Tag Archives: spirals

Inspired by the magic of spirals – part1

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.

spiral decoration on a stone cross in Cumbria
Anglo-Saxon spiral decoration on a stone cross in Cumbria

my journey

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…

Wishing you sparkles and hugs, Sam Rowena x

The Staffordshire Hoard Spiral Workshops

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.

a mixture of spiral and other patterns
a mixture of spiral and other patterns

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).

one of my spiral demonstration pieces
spiral demonstration

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:

Samantha, jewellery artist x

The Staffordshire Hoard Spirals

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.

sea horse piece decorated with spiral patterns
my favourite piece in the hoard in the shape of a horse and decorated with double spirals

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.

malta spirals
Neolithic / Copper Age spiral temple decoration from 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:

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