Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Bracelet a Week: Alabaster

Alabaster Vessel from Tutankhamun's Tomb

Earlier this week, I announced on my studio blog that I am taking on a new beading challenge - as many Egyptian themed jewelry designs as I can make. This week’s bracelet is the first piece in what could be a very large collection, and I’m very excited to unveil it!

When I decided to start a new line of Egyptian style beadwork, it was both a light bulb and face-palm kind of moment. I have always loved the Ancient Egyptian look, and with my new found love of tribal beads and designs, it seemed only natural that I should combine the two and see what happened. I think that after all these years of experimenting with beads and techniques, I may have finally found my own little niche. I only wish I had thought of it sooner.

Egyptian Alabaster Bead Palette

Hopefully I can keep things interesting so that my Bracelet a Week pieces don’t get too boring. I may have to make the occasional non-Egyptian bracelet here and there before I run out of ideas!

The first place I looked for inspiration was my collection of books on Ancient Egypt, and I spent some time making sketches based on some of the patterns and motifs on artifacts found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. One of my favorites is a beautiful alabaster receptacle, which features a gorgeous carved boat, decorated with patterns in black and red.

Egyptian Alabaster Cuff

For my design, I wanted to keep the palette neutral, so I replaced the red with red-brown. Ceylon cream makes a perfect stand-in for the calcite, and shiny jet black does the rest.

For two of the plain rows of black in the pattern, I turned the beads on their sides using a herringbone increase, just to keep it interesting. I like the little bit of space it creates between the beads, and it gives the cuff a little personality.

The pattern I used is only one of many on the artifact, so I may have to revisit this piece again, and try out another pattern, perhaps in a new palette.

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  1. This is just beautiful, Mortira. I love the simplicity of the design that makes it more striking in my mind. Just visited your Artfire for more pics. It's just stunning. Congratulations and good luck with the new line.

  2. I love this and can't wait to see the rest of the collection!

  3. It's beautiful! I love the Egyptian theme also, I find Cleopatra one of the most interesting women of all time. If you want to get in the mind frame of Egypt, read "Cleopatra: A Life" by Stacey Schiff. It's a non-fiction account of Cleo and Mark Anthony. The story is so good it reads like a novel. You can learn a lot about her character for your pieces!

  4. That is a lovely bracelet, and you captured the feeling of the pattern perfectly!

  5. Thanks everyone! Although I don't usually like patterned beadwork, this piece was a lot of fun to make. I guess it's the theme that counts.

    Mandy, thank you for the recommendation. I've added Cleopatra to my GoodReads!


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