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 …
My absolute favourite show, hands down, at the moment is Outlander. You could say I’m a little obsessed with it. For those who haven’t had the chance to see it yet, it’s a romantic, action, adventure series set largely in 18th Century Scotland, right before the Scots rise under the banner of Bonnie Prince Charlie in their final futile attempt to seize control of the British throne. It’s based on a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, which are being made into a series by Ron D Moore (whose credits include Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, as well as Battlestar Galactica). The summary from Starz says:
Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
The story is not just a romance, although the developing relationship between Claire and Jamie plays a big part. There are political machinations, accusations of witchcraft, and the looming threat of Black Jack Randall, an English soldier who is the ancestor of Claire’s 20th century husband Frank. The end of season one is truly not for the faint-hearted, and I’m going to be waiting with baited breath for season two to air.
There is a lot to inspire in Outlander. The sweeping vistas of the Scottish Highlands for one. The divine costumes for another. And of course the story itself. I created three pieces inspired by the show, each drawing from different aspects.
My first piece is inspired by the Scottish landscape. One of the key locations in both the book and the TV show is Jamie Fraser’s home Lallybroch. In real life, the derelict Midhope Castle near Edinburgh was used for Lallybroch exteriors.
UK bead artist Natalie McKenna has a series of ceramic pendants inspired by Scottish landscapes. When I saw this one, I immediately thought of Lallybroch. In this piece I’ve tried to invoke the gorgeous vistas of the Scottish Highlands, the blues and greys of the sky, the browns and greens of the landscape. I’ve kept it simple, choosing beads that complement the focal, rather than compete with it, including some more beads by Natalie.
My second piece was inspired by the incredible wedding dress created by Outlander costume designer Terry Dresbach. Silvery linen is pleated and tucked into a full, lush shape, and flakes of mica give the underskirts a wonderful shimmer as they catch the light. The final flourish is a scattering of acorns and oak leaves embroidered with metal thread across the skirt and bodice:
If you’re interested, Terry Dresbach has posted close-ups of the dress details on her blog here.
I’ve used the embroidered oak leaves and acorns as inspiration for this necklace. The silver-plated stampings I’ve used look a lot like the embroidered leaves. Through the chain of the necklace, I have woven some grey-green sari silk.
My final Outlander piece was inspired by a line uttered by Jamie Fraser to his wife Claire. “You are my home now,” he tells her in a moment guaranteed to send hearts aflutter! When I came across a word bead by Swoondimples that says almost exactly that, I had to have it. A house to dangle from it from BoHulley Beads. Red hearts for Jamie and Claire’s love, and some blue flowers to represent the Forget-me-knots that Claire picked right before she fell through the stones and into the past. The clasp is a dragonfly, a nod to book two in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber (currently in production for season two).
So that’s Outlander. But wait, there’s more. A few weeks ago, when I did Heather Powers’ Game of Thrones challenge, I promised that I had another piece in the works, just waiting for some beads to arrive. This is a necklace inspired by another wedding dress, in this case Margaery Tyrell’s dress for the wedding to Joffrey Lannister. The Tyrell symbol is the rose, and her dress had an intricate train decorated with fabric roses, and beautiful embroidery of thorny vines and flowers across the bodice.
Leah Curtis from Beady-Eyed Bunny makes polymer clay roses in just the right shape. I wanted to evoke the cascade of roses on the train, and I included some red roses too, just for fun. Silvery thorns peek out between the blooms and red droplets remind one of the hidden dangers of the rose. Quite fitting perhaps as Margaery’s new husband died at the wedding, although not necessarily by her hand.
So that’s it from me, thank you for reading this far and if you haven’t seen (or read) Outlander, give it a go! I’m looking forward to seeing what other designers have been inspired by their favourite shows to make. Here’s a list of the participants, thank you all for playing along!
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!
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;
architect Hector Guimard who designed the Paris Metro entrances;
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.
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!