#MuseumWeek #SecretsMW Few people know more of the secrets in our collection than our conservator Ada Hopkins. Think you know what's happening with these beautiful jewelled heels? Well, here's a little #behindthescenes info from our conservation lab!
Cellulose nitrate (CN) or celluloid was discovered in the 1860s and utilized as a replacement for imitation ivory billiard balls. As a material incorporated into the shoe manufacturing industry it really hit its stride with fashionable heels in the 1920s. In the 20s/30s heels were made of stacked leather or wood. For fancy heels, a sheet of CN was heated then wrapped around the heel form, left to shrink to its shape as it cooled. Sometimes to make it even more elaborate, paste rhinestones, of varying colours of glass, were embedded into the covered heel before it was attached to the shoe. The result can look like this - a pair of heels that gives the impression of being decorated with diamonds and emeralds.
Some heels were fully encrusted with rhinestones while others sported elegant Art Deco designs in enamel; both added sparkle as women kicked up their heels.
Black satin high heel made by Bally.