, I used a black sharpie. I also colored the sides in case they were seen somehow.

The portrait was inserted into the ring and the top screwed back on. Finished! This process probably took me less than 30 minutes.

(Didn't want to photograph as well as it looks in person)

I added a vintage black silk velvet ribbon to it to tie around my neck.

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  1. I love finding historical portraits that look like my modern-day friends. These would make a great gifts for a get-together! Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. How wonderful!! Thank you for the tutorial!