Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Helen of Troy Necklace

Helen of Troy - Anthony Frederick Sandys c.1867

Like most ancient tales, the story of Helen is never told the same way twice. The most common threads in the myth are that Helen was a daughter of Zeus, married to Menelaus, and the reason for the Trojan War. Some versions of the story are romantic; seduced by Paris, she flees with him to Troy to start a new and happy life. In other, darker stories, she follows Paris to Troy under the influence of the goddess Aphrodite, and eventually returns to Sparta with Menelaus after murdering her second Trojan husband, Deiphobus.

Whether she was a villain or a heroine, Helen of Troy is still known as a great beauty - the face that launched a thousand ships. As a queen of many countries, she would likely have owned some of the most wonderful treasures to compliment her legendary good looks.

The Inspiration:

When I learned that the theme for the January Etsy BeadWeavers challenge was the ocean, the first thing that came to mind was red coral. The material has been stirring up more controversy than usual of late. CITES - the organization responsible for the care and catalogue of endangered species - is considering adding red coral to the list of taboo creatures. This would essentially put an end to the use of red coral in art and jewelry.

For my challenge entry, I wanted to create a piece in tribute to the fight to save this amazing species. Coral of all kinds are so important to ocean habitat, and protecting them is a worthy cause. As I considered how to incorporate seed bead ‘coral’ into a piece of jewelry, I had thoughts of exotic, Mediterranean necklaces. I decided that I would create something worthy of a Greek queen.

Ancient Mediterranean Bead Palette

The Beads:

To represent red coral, I chose some ordinary opaque red 11/0 seed beads. To make the palette regal and luxurious, I added 8/0 seed beads and hex cuts in various jewel tones like sapphire and emerald. To add a touch of gold, I grabbed some sandy colored light amber seed beads. Although I was making a necklace for Helen of Troy, I also wanted it to look somewhat primitive - something you could find in a seaside stall in Ancient Greece. I hoped that this mixture would help create the rich elements of royal jewels, and the rustic look of archaic craftsmanship.

Helen's Treasure Necklace

The Beadwork:

I sketched out an arrowhead shaped pattern for a bib necklace, to which I would add fringes of red coral branches. After creating the sketch, I decided to add a freeform pattern within it - a line of loops and whorls for the jewel toned beads to follow. As I stitched the necklace, the changes in bead sizes caused the beadwork to take on a new shape which had the rustic look that I had hoped for.

Once the base of the necklace was complete, I added the coral branches. Although this had been my main focus, when I stepped back to look at the finished piece, I realized that it had been better without the fringe. I don’t think that the shapes or the colors compliment each other. If I were to do it over again, I would replace the amber beads with blue, and stitch a structured base to allow the fringe to play on it’s own.

In the end, I decided not to include “Helen’s Treasure” in the EBW Challenge. And, since I’ve been wanting a bib necklace for myself, I put it straight into my jewelry box!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


  1. Fabulous post and gorgeous work! Loved reading about the inspiration behind your lovely necklace....

  2. This necklace is really stunning!

    I have shared this and presented you with an award and you can receive it from our blog:


  3. Good for you Mortira on many counts. Firstly for sharing your social conscience on preserving coral, secondly for that exquisite piece so representative of your subject and lastly for keeping it for yourself! - That made me smile. :)

  4. WOW-I love the sea and this necklace is fabulous. Thanks for sharing.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads

Inspiration Topics

accessories amulet Ancient Worlds Modern Beads animals April's Army art ArtFire astrology astronomy autumn awards awareness bangle beach Bead Inspired Bead Shops bead soup bead spotlight bead stash Bead Trays beaded beads beading theory beads belt bezel birthstones black blog spotlight blue boho bone book spotlight bracelet Bracelet A Week branch fringe brick stitch brown bugles buttons cabochon ceramic chain maille challenge charity chevron chain christmas collar Collections color Color Ideas color triads conservation craft shows crafts crochet crystals cuff Culled Beads current events Current Faves daggers Daily Sets daisy chain Delicas Destash drops Dutch spiral earrings Egypt Egyptian Gods embellishing embroidery environment etsy exotic fair trade fantasy fashion Favorite Beads Favorite Techniques feminine fibers film findings fire polish fixtures Flashback Test flickr inspiration flowers food found object free form fringe Geek Jewels geekery gemstones geography giveaway glass gold gray Greece green herringbone hex cuts history holiday home decor insects inspiration tip inspired beader Inspired by... Inspiring Links ivory Jewelry Stash knitting ladder stitch lampwork lariat leaf fringe leather lights literature loomwork macrame magatamas Master Class Medallions metal free metalwork Mini Collar a Week mixed media mixture Mood Board MOP multi-color multi-strand music natural beads nature necklace Necklace a Day Nepal chain netting New Beads ocean ombre orange paint paper patterns pearls pendant peyote photography Picasso finish pink Pinspiration PMC polymer clay poster sketch purple quick inspiration rainbow RAW red resin ring Ring a Day rivoli Rome Russian spiral scarf science seed beads shell silver soutache spiral rope spring square stitch St. Petersburg steampunk stringing stripes summer tagua TBT The Elements thread Tilas Time Capsule tools trade beads triangle weave tribal tropical turquoise tutorial two-hole beads Ugly vintage Wear it Twice weather white winter WIP wire wishlist wood World Beaders yellow
Blog Home * About * Beading Tutorials * Advertise

Learn About Sponsoring Inspirational Beading with Project Wonderful
Affiliated With ShareASale.com and Amazon.com