A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to go the British Museum when they had an exhibition of Ancient Columbian art. The beauty and originality of the style really spoke to me. What really intrigued me was that they achieved what looked like wire wrapping through using moulds and molten metal. I just had to buy the book of the exhibition and planned when I was better at wirework to use it as an inspiration. I often find inspiration in history, as the shapes are always so different and it is easier to think how they can be applied to jewellery.
The opportunity to do this came when I was asked to create a tutorial for ‘Bead and Jewellery Magazine’. The theme was ‘around the world’, this gave me the perfect excuse to try and recreate the style of Ancient Columbian jewellery. So I got my gold plated and gilt wire together and started to play.
I knew after a brief look through the book that I wanted to include spirals in the finished piece. (The book is beautiful and full of amazing art, definitely worth getting). I particularly liked the shaping of the nose art. Yes, people did wear jewellery around their noses and faces. So I started playing with the wire, trying to cement an idea in my head.
This is what I came up with, it took me a while to work out how to do the intricate criss-cross of the metal work I was trying to get the style of the era. I didn’t want to copy, just get the feel of the jewellery.
In this practise piece, I made the mistake of using 0.6 mm wire, and that was not strong enough for what I had in mind. I did re-acquaint myself with some tools that I hadn’t used for a long time to help with the swirls and zig zags.
At this point, I got the idea of the finished piece in my head and started to write the tutorial. The finished piece can be seen in ‘Bead and Jewellery Magazine’ Issue 80.
Most of the wires I used came from Wires , the cords came from JewelleryMaker, and the tools I used were from Beads Direct. I am really pleased with how the idea that had been wandering about in my head for a number of years came into being. Below are photographs of the finished piece.