Wearing a Heart on your Wrist

Solid Sterling Silver Celtic Knot Heart Charm Bracelet

Solid Sterling Silver Celtic Knot Heart Charm Bracelet

I’ve a real passion for Celtic knotwork and after the success of the Celtic Cross pendant I was longing to explore more ideas.

Charm bracelets are still proving very popular, so I thought I’d have a go at creating my own version of this style.  Working with a large link trace chain in solid sterling silver for the bracelet element, I chose a knotwork heart design from which to handcraft a single silver charm.

Heart Charm - work in progress

Heart Charm – work in progress

The detail of the design was hand-pierced from solid silver sheet, then filed into shape and formed.

Silver Heart Charm attached by figure of eight link to bracelet

Silver Heart Charm attached by figure of eight link to bracelet

The charm is then attached to a custom made figure of eight link on the chain via a jump ring.  Additional charms could be added to the bracelet chain, but I am all for classic simplicity and think that the beautifully detailed Celtic knot charm needs no accompaniment.

‘Heart’s Desire’ Sterling Silver Celtic Knotwork Charm Bracelet

The Solace of Success

Sterling Silver Celtic Cross Pendant

Sterling Silver Celtic Cross Pendant

What a relief when a challenging piece of work you took on with gritted teeth turns out well; even more so when the result is so much better than you could have hoped and leads to another commission!

This beautiful Celtic Cross pendant did give me one or two sleepless nights, but my client was so thrilled and enthusiastic about the result that I have to admit that every moment was worth it.

The whole piece was hand pierced using a saw frame with blade and then each and every element of the detailed design had to be hand finished with file and emery paper; it took time and patience, but I hope you’ll agree that all that work has paid off with interest.

I now feel confident enough to tackle another similar project, and am currently playing with a few designs that I think will make a good home for a stunning facet cut blue moonstone that I have in stock.  I’ve been wondering for a while how best to use it and I think I might well have found the perfect answer.

Sterling Silver Celtic Cross design hand-cut Pendant

Sterling Silver Celtic Cross design hand-cut Pendant

The Devil’s in the Detail

Celtic Knotwork Pendant, hand-pierced from Sterling Silver - work in progress

Still in its rough, unfinished state, a Celtic knotwork pendant, hand-pierced from sterling silver

I’m certainly not the greatest wielder of a saw frame in the world, but I’m also not easily discouraged by a piece of work that involves a good deal of piercing; I break my fair share of saw blades in the process, but doesn’t everyone?

On the other hand, I did quake slightly at the thought of making this commissioned pendant – not so fearful of the actual piercing, but rather in the amount of careful finishing necessary to bring all those cut edges from their initial rough state (despite my prudent choice of a fine-toothed blade for the job) to a smooth and highly polished finish – they say the devil’s in the detail and this piece is certainly proving to be solid proof of the truth in that old adage.

My client wanted quite an intricate pattern for the knotwork, but didn’t want the piece to be too large.  Thus, this piece is no more than 2.5 cm in diameter – you can see below the starting point with the design etched (not a necessary step to transfer the design, but I find it useful) onto the silver sheet before any drilling or piercing commenced:

Celtic knotwork design etched on silver

Celtic knotwork design etched on silver

Once I had the design in place, the next step was to identify and mark which areas were to be removed with the saw and then, using a centre punch, mark out a seat for the drill bit in each area.  After drilling all the holes needed to give access to the saw blade, I set about the task of carefully threading the saw blade through the metal, getting it up to tension in the frame and then piercing out as accurately as possible the design from the metal.

Pierced design completed - finishing yet to begin!

Pierced design completed; finishing process yet to begin …

Now begins the task I am least looking forward to; the painstaking work of filing, emerying and polishing each and every nook and cranny to get as perfect a finish on the piece as I am able.  As you will see from the first image above, the pendant has been domed slightly and this will help access some of the smaller, more awkward areas as the doming process stretches the metal and opens up the gaps in the design a little.  Lastly I’ll make a chunky bail out of silver wire and solder that into place.

I can foresee quite a few hours of rather tedious work ahead before I can present the finished piece …

Elemental Spirit of Earth

DRYAD, SPIRIT OF EARTH

Sterling Silver Dryad Spirit of Earth Pendant set with Imperial Topaz

Sterling Silver Dryad Spirit of Earth Pendant set with Imperial Topaz

With this piece I have continued the Elemental Collection theme; you may recall my earlier design representing the element of Fire (Salamander, Spirit of Fire) ~ here we move on to the Earth element.

I felt this beautiful Celtic knotwork tree image was a perfect representation for elemental earth, and the name ‘Dryad’, being the name commonly associated with a tree spirit, certainly fitted the piece’s theme to perfection.  The tree’s roots stretch down far into the earth beneath it and the stunning cinnamon coloured Imperial Topaz gemstone set at the foot of the tree gives the sense of a light and rich soil from which the tree can forever draw its nourishment.

This piece can be seen at my stockist’s in Colchester, Handmade at 6 Sir Issac’s Walk.  If you’d like a similar piece made just for you, please get in touch – my contact details can be found at the top of the page.

I will be continuing this theme with similarly styled pendants for both Air and Water, so please do keep in touch if you’d like to see the results.

Ana

The Legendary Celtic Knot

Celtic Knot Work Sterling Silver Pendant with Black Onyx Cabochon

Celtic knot work is perhaps the most widely recognisable art from early times. Despite extensive study, the Celts remain one of the most elusive and unknowable of ancient cultures. This stems largely from the fact that the Celts appear to have relied extensively on an oral tradition for the passing on of knowledge and skills. Though it is without doubt that they were an educated people, written records of their beliefs and traditions are few.

The artistry of the Celtic knot is regularly seen by around 450 AD and, following the Christian influence on Celtic culture, this art form began to be incorporated into early Christian manuscripts, perhaps the most famous and lavish of which is the Irish Book of Kells ~ an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament recorded in Latin in circa. 800 AD.

There are a great variety of knots, swirls, plaits and other motifs which make up traditional knot work. Can any meaning be attributed to the various knot designs? Well, although probably more folklore than absolute truth, the knot is often referred to as the ‘mystic’ or ‘endless’ knot and is associated with endings and beginnings ~ as the knot has no true beginning or end, it represents the infinite cycle of birth and rebirth of the spirit and emphasises the timeless nature of the soul’s journey. It can also be seen to represent the uninterrupted life cycle of nature and the turning of the wheel of the year through the seasons.

In this way, the Celtic knot has become a symbol or talisman and is often incorporated into items of jewellery, clothing and other ornamentation and given or acquired as a charm against misfortune and ill health. Today, it is often given as a gift with good wishes for health, longevity and good luck with all new projects or endeavours.

By the Light of a Silvery Moon

Well isn’t January just flying by?

At long last I’ve managed to grab a little “me” time to get a couple of new jewellery ideas down on paper. I’ve been rather too fascinated with pendants as neck wear for the past twelve months, and so these two little gems are going to be a bit of a departure for me – and somewhat of an experiment in the making of a complete necklace design.

The inspiration for the first necklace came over the holiday period when we had a particularly clear, beautifully cold and crisp, and exceptionally dark night – I found myself mesmerised by the ghostly crescent moon – she was barely more than a couple of days old as she made her journey across the night sky. I knew I had to pay her homage in crafted silver, and thus the idea for this design began to take shape in my mind.

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon - to be pierced from sterling silver sheet

I started simply, with a fluid crescent shape to be pierced from silver sheet.  To this I wanted to add a gorgeous array of sterling silver round beads, reminiscent of the moon when she is at her full glory.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind I held this image of a beautiful Celtic Priestess, holding this necklace aloft as she whispered the words of an ancient incantation to the Moon.

Crescent Moon Necklace design sketch

Crescent Moon Necklace design sketch

The Celtic theme was still pulling strongly at my psyche and from that came another, similar, necklace design. This one though will be a little more complex to make than the Crescent Moon piece.

Starting with a sterling silver disc, I plan to etch a celtic knotwork design, punctuated in the centre by a bezel set cabochon of black onyx.

Celtic Knot Necklace design sketch

Celtic Knot Necklace design sketch

Once again, I want to embellish the necklace with beautiful silver beadwork and heavy gauge belcher chain – it will have a weighty and substantial feel to it when complete – a stunning piece against a black sweater.

Celtic Knot Necklace design sketch

Celtic Knot Necklace design sketch

The finishing touch will be the central setting of an 8mm round black onyx cabochon and an oxidised finish to the silver of the celtic knotwork pendant element.

Celtic Knot Necklace design sketch

Celtic Knot Necklace design sketch

Work on these pieces is progressing well – watch out for further news about them here over the next couple of weeks.  I so hope you’re going to just fall in love with them as I have!