Blog Hops and Challenges

History Hop: Paleolithic Style

History Hop Paleo

If you’re looking for the ABS Ornament blog hop post it’s here.

I’m a day or so late with this hop, it’s such a crazy time of year here. But, in the end I managed to get my piece done and photographed for Leah Curtis’s History Hop: Paleolithic Style.

The Paleolithic Era, the earliest and biggest part of the Stone Age, covers the period from when prehuman species first started to use stone tools until about 10,000 years ago when humans started to develop the beginnings of agriculture. Along with the development and use of tools, fire and more, Paleolithic humans started to develop art, such as rock paintings and stone carvings.

So the challenge in this hop is to create a piece inspired by Paleolithic art. I decided to use a small pendant by ceramic artist Beadfreaky, who is clearly very influenced by Paleolithic art. My pendant features a paleo-style deer against a white background. I combined it with small African bone beads and small round beads that were sold to me as “citrine chrysoprase”, which on investigation is more commonly known as lemon chrysoprase. The beads are on natural leather cord.


Thank you Leah for another interesting blog hop, I look forward to your next History hop inspiration! And sorry for being late to the party.  Now I need to go and see what the rest of the participants have made. If you’d like to take a look, the links are below …

Leah Curtis (hostess) – Beady Eyed Bunny
Shaiha’s Ramblings
Julia Hay – Pandanimal
Rachel Mallis – Mint Monarch
Beadrecipes <– YOU ARE HERE
Robin Reed – Artistry HCBD
Joanne Tinks
YeeLen Spirit Designs
Karin G. – Gingko et Coquelicot
Dini Bruinsma
Deborah Apodaca
Tapping Flamingo

Facebook Participants:
Laura Bailey Taskey
Album for Facebook participants found in Bead Soup Cafe

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Victorian Charms — The History Hop 2


It’s time for the second History Hop, hosted by Leah Curtis. I did this hop last year, creating a necklace and earrings inspired by the Art Nouveau movement. This time around, I’ve focused on Victorian jewellery—specifically English Romanticism and mourning jewellery.

The Victorian era spanned the long reign of Queen Victoria, who ascended the throne in 1837 and died in 1901. Queen Victoria, who was only 18 when she inherited the throne, loved jewellery, and her tastes in jewellery and fashion influenced the world!

Victorian jewellery is classified into three periods: the Romantic period or English Romanticism, which spanned 1837-1860, the Grand Period from 1860-1885, and the Aesthetic Period from 1885-1901. English Romantic jewellery featured stylised and symbolic themes from nature, including flowers, leaves, grapes, and berries, as well as motifs such as snakes, birds and insects. Gold was the prominent metal, but due to its scarcity at the time—the US and Australian gold rushes didn’t happen until the mid-1800s—filigree and other light forms such as chasing and repousse were popular. Gemstones and natural materials including tortoise shell, lava, jet, agate, bog oak, ivory and coral were frequently used. Jewellery was largely still handcrafted during this period.

The increase in English tourism to destinations throughout Europe made jewellery a frequent souvenir, with cameos from Pompei, micro-mosaics from Rome, enamelled plaques from Switzerland and more coming back to England. Cameos had been around since Roman times, and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the Victorian era, in materials including shell, coral, onyx, carnelian and agate.

Brooches, bracelets and rings were the most popular jewellery forms, in part due to the high necklines and bonnets of daytime fashions. Necklaces tended to be worn close to the neck and ranged from simple chokers, ribbons and chains displaying a pendant or locket to elaborate designs incorporating gemstones and more. Queen Victoria also loved charm bracelets, and would often give her family members charms as gifts.

Mourning jewellery was also prevalent during Victorian times, although it had been around for a few centuries. Hair jewellery was very prevalent, with elaborate woven pieces of jewellery made from human hair, as well as simple lockets holding small locks of hair from deceased loved ones. But mourning jewellery really came to the fore after Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Prince Albert died in 1861. The bereaved queen entered a long period of full mourning, with strict protocols requiring both black dress and black jewellery, utilising dark gems and materials including jet and onyx, black enamel and black glass.

So, after reading as much as I could find about English Romanticism and mourning jewellery I decided to create two pieces inspired by the era, a cameo necklace and a charm bracelet in a dark gothic style inspired by mourning jewellery.

I found it difficult to find images of cameo jewellery specifically from the Victorian era—plenty of cameos, but mostly on fairly simple chains. Most of the pictures I found came from the mid-20th century revival of Victorian style jewellery and later. My version has a green and white cameo on an antique brass frame, with some  brass connectors.  Although probably not particularly authentic, I used freshwater pearls and some faceted Czech crystal to highlight the green background of the cameo.


The gorgeously gothic dark tones of Fallen Angel Brass inspired the mourning charm bracelet. I used a lovely heavy chain for the bracelet, and dangled a series of charms from it including hearts, flowers, an acorn, a tiny hinged book of love, a dragonfly, a lock and key, a swallow, interspersed with black and smoky grey crystals set into pronged settings, dark grey pearls, black Czech crystals and even a few tiny garnet red Swarovski crystals. I did plan to include some fabulous black intaglios (reverse cameos with the image carved into the glass) set into an ornate frame, but I ran into problems getting the glass to stay glued in the frame, and decided to save that for another day.


Now that you’ve seen what inspired me, please take some time to look at the creations of the other blog hop participants. There is a wonderful range of time periods and places represented amongst them!

Leah Curtis – Indus Valley – <– Our Hostess!
Laney Mead – Māori –
Becca – Art Nouveau –
Melissa – English Romanticism and Mourning Jewellery – <– You are Here!
Tracy Stillman – Native American –

Gerda – English Romanticism and Mourning Jewellery –
Liz E – Native North American –
Ahowin – Māori (New Zealand)  – 
Jasvanti – Indus Valley –
Lizzie – Art Nouveau –

Julia Hay – Merovingian –
Dini – Celtic –
Caroline – Art Nouveau – 
Charlie – Moche of Peru –
Karin – China –

Niky Sayers – Rome –
Marcia Dunne – Celtic and Mourning Jewellery –
anafiassa – Mesopotamia –
Kokopelli – Native American –
Christa – Native American –

Clair – Roman –
Susan Bowie – Native American –
Gloria Allen – English Romanticism –
Sheila Garrett – Early Russia –


The Waterlily Maiden necklace — The History Hop

I couldn’t resist joining in Leah Curtis’s History Hop, which reveals today! Leah picked 14 periods from history to inspire jewellery design, and I have to say, it was hard to choose! In the end, I went with Art Nouveau, the artistic and architectural movement that flourished as the 19th century passed into the 20th.

Art Nouveau got its start in France in the last couple of decades of the 19th century, during a period of growth and prosperity later named “La Belle Époque” by the French. It was both a philosophy and a movement of art, architecture, and decorative arts that was characterised by the use of flowing organic forms drawing inspiration from nature, fantasy and the female form. Artists associated with Art Nouveau include the Czech artist Alphonse Maria Mucha, whose poster of opera singer Sarah Bernhardt epitomises the graphic design of the period;

photo credit: grumlinas via photopin cc

architect Hector Guimard who designed the Paris Metro entrances;

photo credit: stevecadman via photopin cc

and Emile Gallé, who created carved and etched glass from his factory in the French town of Nancy. Other artists and architects strongly influenced by Art Nouveau include Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, René Lalique, Antoni Gaudí and Louis Comfort Tiffany (source: Wikipedia).

Typically, Art Nouveau jewellery used motifs from nature such as dragonflies and waterlilies. There was a strong Japanese influence, especially in Lalique’s work.The stones tended to be more natural, semi-precious gems including opals as well as organically shaped pearls, rather than precious gems like diamonds and rubies. Silver and gold were popular metals, which surprised me a bit as many of theArt Nouveau stampings available these days from companies such as Vintaj and Trinity are brass. Brooches were very popular, such as the eponymous Lalique dragonfly, and many necklaces were relatively simple — a decorative pendant on a fine chain.

Dragonfly Woman Corsage Ornament
by Rene Laliquephoto credit: sprklg via photopin cc 

One of the characteristics of Art Nouveau jewellery was the use of enamel. Several different enamel techniques were popular including cloisonné, champlevé and plique à jour. In my design I have paid tribute to these techniques by highlighting some of the details with Vintaj patina inks on the brass stamping I used as my focal pendant.

The necklace I made is called The Waterlily Maiden, for the brass stamping focal pendant. I used Vintaj patinas in Ruby and Opalite mixed with a bit of the glaze extender to thin it to give the waterlilies some colour, and a blend of Jade and Moss patinas for the leaves. The maiden was left uncoloured and a wash of diluted cobalt across the background hints at water. A coat of glaze over the top has given it a subtle sheen. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out — the flowers could be a little neater but it’s a pretty good first attempt. The stamping itself came from the Vintaj Salvage Etsy shop, which is a destash shop for the Vintaj company, and is full of fabulous treasures.

Rather than just stringing the pendant on a plain chain, I attached it to another stamping, and then linked it to brass peanut chain interspersed with faceted nuggets of very pale, almost colourless, translucent amethyst, green fluorite and rose quartz, with a small Art Nouveau-style connector between two of the green fluorite stones.

Please take some time to visit the other participants of the History Hop!

Ahowin – Art Nouveau
Alicia Marinache – Victorian
Becca’s Place – Renaissance
Beti Horvath – Ancient Egypt and Art Deco
Cherry Obsidia – Ancient Mecynae Greece
Jennifer Davies-Reazor – Medieval
Kathleen Douglas – Indus Valley
Kashmira Patel – Etruscan
Lady Grey – Victorian
Laney Mead – Pre-Columbian
Leah Curtis – Ancient Roman
LiliKrist – Persia
Melissa – Mesopotamian
>>Melissa Trudinger – Art Nouveau ME!!!!<<
Micheladas Musings – Ancient Romans
Sandra Wollberg – Art Nouveau
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson – Art Deco
Tracy Stillman – Victorian
And make sure you come back on Tuesday for the Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap!