I was recently working on a very special project. Inspired by a previous ring I made using Iceland Spar, known as a Viking Compass or "Sunstone" I was asked to create a ring using this stone but with personal references to an Italian heritage inspired by childhood tales of erupting volcanoes, family heirlooms, and treasured ancient artifacts.
Inspirational images personally provided by the commission
At this time I had been researching ancient vessels known as Pyxis after seeing them first hand on my visit to Greece. Used to contain jewellery and personal objects they had been made throughout time using of many materials including glass, clay and stone all over the world.
There was so much rich history and personal details to put into this very special piece of jewellery, we decided it needed to grow and become so much more. To make a vessel that would hold some of the precious fragments inside, it would also represent the person it belonged to through details in it's design.
More significant details to be included in the piece as part of their identity
In researching ancient Pyxis, this particular vessel caught my attention. The handle on the lid reminded me of my Hewn rings. I thought instead of the vessel merely holding the ring inside as a jewellery box, it could actually became part of the design. This would display the ring when not worn and make a sculptural combination of the pieces fitting nicely together.
For the actual aesthetics and technical creation of the piece, I needed to experiment. The image of the worn but vividly coloured tiles provided in the commission and the stories of forebears escaping volcanic eruptions meant the colours and formation of lava flows would be a fitting choice.
Studio experiments trying to capture lava's viscosity.
This gave me the method of unique marbled colours hinting at movement and with a lot of shaping and layering I had my vessel! The lid was cast and shaped to fit with a deep lip and hand carved with the niche to fit the bespoke Iceland spar ring to stand on top.
And here it is, the full combination! This piece also has a few more hidden details requested especially to make it personal but I will keep a lid on those...
If you have any niggling notions about having a unique piece made, get in touch! I'll be happy to answer your questions whether for just a little special somethin' or a wild and crazy idea you're not even sure is possible!
Getting out of the workshop and discovering the majority of my clothing is covered in splashes and smudges of pigment (not in a good way) I have I have made a couple of purchases recently to freshen up my existing wardrobe which currently spill out of vintage suitcases in my "cosy" apartment. The questions I have had to ask when considering a new item have been: "How can I make this work for the crazy/unpredictable weather we continue to have??!" The answer seems to be simple pieces in light fabrics cool enough for coping with the city's public transport in hot spells, but with the prospect of adding interesting tights, knitted layers of cardigans and scarves and my favourite high 70s leather boots as the leaves change colour...
Cue Craft & Culture to create an amazing new lookbook, shot by the talented Fiona Pepe which along with a selection of my handmade jewellery also feature;
interesting knits, tactile leather and THE most amazing ombre tights!!!
The colours add autumnal interest with their faded tones and are made even more wearable by the fact the opaque colour is darker and heavier at the top (thank you!) which flatters even non-model legs drawing attention to the narrowest part of the ankles!
These graded colours and wonderful textures are just what we need for the transition from Summer to Autumn. Here's a look, but check out the whole feature and new items joining the Craft & Culture site here.
Is it a ring, or a Viking Compass to locate the Hidden Sun?
Iceland Spar is an amazing material, usually found as a rhombohedral crystal and part of the calcite family. Calcite has a unique property of double refraction. This means that when rays of light enter the stone it is split, creating fast and slow beams of light. This causes the effect of anything and everything being viewed through Calcite appearing twice. This unique double refraction can also cause a rainbow effect in examples that have small crystal fractures.
It is also thought to be what was known from medieval Icelandic texts as "Sunstone", used by the Vikings for navigation its light-polarizing property helping determine the direction of the sun on cloudy days!
An Iceland spar Sunstone was recovered from the Elizabethan ship Alderney that sank in 1592, suggesting it was still used for navigation after the invention of the magnetic compass. Today it is used in the manufacture of Nichol Prisms, an integral part of optical instruments and polarizing microscopes.
In Norse mythology the sun is personified by the goddess Sól or Sunnabrother/companion of the Moon god Máni.
The sun from the south, the moon's companion,
her right hand cast about the heavenly horses.
The sun knew not where she a dwelling had,
the moon know not what power he possessed,
the stars knew not where they had a station.
Today is the longest day of the year, when the Northern Hemisphere receives the most sunlight. The official start of SUMMER! With this ring you can always find the sun, even when it's hidden. Happy Solstice!