Celtic Wire Jewelry

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Celtic Wire Jewelry

Initially, I found designing the projects in this book quite a challenge, as my research come up with some stunning exomples of chunky, bronze castings, scabbards, and chalices, but no traces o' line wireworlc at all! However, the more I studied linear detail on objects from ancient burial sites and she surviving pages of illuminated manuscripts, the more I realized that I could extract elements that could be simplified and reworked as wire-jewelry designs

As wire is the mam ingredient of each project in this book, I began by looking at Celtic metolwork The metal most commonly used by the Celts was bronze (an alloy of copper and tin), which was worked either in sheet form, as mloy or embossed decoration, or as raised sudace ornamentation, shaped over a mold with decoration engraved into the exterior. I have tried to reinterpret this solid metal rendering by twisting and braiding wires together, as in the Braided and Twisted Torque Bangles on pages 5-4 and 56. Color also played a significant pan in enhancing Celtic metolwork, with coral in particular being Inlayed onto shields and scabbards, as well as brooch pins. Other natural resoufces used were shells, amber, and semiprecious stones set in as embellishments, as well as red glass or "enamel," which was sunk into the original costings I hove used colored glass beads and semiprecious chip stones threaded on wire as the modern-day equivalent.

Stone carvings were another important source of motifs and inspiration for my jewelry designs. With the advent of Christianity, many Celtic patterns and motifs were incorporated into Christian Celtic art.

The Celts date back to cbout 500 bcl and were mode up of many tnbes, spread from Scotland and Ireland in the north-west, to Russia in the east, and down as for as the Mediterranean in the south. During the Roman period, many of the Celts were pushed into rough, less hospitable a^eos, but their culture continued to thrive and survived unchanged in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and parts of France.

Celtic art has some ot the finest examples o> ornamentation ever created in stone, metolwork, and jewelry. The patterns are incredibly complex, with a knotwork of interlacing detail—limbs and bodies of humans, animals, birds, and reptiles as well as pure abstract decoration in key oi geometric patterns, spirals, and swirls

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Jewelry Design Moti

The spiral i/t Cdtk an represents the never-aiding <ycle of life. .»iJ is j elassic— .uní tushintfy recorrí izaWr— moti/in Celtic ornamentation.

(page 50) require semiprecious "pebbles" ond shells and could very well have existed as protective, talismanic jewelry for the wearer. The Butterfly Necklace (page 102), with its knotted cord, is reminiscent of knotwork borders, ond the Valentine Knot Bracelet (page 48) and Kilt Pin (page 30) have wood- and bone-effect beads reflecting the natural ingredients of those times.

It is immensely difficult, if not impossible, to recreate the style of a bygone age, particularly one as rich and varied as that of the Celts. However, I have ottempted to remain true to the spirit of the Celtic artisans, while using modern-day materials and techniques. I hope that you will not only enjoy creating and adapting my jewelry designs to suit your own style and color schemes, but that, like me, you will rediscover the incredible skill ond craftsmanship of this ancient culture.

The spiral i/t Cdtk an represents the never-aiding <ycle of life. .»iJ is j elassic— .uní tushintfy recorrí izaWr— moti/in Celtic ornamentation.

as can be seen in the remains of the stones and crosses. The triskele and the 3-C scroll motifs, in particular, in which o pattern of three curves radiotes out ot equal intervals from one central oxis, symbolizing the Christian trinity or the cycle of life, can be found repeated in numerous pieces of stone work.

I also took much of my inspiration from the linear swirls and spirols found in the knotwork borders of illuminoted manuscripts such os the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels and used colored beads ond wire to replicate the jewelike colors of natural pigments ond stones. The use of a jig allowed me to duplicate the repeot patterns, as in the Lindisfarne Choker (page 80).

Finally, I considered the other natural moteriols and resources that the Celts would hove hod at their disposal, such as pebbles, shells, svood, bone, and leather. The Wrapped Stone Pendant (page 90) ond the Pebble and Shell Charm Bracelet

Bone Pebbles

Tools coiling and bending svire into small loops or curves, as well as for creating jump rings.

Fiat-nose piiers have flat, parallel jaws. They are used to grip the wire firmly as you work with it, and to bend it at right angles, as well as to neaten and flatten ends so that no sharp wires stick out. They are smooth-jawed, with no serrations or grips, os this would mark the wire when held.

Tlie tools shown on these two pages are virtually all you need to make wire and beaded jewelry and are readily available from craft suppliers, mail-order catalogs and. of course, the Internet. For more information on suppliers, turn to page 126.

Celtic Cross Geometry
flu>\i i i n ro kh.i n: KounJ-nosc pliers,Jiat-noxpliers, dum-nox pliers, wire cutters.
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