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Crowning Glory Series: Ancient History from Diadem to Tiara and Crown

This coming March Danaca Design will be hosting a show featuring tiaras and crowns in many forms called Crowning Glory: Ruling Our Own Destinies, Directing Our Own Paths. While the artists will be exploring the diverse cultural, artistic, historic, and social narratives of these accessories April decided to look into the history of these royal accessories to use as a post on the Danaca Design blog. It turned out to be a fascinating subject so instead of making one post she turned it into a four part series being posted every Monday in February leading up to our show opening and reception on Friday, March 2, 6-8:30pm. This week part 1 is focused on the ancient history of tiaras and crowns.

Tiaras, crowns, these head ornaments have been used for centuries to symbolize social superiority and power, have a history going back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Originally these head pieces were called a “diadem” derived from the Ancient Greek “dia dein” meaning “to bind around”. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs would wear gold head-bands that could be decorated with tassels and other ornaments that hung over the forehead, temple, or even down to the shoulders.

An excellent example of this is the diadem discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun, King of Egypt in ca. 1339-1329 b.c.e. (pictured above) Discovered during the excavation of his tomb in 1922 the kings mummy was adorned with a gold diadem formed in a circlet, at the front a detachable gold ornament with the head of a vulture and the body of a cobra, symbolizing the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt. It is also inlaid with glass, obsidian, carnelian, malachite, chalcedony, and lapis lazuli.

In Ancient Greece diadems were made from all kinds of metal, and with a limited amount of gold available, Greek metalsmiths would decorate them with embossed rosettes, filigree, and other motifs such as the Heracles knot which was found frequently in Hellenistic jewelry. Once Alexander the Great opened up the gold supply from the Persian Empire in 331 B.C.E. the styles became even more elaborate and often contained intricate garlands of tassles, leaves, and flowers.

The shift from diadems as just a circular band to what we now consider tiaras and crowns today is attributed to Ancient Persia, now Iran. The original term “tiara” is Persian in origin and in its original form describes the high peaked head decoration worn by Persian kings. However in ancient Persia crowns were worn in many forms and ancient authors did not always distinguish clearly among the various terms for them, making the most reliable evidence for forms of Persian crowns/tiaras are the depictions on objects such as monuments and coins.

Kings from the Achaemenid period wore tall and serrated golden crowns, called a crenelated crown, which was adorned with gold leaves and colorful jewels. The 22 or 24 serrations of the crown symbolized towers, battlements, temples, or the Sun. The Achaemenid queen wore a jeweled crown with a thin piece of cloth reaching her knees attached. Based on historical documents it seems that the only difference between the King and Queen’s head wear was the thin cloth.

However it was not just the royal Persians that wore head covers to denote status in society. From writings by the ancient Greeks it appears that a tiara was a soft headdress often with a high point and members of the Median upper class wore these high, crested tiaras. Median civilians and officers covered their heads with round and soft egg-shaped felt caps which were decorated with lace. Ancient reliefs depict archers with these caps and a crenelated diadem worn over them. Upper class Achaemenid women wore long headscarves some reaching down to their ankles. This shawl-like headdress was not wrapped under the neck but was usually worn with a diadem on top very similar to many popular bridal veil styles worn today.

Well that wraps up part 1 of this 4 part series. Honestly it is really hard to figure out when to stop because their is just so much fascinating history but if you want to check out more really cool pictures of ancient diadem, crowns, and more I suggest going to The Metropolitan Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org where you can browse their entire collection online.

Check back next Monday to find out about the crowns and tiaras of south and east Asia…I can’t wait.

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Winter Class Schedule Preview

Hard to believe but this year is almost over! Why not add learning a new skill to your 2018 resolutions and take a jewelry class. Here’s preview of what is in store for winter but visit www.danacadesign.com for our complete schedule, expanded class descriptions, and materials list.

To register stop by our studio at 5619 University Way NE, Seattle or call us at 206-524-0916.

Just Hot Enough: Mixed Metal Surfaces
Instructor: Keith Lewis
February 17-19, Saturday – Monday, 10:00-5:00
Class Fee: $480

This workshop explores various ways of combining metals to create rich effects through experimentation with soldering, fusion, and inlay, further enhanced by rolling and roll-printing and the application of a series of simple patinas that enhance the contrast between metals. This is an intermediate class and basic metal working skills are required.

Featured Classes
Total Immersion: Beginning Jewelry Making
Instructor: Dana Cassara
January 15-19, Monday-Friday, 10:00-5:00
Class Fee: $595 | Basic Materials Included

What better way to kick off 2018 than spending a week making jewelry? The immersion workshop combines all three of our Beginning Jewelry Series workshops in to one week long jewelry making vacation. Each day you’ll go home thinking about what to make the next day! No experience necessary.

Chasing and Repousse: A Modern Approach with a Traditional Base
Instructor: Megan Corwin
February 2-4, Friday-Sunday, 10:00-5:00
Class Fee: $450 | $10 fee pay to instructor

In this beginning class, students start by learning to use the pitch bowl and hammer to chase, defining, and texturing the front of a piece of sheet metal and repousse, forming from the back. Explore the great textures and forms made possible with this technique. No experience necessary.

Faceted Stone Setting Theory and Applications: Fancy Stones
Instructor: Kirk Lang
March 3-4, Saturday-Sunday, 10:00-5:00
Class Fee:$295 | $95 materials fee pay to instructor

Learn to set challenging shaped stones in this hands on weekend workshop with master stone setter Kirk Lang. Building off of Faceted Stone Setting Theory and Applications: Round Stones, this more advanced workshop will teach students how to confidently set stones with pointed corners. Faceted Stone Setting Theory and Applications: Round Stones or equivalent experience required.

Precious Metal Clay Basics I
Instructor: Suzette O’Dell
January 13, Saturday, 10:30-5:00
Class Fee: $95 | $75 materials fee pay to instructor

Discover what can be made with Precious Metal Clay+ (PMC+), a marvelous material that can be worked just like clay but when fired becomes pure fine silver. PMC is a great alternative to casting and lots of fun too. No experience necessary.

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Danaca Design Holiday Gift Guide

If you have a metalsmith on your gift list (or if you’re still looking for ideas to tell Santa) we have lots of items that would make great gifts at Danaca Design.

This month we have 10% off of most tools and supplies but if you spend $100 or more take 20% off!

We also have gift cards that can be used on classes, tools, or jewelry in our gallery so that should cover just about everyone left on your list.

Here is a list of some of our favorite tools that make great gifts:

Stocking Stuffers:

Electronic Torch Lighter:

This is the kind of thing that you never think of buying but really are happy to have. As metalsmiths we are lighting our torches over and over so this is one gift that will get a lot of use.

Xuron Wire Cutters:

Everyone should have a pair of xuron wire cutters. Once I bought mine I gave away my other wire cutters. They are that good. Available in both tapered flush and double flush xuron cutters make cutting wire a breeze.

Shaping Pliers:

This is another one of those items that you don’t *need* but is really nice to have. We carry both the ring bending and bracelet bending pliers. They make bending rings and cuff bracelets go so much faster.

Gifts under $50:

Double Horn Anvil:

This little anvil will fit on even the smallest benches. Useful for forging small jewelry and can be screwed down to a stump, jewelers bench, or table.

Optivisor:

Stop squinting at your work and use an Optivisor. I’ll admit…I resisted using an Optivisor for a long time but once I started using one it made my life much simpler. This visor comes with 10x magnification to really let you see what you’re working on.( I noticed I made less mistakes once I could see better too.)

Bur Sets:

Bur sets are another jewelry making staple. Whether you get the cup, ball, or setting bur set they’ll get well used a lot.

Gifts under $100:

Miter Cutting Vise:

This miter cutting vise will let you make precise and even cuts in sheet, wire, tubing, and flat stock up to 4mm thick. Save time by not spending forever trying to cut and file straight lines by hand

Fretz Double Ended Insert Hammer:

I just bought one of these as a holiday gift to myself! Stop searching for the right hammer and get this one. It comes with seven different hammer heads that are easy to change out and very secure once on. Light weight but will move a surprising amount of metal with ease

GRS Inside Ring Holder for vises:

If you like to make rings this one is for you. Part of the GRS setting system this inside ring holder can be used with any vise. Stop struggling to hold rings in place while setting stones this gives a secure hold without risk of crushing the ring shank.

That’s just a few of the many tools and supplies we sell so stop on by our store to see the rest. We are located at 5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA and through Dec 24th we’re open until 7pm Mon-Sat and 12pm-5pm on Sunday

Happy Holidays!