Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amber and glass bead necklace

    Amber is a stone that has been revered and desired throughout history. It has been thought to have healing properties, promoting health and wellness as well as being considered valuable enough for trading purposes in the Viking Era.
    In the book "The Great Book of Amber" by Elbieta Mierzwinska this quote is found; "Thousands of years ago people were fascinated by the extraordinary, inexplicable properties of the golden pebbles found on beaches and in coastal forests. The stone burnt when cast into the fire, exuding a pleasant resinous smell and aromatic smoke, and, when rubbed, attracted various small light items towards itself as if by magic.

The stone interior would often hide small undamaged plants and insects, which must also have found their way inside by magic. That sufficed to arouse the curiosity of primitive man, with admiration & respect for this unusual gem. It is no wonder man started attributing magical powers to amber."  

A variation of metal wire wrapping to secure the stone.
    I wanted to make an amber necklace as an accent for this outfit. I was gifted two somewhat large, smooth pieces of amber a few months ago that I chose from. I wanted something nice and flattering, but not "girly" and not too flashy. I found these pictures of amber necklaces online and decided to do a combination of the two.

Another style of metal wire wrapping to secure
stones for pendants.

The front of the amber pendant, wrapped with silver plated wire. I worked the wire netting first, then wove the side to side. I did this for two reasons: I liked the woven look on the other pendant, and second; the stone felt slightly loose with just the netting and I did not want to risk an accidental loss of the stone. This is my first attempt at jewelry making.

The side veiw displaying the metal wire

    Then it was proposed to me to try my hand at making glass beads. Hmmm. Another new skill as a direct result of this contest. Sure. Why not. With the guidance and instruction from Mistress Bengta, I was able to use her equipment and make myself some beads for a spash of color on the pendant. In true Viking fashion, they are blue, green, torquoise, orange and red. From the website of awesomeness I was able to learn much regarding glass beads, what is period and other fascinating information.
    On her webpage she writes this about the value of the beads:  "A tenth century Arab once said that the Vikings would "go to any length to get hold of colored beads" (Wernick, 94). Certainly colored beads of flameworked glass from Birka; native amber and jet; carnelian and silver imported from India and Iran via Islamic and Rus traders; rock crystal; garnet; amethyst; gold, and bronze and many other types of beads were highly prized by the Scandinavians."  This tells me that glass beads and amber combined were prized and valuable, and worthy to be worn by a Nobleman.
    I tried to make two different styles of patterning on the beads; eye beads and ones with, for lack of a better discription, squiggly lines across the width of the bead. The eye beads were supposed to have raised bumps on the surface of the bead that were made with contrasting colors that resemble eyeballs, hence the name. These were an epic fail for that effect, however, I like my mistakes. My first one has the colors blended together so well that it appears to be a blue bead with irredescent green swirls. My second try had me rush it too fast and I pulled some of the clay from the mandral (metal stick used to hold bead in the flame) and it mixed with the melting glass. So inbedded with the turquoise base and reddish dots are bits of clay. I still like my bead. My third, fourth and fifth beads were done in the swirly line pattern. My third attempt is my favorite-blue base with orange swirl. My fourth bead broke when I tried to cool it too quickly. My fifth and last bead is dark green base and light blue swirls. 

The irredesent blue and green "mistake". And in true Viking fashion, I am keeping it!
The polka dot with clay for extra "pazaaz".

I LOOOOVE the swirly beads! Very very happy with how they turned out.

And the finished Ta-Daah pendant. It is strung on a Viking weave gold plated chain that Padruig made a couple years ago. I will be making another one in silver to match the metal wire netting, but simply ran out of time for this competition.

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