After only a few weeks as a divorcee, Eleanor married Henry Duke of the Normans, who would soon become the King of England. They had several children together, including Richard the Lionheart. Though the marriage was tumultuous, Eleanor and Henry remained a royal couple until his death in 1189. After Richard ascended the throne, he placed the care of England in his mother’s hands while crusading in the Holy Land. Eleanor of Aquitaine would bury all but two of her children, living to the then incredible age of 82.
Recently I created a pair of birthstone rings for my husband and me. Though we have always talked about getting tattooed wedding rings instead of gold bands, I wanted something for each of us to wear, and beads seemed like a great alternative to the traditional. I matched each of our birthstones - garnet and pearl - with contrasting seed beads, and used herringbone weave to make simple bands for the glass ‘stones’.
Something about the silver and garnet ring, and the way the herringbone rows curve around the stone, made me think of a jeweled Coptic cross. I was instantly inspired to create a beaded cross using a variation of the same technique. Once I had the idea sketched out, I had an image of an elegant necklace - something a king might bring back from the crusades for his mother.
I used silver lined crystal seed beads and a 6mm faceted round garnet crystal to make the cross pendant. I had already decided to use netting for the necklace, and I considered using a white palette to give it a lacy effect. Eventually I decided that I wanted something to strongly contrast the cross, and went with an all black palette instead. I chose shiny opaque black 11/o and 6/o seed beads, hematite 8/o’s, and black bugles.
Although I had Eleanor of Aquitaine in mind when I designed the collar, the cross and black lace has a very Victorian appeal. I can picture it on a beautiful queen who has plunged herself into a deep black fugue. To incorporate the pendant into the beadwork, I finished the top row with a black 6/o seed bead, and picked it up at the centre of the necklace like any other row. The button clasp also features a CRYSTALLIZED™ Swarovski garnet, embellished with circular brick stitch and picots.
I was fairly pleased with the way the cross came out, but if I were to make another, I think I would try another approach. By starting with circular brick stitch, and then moving to herringbone on all four sides, I think the cross would have more of the gothic elements that I had first imagined.
Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading