Friday, 31 May 2013

History Hop Challenge.

Here it is, June 1st, Reveal day of the History Hop.

The early period of glass bead making, the first 1000 years or so, hold such a fascination for me it was a no brainer to choose Merovingian 500 - 751 AD as my period in time.

My Lampwork Beads with "Fibula" in the Background
I did a lot of research online and found lots of photographs and drawings.  I also visited the British Museum and saw some Merovingian pieces close up, (as well as some amazing Ice Age art. More about that later I hope.)
Merovingain women would have worn their gowns fastened at each shoulder with a very distinctive fibula type broach. Probably with a string of beads suspended between them. 

The Beads

Being a lampworker making glass beads in the styles I was seeing on the net was not a great problem. I had to mix different colours of glass rods together to get just the right colours for most of these beads. I also used sodium bicarbonate to give the aged look I was after. I wanted them to look as though they had just been exhumed.

The Seed Bead Fibula

Next came the fibula. This was my real challenge. The shape and sunburst style was so distinctive I knew I had to find a way to reproduce it. But I am not a metal smith and I knew I could not do it in glass.
My only real option was beadwork. And so I headed off to Lynn Davy and using her pattern for a Celtic boss I was able, after much cursing and tangled threads and a fair bit of help from Lynn, to redesign the pattern, and make this. The central bead is one of my lampwork lentils, made for the job.

I would have made two of these but I ran out of time.

The earrings are a poor approximation of the skilled metal work done by the smiths of the time, but as I said earlier, I am not a smith. Faceted cubes on simple ear hoops. The originals were filigree set with gems.

This squat conical bead  is a reproduction of a style found commonly from this time.

They were believed to be worn in this orientation but nothing I read said as pendants.  So this is my own interpretation. Threaded on a fine leather thong with a small crazed amber bead.

 Here is all my Merovingian Inspired work together. The half finished boss (right) is my prototype for the full one.

 A big shout out to Leah Curtis for organising this blog hop. My first ever. 

Thank you Leah, I have had a lot of fun.

Thanks for coming to see my blog. Feel free to visit all the other participants in this hop whose blog links can be found below. I can't wait to see what every one else has done.

Leah Curtis - Indus Valley -
Laney Mead - Māori -
Becca - Art Nouveau -
Melissa - English Romanticism and Mourning Jewelry -
Tracy Stillman - Native American -
Gerda - English Romanticism and Mourning Jewelry -
Liz E - Native North American -
Ahowin - Māori (New Zealand)  - 
Jasvanti - Indus Valley -
Lizzie - Art Nouveau -
Julia Hay - Merovingian -
Dini - Celtic -
Caroline - Art Nouveau - 
Charlie - Moche of Peru -
Karin - China -
Niky Sayers - Rome -
Marcia Dunne - Celctic and Mourning Jewelry -
anafiassa - Mesopotamia -
Kokopelli - Native American -
Christa - Native American -
Clair - Roman -
Susan Bowie - Native American -
Gloria Allen - English Romanticism -
Sheila Garrett - Early Russia - 


  1. Wow! You have really gone to town with this and made some amazing pieces! I love that you have made an entire set. It really does look fantastic :-)

  2. Thank you. I have had such fun. Seeing everyone else's work is very inspirational.

  3. I love the beads Julia :) I have just blogged mine...phew...last to the post as usual! I do love the blog hops they get you thinking outside the bead, so to speak, hope you do another one :)

    1. I fancy having a go at a bead soup blog hop. Off to see what you have done now Laney.

  4. Such a great work, wonderful design. I love

  5. I'm so in love with your beads and the beaded details at the end of the necklace are fantastic too.

  6. Wow - gorgeous work! I love how you changed both the texture and colour of commercially available glass to get the beads that you wanted. Your fibula are amazing - you are a very talented artist.

  7. Wow! The necklace steals the show for me... those beads wouldn't look out of place in the museum, they're perfect!

  8. Yeay, field trip. That's what's missing from most blog hops. You are lucky you were so close to the British Museum you could just pop on over. Your aged look beads came out just perfect! Your broach came out beautifully. All in all you made a pretty great post.

  9. These pieces are amazing! You have done a fantastic job--from the lampwork to the bead embroidery to, well, everything! I'm extremely impressed! (And glad that someone else went to town with research.) :D

  10. I like how you made all the different pieces. I also love the fibula. Outstanding!!

    1. Thanks every one. I'm getting a swelled head here.

  11. I love that you made your own beads in the Merovingian style -- just fantastic! Love what you made!

  12. Wow, Julia. You more than rose to the challenge - what wonderful pieces. I am especially in awe of your beaded fibula!

  13. Wow, these are just gorgeous. I'm glad to see all your research paid off.

  14. Wow, what an amazing fibula, you really went 'back in time' with all your jewellery. I love it.

  15. Wow, your necklace is so beautiful and you did a lot of research. The beaded fibula is great and perfect match for the beads.

  16. That is pretty amazing! Love the beads and really fascinating.