Last year I was in Cass Art buying art supplies. Mainly stuff like sketchbooks and charcoal, but then I stumbled across a stack of felt in the kids’ section. Now, I did not especially need a sheet of kids’ felt, but of habit, I scanned for a black one. I always scan for black items in shops. Usually without thinking about it. And sure enough, I found one. Should I buy it? I thought. What could I do with a piece of black felt?
That was when I remembered an idea I’d had a while back: making my own Georgian-inspired face patches. I reckon the reason I hadn’t implemented this idea before was because it was so silly – but now I had a sheet of black felt in front of me. So why not?
The first time I heard about Georgian face patches was from reading a Horrible Histories book when I was younger. (I actually still like Horrible Histories. Shhh.) Apparently the patches started off as a way of covering up blemishes on the skin, but then became fashionable. People made these “beauty spots” in different shapes – circles, stars, crescents, hearts etc. From what I’ve read online, it seems that the wealthier folks made them out of velvet or silk, while poorer ones used mouse skin. I’ve also found quite a few articles saying that people used the patches to convey different messages depending on where they were on the face. For example, by the corner of the eye meant passionate – and there were various other places that would dictate your relationship status. It also seems that there were different interpretations of these messages, which makes things rather confusing
My main obstacle in making my own face patches (apart from not wanting to look like a complete idiot) was finding a way of securing them onto the face. I considered using regular PVA, but then thought, better than that, it would be worth using this as an opportunity to research how to make my own body glue. I’d long wondered whether it was possible to make body glue at home, and if so, how! So I looked it up. Many sources suggested corn syrup, but the thing is, corn syrup isn’t as popular in the UK as it is in America. I didn’t have any at home, and there was no way I was trudging to the shops, or America, to find some.
(This actually triggered a dream I had a few nights ago, in which I was at a tiny Eastern European shop far from my home, and I found a row of big bottles of corn syrup. They looked like salt bottles. They had red lids. I didn’t want to buy such large containers though, because I only needed enough to glue some tiny patches to my face. So I looked down and immediately saw some mini bottles of corn syrup on the shelf just below. How convenient! Everything in the dream looked like it had been filmed through a slightly yellow or sepia filter.)
I found a couple of recipes that suggested mixing water, sugar, flour and salt together. I ignored the slightly more complex instructions with cooking times, and simply combined a teaspoon of flour, a teaspoon of water, a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan – and simmered till gluey. This was probably the tiniest amount of glue anyone would consider making. It barely covered the bottom of the pot. But I didn’t want to make more because then I’d have to store it, and I only needed a little bit anyway. However, if you make a similar concoction with more and you’d like to keep it for longer, I’d suggest adding a couple of drops of Tea Tree oil or some vinegar to keep it clear of bacteria.
I had to re-heat the glue with some extra water a couple of times, because I left it too long and it hardened. Part of the reason I left it is because my neighbor popped round and I was chatting with her. I swear, sometimes she just comes here when she’s bored!
It took me surprisingly long to cut out the shapes.
I dabbed a smidgen of glue on the backs of the patches, and then patted them onto my face. A little on the silly side, and very fun!
I’d say the more you put on, the more foolishly fun the effect. I definitely got quite a few stares when I wore the “sun” patch on the tube.
Of course, you can get a similar effect for these face patches if you use any normal black fabric; it doesn’t have to be felt. You can even try it with eyeliner, or a pen or marker. Just use your common sense, and don’t blame me if you mess up! Have fun, and tell me how it goes : )