The spiral design has fascinated me for many years and I seem to come across it all the time… from the artwork of our ancient civilizations, to the modern-day artists, such as Klimt and it can be found all around us in nature and the cosmos too. It feels quite special!
Whatever its real meaning when I make my spiral shapes using copper wire its very relaxing and therapeutic, whether it’s from working with copper which has many magical and healing properties or it comes from creating the spiral shape, or its a combination of both. I can feel a lovely energy from it and when I first started working at my studio, I occasionally saw a white light emanating from my hands whilst making spirals and other shapes. I still see this white or colourful aura of vibrating energy, now it’s mostly when I’m outside in the sunlight doing my mini eye meditations, rather than when I’m working indoors. Whenever I see them though it always feels pretty magical…
My new spiral designs, well they aren’t really ‘new’ as I began making these spiral glass pieces a few years ago, but just wasn’t quite happy with them, so put the design to one side. An idea of how to fix the design came to me during one of my dreams. Many ideas, designs, or even words and sentences (I struggle with my writing) come to me when I am in the space between awake and sleep. I see the answer to problems or visualise the completed design, often I will wake myself up to write it down or sketch them.
When I began working on these ‘new’ spiral designs again in Spring 2018 I made only slow progress for 6 months due to my eyesight problems and a finger infection. But by trial and error, I learnt how best to make / glue them (they’re pretty fiddly) and gave myself a pair to wear to test them out. I loved that a friend at the studio saw me wearing them and asked me to make her a pair too!
They are quite bewitching beautiful and sparkly!
By November, I had finished a small selection in different colours and shapes ready in time for my Christmas events. It was really rewarding when something that you’ve designed and created goes down well and others also love what you’ve designed and made.
In the Spring I entered 4 of the ‘silver/crystal’ colour spiral glass / Swarovski earring designs Into the Lancashire Open exhibition at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, happily they all got selected and 7 pairs went off to new homes!
Am just so pleased with how all my designs, experiments and work in progress are coming along – my new glass pendant designs and these earrings in a variety of different colourways – a selection of them are on display / for sale on my stall at events and there’ll be a small curated collection on my new elfin alchemy website (launched in the Spring).
“I feel really proud of this design, although they’re still pretty fiddly to make, they are quite magical and worth the work involved.”
My own collection of them is growing too – as chief tester – I’ve a few pairs in the different styles and love wearing them all!
In my next blog posts I’ll be sharing some more of my journey and how my ‘elfin alchemy’ name found me, come with me on my adventures…
Was it just a coincidence that last summer whilst I was busy working on fine-tuning some of my spiral wirework jewellery designs that the British Library contacted me? If you’ve read my last few posts, yes quite amazingly I got to teach my Anglo-Saxon inspired spiral wirework jewellery making masterclasses as part of their iconic Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.
The spiral design is a feature of many Anglo-Saxon artworks, in manuscripts, metalwork, stone crosses etc and it’s also a design that has fascinated me for decades.
some info about the spiral symbol
The spiral is believed to symbolise the journey or cycle of life, perhaps in some instances it represents a serpent, the cosmos or the spiral of life. But, when used to decorate Anglo-Saxon crosses in churchyards (see below), the running spiral design also known as a plant or vine scroll is thought to symbolise Christ as the true vine which gives life and is a visualisation of salvation and paradise.
In my late teens and early 20s I spent some years travelling, working, backpacking around the world and having adventures (will share a few of these with you another day). This time in my life enabled me to experience many different places, its people and their culture. Art, design and history have always interested me and my travels helped open up my eyes to this new world of mysterious sacred places, our ancient ancestors and their artwork.
I could see many similarities across the continents and time divide, from Australia, South and Central America to our European Neolithic ancestors, the Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. The mystery of why they all created these spiral designs and what this and other symbols signified has intrigued me ever since… and yes, I still find spirals everywhere!
Well, there is a little bit more on this inspired by spirals journey, that involves my own jewellery designs and how my new business name found me, which I will share in my next blog posts, come with me on my adventures…
I really didn’t have an inkling 9 years ago when I chose to learn more about our Anglo-Saxon heritage and teach these Anglo-Saxon theme jewellery making workshops for the Landscapes Project quite where it would lead or the incredible journey I would have…
Is it our destiny that pulls us in these directions, moves us by chance onto these different paths?
Destiny, fate, chance whatever you want to call it, seems to play a major part in my life, as so much of what I do seems to happen by accident. When I retrained as a teacher 16 years ago, I thought I would just teach basic design and photo-editing. I had no idea that two years later I would begin to specialise in teaching jewellery making and teach it at a number of colleges, groups, galleries and organise/run my own classes for over 10 years.
Learning about the Anglo-Saxons and teaching my jewellery making workshops for the Landscapes Project for the Forest of Bowland AONB really helped enrich my knowledge and broaden my horizons. It was the start of something amazing that linked my teaching with my design skills, jewellery making and my interest in our ancient ancestors.
My Anglo-Saxon adventure continues – 3 So after teaching the workshops at the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in Durham, it was followed in 2016 by being asked to teach some workshops as part of the Warrior Treasures, Saxon Gold / Staffordshire Hoard exhibition at the Leeds Royal Armouries museum. They’d also discovered me online via the Landscapes Project (sadly its not online anymore).
These workshops were longer, for a day instead of 2 hours and inspired by some of the Anglo-Saxon designs in the exhibition – that were decorated with double spirals – I developed some further wirework jewellery designs.
I’ve already written a few blog posts about this particular journey, my teaching and Staffordshire Hoard exhibition visits:
What happened next was very wow! I couldn’t believe it when last Summer I was contacted by the British Library, which resulted in me travelling down to London in October 2018 and January 2019 and teaching my Anglo-Saxon jewellery making 1-day masterclasses as part of their iconic Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.
“If there is ever a good example of the benefits of writing a blog, I think this is it… as I asked how they found me and it was from doing a google search and my blog posts and websites were there!”
It was super exciting, but I also put in a fair bit of time in preparing myself for it; learning more about the Anglo-Saxons, developing further designs for the masterclasses and ordering/organising materials etc. It was also way outside of my comfort zone… once I’m actually teaching I’m ok, as I feel happy when I’m demonstrating or helping students, but talking / presenting I find much more difficult and my brain often turns to jelly with my words coming out jumbled up or not at all. Thankfully both masterclasses went really well and I was very proud of myself for facing my fears.
Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition
Anglo-Saxon jewellery making masterclass
Anglo-Saxon jewellery making masterclass
What a wonderful opportunity it was and so totally unexpected. Plus I got to visit the fascinating exhibition for a quick look before I went around with the workshop participants pointing out pieces of particular interest and inspiration for the masterclass workshop designs.
Well, there is a little bit more to my Anglo-Saxon journey, that involves my own jewellery designs and my new business name, which I will share in my next blog post, come with me on my adventures…
It was a great experience teaching the Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops for the AONB Forest of Bowland Landscapes Project – and although I didn’t know it yet – the wheels had now been set in motion!
At these workshops, the project co-ordinator was there, alongside a photographer Gaye Woolard taking photographs of me teaching, the students making and our finished jewellery makes. Some of these photos, together with student feedback and info on the workshops were then featured on the Landscapes Project website. This really was pivotal and helped open the door for the amazing things to come…
My Anglo-Saxon adventure continues 2 years later and again totally unexpected, the workshop organiser for the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition at Durham Cathedral contacted me and asked if I was interested teaching some workshops they were running alongside the exhibition. As you can imagine, I was both surprised and ‘over the moon’ about it, and asked them how they found me?
“A google internet search of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ workshops had led them to the Landscapes Project and me!”
It was really exciting and a great opportunity for me to develop my knowledge of the Anglo-Saxons further, I even discovered I had a British Library book about St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels amongst my small collection of books, which felt just like ‘kismet’. It was great that the world of the Lindisfarne Gospels would be brought to life, as I was able to combine my teaching with a visit to see the beautiful Durham Cathedral and the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in person.
Similar to the Landscapes Project workshops it was open to everyone. On my jewellery making courses, I’ve mainly taught women – from teens to adults – and it was really rewarding to have these opportunities to teach mixed groups; women, men and children. I was delighted that the children managed much better than I expected and were often able to pick up the skills quicker than adults. Perhaps because children are learning new things all the time and will just give it a go without worrying about it, whereas some adults have a fear that they aren’t creative or won’t be able to do it.
Afterwards, on my journey back to Lancashire, I spent a few days visiting other Anglo-Saxon churches near Newcastle, Hexham Abbey, the Long Meg stone circle and Mayburgh Henge near Penrith. Its a beautiful area with so much of sacred and ancient historical interest, one day I hope to return and spend more time exploring this fascinating area.
I’m still amazed when I look back on this journey, it continues in my next blog post, come with me on my adventures and read my story about teaching Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops.
Wow! Life is definitely pretty strange, you just never know where things will lead… this time last year I didn’t have an inkling that I’d be teaching jewellery making masterclasses at the British Library in London as part of their iconic Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.
“I still can’t believe it, its like something that happens in dreams, not in real life!”
Here is my story of how it began
Back in 2010, I had no idea where it would lead me when out of the blue I was contacted and asked if I was interested in teaching some jewellery making workshops as part of the Forest of Bowland AONB Landscapes Project. The brief I was given was to link the workshops to the local landscape and its history.
I think it had been expected that I’d probably choose the Romans, as we’ve got a lot of Roman history in Lancashire, including a Roman museum on the site of the Roman fort of Bremetenacum Veteranorum in Ribchester in the Ribble Valley. But whilst doing some research on the Forest of Bowland’s history, I came across the Anglo-Saxons. To be honest I didn’t really know much about them and delving further, they really intrigued me. Anyway, something seemed to be pushing me to choose them instead of the Romans?!
What an great opportunity for me learn about the Anglo-Saxons. Although they are part of our history, I wasn’t taught anything about them at school and since then, I hadn’t heard a lot about them.
This kindled the fire of my knowledge and creativity!
Once I began, I really enjoyed discovering the Anglo-Saxons and spent hours online researching and reading about them; where they came from, why they came, how they lived and most importantly for me was seeing examples of their artwork.
Alongside coming across their wonderfully strange interlaced designs with animals and birds (zoomorphic design), I noticed that they also used lots of spirals in their decoration of manuscripts, stone work, weaponry and especially in their early jewellery design. At the time, the most exciting of all were the stone crosses I found at a churchyard in the Forest of Bowland and no less they were decorated with spirals. This was great, it was the direct link I needed for the spiral jewellery designs I would teach on the workshop.
“I have been fascinated by spirals for many years, especially how they have found their way into the artwork of many ancient civilizations across the world.”
In my own jewellery making I love working with wire, especially copper wire with all its magical healing properties and by 2010 I was already teaching a range of different wirework skills including spirals on some of my further wire skills jewellery making classes in adult education at Lancashire College and on my own bebeady classes that I ran at Cedar Farm and other venues across Lancashire.
I adapted my spiral designs for these Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops, so that they would be suitable for both beginners and for families, adults and children. All of this took up quite a lot of time and if you were looking at it from a purely business point of view it wasn’t something worth doing, but it became more about my own development and doing something I really enjoyed.
After teaching these jewellery making workshops for the Forest of Bowland AONB Landscapes Project, I was busy and didn’t think any more about them, I had no idea where it would take me in the future… to be continued in my next blog posts, come with me on my creative journey and read my story about teaching Anglo-Saxon jewellery making workshops…
Instead of doing what I would normally do, for the past year, I’ve been trying out ‘alternatives’ from alternative therapies and healing to finding different solutions for what I do in my work and experimenting with alternative design ideas. I’m trying to approach everything with an open mind and to just see what happens…
At the end of 2016, I decided I wasn’t enjoying the work involved with organising my classes and after 13 years of teaching jewellery making classes, I thought these Spring 2017 classes would be my last ones. But, I’m still teaching, slightly differently now though, as I’ve begun teaching bespoke 1-1 and small group taster workshops.
Last Summer whilst at an artisan market, I had an interesting conversation about work with my neighbouring stallholder, she and another of the artists I knew were both working part-time as assistants/helpers for older clients through an agency. I needed some extra regular income and thought this could be a potential alternative part-time job. Since then I’ve been working a few hours to one day per week as a personal assistant.
To make it easier for my bad back and problems carrying things with my left hand, I’ve altered my display to make it easier to set up and carry using a trolley. I’m trying to limit my driving by doing events within a 45-minute drive time. Also instead of doing as many events in 2018, as an alternative, I’m devoting more time to my online sales and working on my webshop and other alternatives.
Ash Fused Glass
Out of the ashes of sadness, a new direction is born – an alternative – I’m sure my dad would be proud to be part of it too. My hope is to be able to help others that want to have a beautiful keepsake or piece of jewellery made with some of their loved ones or pets ashes.
Alternative therapies and healing
During 2017 I began going to a range of different sound healing meditations and workshops, these are amazing, but I found that I need to give myself a day or two afterwards to just chill out and relax. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m in an altered state, my head is buzzing and I see more rainbow sparkles than usual.
I’ve also been going to Eden Energy workshops and other classes to try and help heal myself using an alternative way.
Are you also looking for alternatives to the normal path? I’ve been amazed this past year, how many others I’ve met that are also interested in similar things and alternative ways.
If it’s not working and the path seems blocked by many obstacles, my route is to find a creative way around it, an alternative path… I do believe in silver linings!
Let there be sparkles of light along your journey xx Sam Rowena
There seems to be angels and dragons everywhere in Somerset!
In this blog post, I will share some of the places I visited on my recent Glastonbury Experience journey and what I discovered about the angels and dragons there.
When you start to look around, you see that there are lots of angels and dragons everywhere, especially in our art, sculpture and churches.
I’ve always just accepted angels and dragons being here and part of our lives, but I never really knew why so writing this blog post has been an interesting journey of discovery.
It has definitely been information overload, angels and dragons are fascinating and vast topics and it’s not been easy to just write a short blog post… but I’m going to try to keep this Glastonbury Experience blog post to just a bit of the info I’ve discovered about Archangel Michael and the angels/dragons that decorate a few of the places in and around Glastonbury.
Some info about angels:
In the ‘Secrets of the Universe in Symbols’ by Sarah Bartlett, “Regarded as messengers of God by Jews, Christians and Muslims, they embody heavenly purity and benevolence…”
musical angel on the organ
a winged bull – angel
Some photos of angels and winged creatures that decorate the ancient 12th Century St Cuthbert’s Church in Wells, near Glastonbury in Somerset. It has a beautiful painted wooden roof decorated with angels, interesting history and carvings/stonework. For more of its history visit St Cuthbert’s website.
And this leads me on to St Michael/Archangel Michael, who he is and what he does, depends really on your faith and beliefs.
In the Sacred Sites blog on Glastonbury: “St.Michael, or more properly the Archangel Michael, is traditionally regarded as an angel of light, the revealer of mysteries and the guide to the other world. Each of these qualities are in fact attributes of other earlier divinities that Michael supplanted. Frequently shown spearing dragons, St.Michael is widely recognized by scholars of mythology to be the Christian successor to pagan gods such as the Egyptian Thoth, the Greek Hermes, the Roman Mercury and the Celtic Bel. Mercury and Hermes were considered guardians of the elemental powers of the earth spirit, whose mysterious forces were sometimes represented by serpents and linear currents of dragon energy.”
According to Wikipedia: “In the Roman Catholic teachings, Saint Michael has four main roles or offices. His first role is the leader of the Army of God and the leader of heaven’s forces in their triumph over the powers of hell. He is viewed as the angelic model for the virtues of the spiritual warrior, with the conflict against evil at times viewed as the battle within. The second and third roles of Michael in Catholic teachings deal with death. In his second role, Michael is the angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven. In this role Michael descends at the hour of death, and gives each soul the chance to redeem itself before passing; thus consternating the devil and his minions. Catholic prayers often refer to this role of Michael. In his third role, he weighs souls in his perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, Michael is often depicted holding scales. In his fourth role, St Michael, the special patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament, is also the guardian of the Church. This role also extends to his being the patron saint of a number of cities and countries”
In Somerset, there are many churches and chapels dedicated/named after him, including the picturesque 13th Century (or possibly earlier) church of St Michael and All Angels in Somerton, near Glastonbury. It’s famous for its oak roof with its elaborate carvings, featuring 4 pairs of dragons, believed to have been carved by the carpenters from nearby Muchelnay Abbey around 1500.
Today Somerton is a small sleepy rural medieval hamlet, but once it was the main town of Somerset and even for a short while in the 7th Century, the capital of the ancient county of Wessex. In Medieval times it was an important crossroads on the road between London and the South-west, which has resulted in many lovely ancient medieval buildings and it’s a pretty place to wander around. For more of its history visit the Somerton Web Museum website.
“I don’t usually look up at ceilings, but it’s got me looking upwards to see what’s hidden there!”
Some info about dragons:
Wikipedia states that: “A dragon is a legendary creature, typically scaled or fire-spewing and with serpentine, reptilian or avian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures around the world.”
St Michael is often shown in images with his lance, battling a dragon. In Christianity and many other religions, it signifies good conquering evil.
But, there’s more to dragons than this… In China and many Asian countries, dragons are a symbol of good luck, power and strength.
There are many different types of dragons; ‘Wyvern’ dragons are two-legged winged dragons with barbed tails and these are usually the type shown with St Michael, whereas Chinese dragons are more snake like.
Until I began looking into why there are so many dragons here in Somerset, I hadn’t realised that it’s their main symbol. The Somerset county flag is a ‘Wyvern’ dragon in red and gold and for the past Century it’s been on the coat of arms for Somerset County Council and it used to be the symbol for the ancient county of Wessex, but it has an even older history going back to Celtic symbols and the Romans. Many of the counties logos, for schools, clubs and businesses feature ‘Wyvern’ dragons, and it’s on many other flags too, the most well-known one being the Welsh flag! For further info on the history of flags visit the: British County Flags blog
An alternative view of dragons can also be found on the interesting and inspiring ‘Glastonbury Tor: Maker of Myths’ website, written by Frances Howard-Gordon: “The Goddess took many forms and was represented in a variety of different aspects, but believers would see her essential nature in the harmony and balance of the natural order, the ebb and flow growth and decay of life itself. She was evoked and celebrated on hills and mountains, these being her seats or thrones on earth. It is interesting to note that many early images of the Goddess have spirals on their breasts, resembling the spiral on the Tor. Spirals also symbolised the coiled serpent or dragon, both regarded as sacred in the old religion. The dragon or serpent represented the natural energies of the earth and the sky – energies which were cooperated with and revered. In the Shakti cults of south-east Asia and China, dragons and serpents were associated with clouds and rain, and the Sumerian goddess Tiamat was a sea-serpent and Great Waters goddess. The Greek Mother of all things was the serpent Eurynome, who laid the world-egg. The dragon was also regarded as a manifestation of the psyche in which the real and the imaginary are blurred and are, as in nature, only different aspects of life.
…The first church on the Tor was probably of the late twelfth or early thirteenth century and was dedicated to St Michael – a dedication which was characteristic of such a hill-top site. St Michael, apart from being the ruler of archangels according to Christian tradition, was also the dragon-slayer and the personal adversary of Satan. Early Christianity believed the gods of the old religion to be fallen angels or demons. The Christian church seems to have had a definite policy of building churches dedicated to St Michael on the old religious sites and sacred mounds. Since the Tor and its spiral maze represented the dragon, a symbol of the Primal Mother or Earth Spirit in pagan times, the building of a church dedicated to the dragon-slayer was obviously meant to act as a powerful deterrent to any kind of pagan celebration.”
My research into angels and dragons has been quite a revelation and given me a whole new outlook on them. I still view them with awe and wonder, but it’s combined with greater knowledge and a desire to know more…
My next blog post – Glastonbury Experience July 2017, St Michael pilgrimage path – follows soon, come and join me on my journey, Sam Rowena x
One of the Anglo Saxon pieces in the Warrior Treasures exhibition of the Staffordshire Hoard particularly stood out from the rest, as it seemed to have a different design.
The detailing and workmanship on this sword pommel wasn’t quite as intricate, it had different colouring – not being gold (although some little bits of gold can still be seen) – and I think its the only one decorated with a strange face, alongside its zoomorphic animal designs.
I was intrigued by it and wanted to discover more about it… Does this bearded face have some significance? and what does it mean?
I had come across other similar faces in Anglo-Saxon artwork and in churches, symbols for the Celtic Green Man, ancient gods and other deities.
My first internet search yielded a thesis paper by Rachel D. Brewer about the Staffordshire Hoard, which had a paragraph about the piece (it was written just after the Hoard had been discovered, so there may be newer evidence that’s come to light since then). It stated that the bearded man pommel is believed to be one of the oldest items in the Hoard and from the late 6th Century, possibly of Scandinavian origin. Its made from a copper-alloy and has a ‘ski-slope’ style shape.
On my next internet search, I came across a blog post written by Rosie Weetch, curator and Craig Williams, illustrator at the British Museum. ‘Decoding Anglo-Saxon art‘ helped explain it further for me, that these animal patterns have multi-layered symbolic meanings and stories behind them. The following passage from the blog is really interesting:
“…is a bearded face with a helmet underneath two birds that may represent the Germanic god Woden/Odin with his two companion ravens. The image of a god alongside other powerful animals may have offered symbolic protection to the wearer like a talisman or amulet.”
Although, in the blog post other examples of Anglo-Saxon bearded faces were featured, it does seem to fit this pommel design, as I can clearly see 2 birds/ravens on the pommel, one at either side of bearded face.
I did some Wikipedia research on it: “In Old Norse texts, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear named Gungnir, and wearing a cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions—the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn…”
There’s further info on Wikipedia about the Norse god Odin, and his companions, the wolves and ravens.
The animals on the reverse side of the pommel have been interpreted as boars, the jagged teeth are quite prominent, but perhaps these could be his wolf companions?
the view from above and the interlace design
the mysterious bearded man pommel
one of the gold pommels in the exhibition
Looking down at the top of the pommel you can see a lovely interlace pattern, but also that it looks quite worn / well used. I found more info about this on another blog post by the ‘Thegns of Mercia’:
“Given most items in the hoard are dated to the 7th to early 8th century, sth711 is something quite special. It may be hundreds of years older than the rest of the hoard; a historical artifact even before it was buried.
“There’s far more that is peculiar about this piece, though. First, it’s apex has seen its 2+ mm deep relief completely rubbed away. It’s fair to say that the top third of the pommel cap has lost all it’s decoration to wear and tear. This contrasts strongly with most other items in the hoard which, though made from softer materials, do not display this kind of damage. They are mangled and bent from detachment, yes, but for the most part, they were not subject to decades or centuries of wear before they were put in the ground…” read more of their blog post
I’m completely amazed by what I discovered about it!
Wow… The mysterious bearded man representing the Pagan god Wodin / Odin would indeed make it a very special sword and pommel. I think the Anglo-Saxons believed it would offer them protection and bring them good luck, especially as it had been used in many battles and had been kept and handed down the generations.
I had only intended to write a short blog post, just one or two paragraphs about this intriguing Anglo Saxon piece in the Staffordshire Hoard, but I kept on discovering more about it. I hope you’ll also find this blog post interesting. You too can visit and see this piece in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition
x Samantha, jewellery artist
Taking inspiration from the Anglo Saxon spiral designs in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition and linking it to jewellery making, I taught 2 spiral jewellery making workshops for the Leeds Royal Armouries Museum in July and August 2016 as part of their Warrior Treasures exhibition.
It was a pleasure and an honour to be able to combine teaching jewellery making with my interest in the Anglo Saxons. It also mean’t I’d have another opportunity to visit the Staffordshire Hoard Warrior Treasures exhibition.
Anglo Saxon design is fascinating and its so intricate. I’m especially interested in ancient civilizations in particular their art and design, as I studied design for 3 years at college (this was followed by working as an in-house designer for a number of years, before retraining as a teacher. I also studied silversmithing for 5 years part-time at college and have been making jewellery for over 25 years).
The workshop included many demos, as we covered a number of different spiral designs, from basic spirals to double spirals using different types and thicknesses of copper wire, plus there were a few continuation spiral designs. This was followed by turning these spiral pieces into jewellery.
Everyone that took part in the workshops, seemed to enjoy themselves and became engrossed in making their spirals and finished the day with a number of pieces of spiral jewellery, including earrings, pendants, charms and a spiral charm / pendant beaded cord necklace or bracelet.
Some of the super spiral jewellery created by the students on these workshops:
variation double spiral beaded cord bracelets
variation spiral earrings
spiral earrings and beaded necklace with spiral pendants
The pieces on display in the Warrior Treasures Staffordshire Hoard exhibition are completely fascinating and enchanting. So much work and skills has gone into creating them. There are a number of pieces that are decorated with spirals, most of these have double spirals, but a few of them have a mixture of different spiral patterns.
Many ancient civilizations across the world used spirals in their artwork. Neolithic examples that are 4-5,000 years old can be seen at the entrance to the Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland as well as Megalithic Temple decoration in Malta.
Spirals are believed to signify the cycle of life and double spirals the Spring and Autumn equinoxes.
Maybe the use of spirals by these ancient civilizations helped to make them revered mysterious symbols and continue their usage by later civilizations.
Some of the spiral decorated pieces in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition:
double spiral decoration on a pommel
a mixture of spiral and other patterns
a mixture of spirals and other patterns
double spiral decoration on a bird shaped figure
Taking inspiration from these Anglo Saxon spiral designs in the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition and linking it to jewellery making, I taught 2 spiral jewellery making workshops for the Leeds Royal Armouries Museum in July and August 2016 as part of their Warrior Treasures exhibition.
See some pieces created by my students on these workshops in my next blog post. Samantha, jewellery artist x