My Miniature Portraiture.

Hi there! In my spare time I have been creating several portrait miniatures.

Painting in miniature is a huge passion of mine and was my job for many years. I used to work for the J.A. Dedouch company based out of Oak Park IL as a miniature portrait artist. I created miniature art on porcelain.

Portrait miniatures first appeared in the early 1500’s in the French and English Courts.

Here is some of my recent work. The miniatures are made on goat parchment or on Arches hot pressed watercolor paper with either Gouache, Createx illustration colors or Doctor Martins spectralite paint. Each miniature takes about 4 hours to create from start to finish. I draw the outline in pencil and then proceed to block in colors. The colors used are mainly transparent pigments and each portrait has many layers of transparent pigment on them. The miniature ovals are 30x40mm in size. Historically the paintings were originally made on parchment using Guache or watercolors.  As the art progressed you find them being painted using oil paint over copper plates using a base of opaque lead white, later than that you find enameled portraits.  I can not oil paint any more (allergic)  so I have substituted oils with modern acrylics for some of my portraits.

I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy creating them!




Historical Bead Furnace Project 2019

Over the past several months, I have been working on a putting together a historical bead making furnace made out of clay.  Being a historical bead maker, I felt that it was very important to recreate as close of a bead making experience for myself so I could further understand how beads were made before modern inventions. I had never made a clay furnace before. I researched the project for about 4 years before I started putting it all together. My goal was to have a portable historical bead making furnace set up that I could travel with and demo bead making.

Two weeks ago the bead making furnace was ready for its first run. Here is a video of me creating my first bead on the clay bead making furnace. The clay furnace is heated with hardwood charcoal.  A pair of bellows was used to add air to the fire so it would get hot enough to melt glass. The glass is C104 Effetre Red Medium and is 5 mm round. It melts at 1050 degrees.

I will be blogging on the entire project at a later date but I wanted to get this out there for you to see. Many thanks to Denise Marsden for the pictures, Master Phelan Tolusmidr for coming out and helping me set everything up and running the bellows. Holland Cooley for making my stand and bellows. Dave Asplund for his forge work making my tools. Denise Tinker Lemke for her vast knowledge sharing and moral support. Jon Morford for being the most suportive husband ever. Neil Peterson for being and inspiration and a pioneer in making historical bead furnaces that work. Dutchess Dagmer and Meistara Reginleif in harfagra for all of the moral support and love. Lastly, Egor Stratovich for helping me with clay choices.

So here is the video. Enjoy!






The Creation of the 21 day Historical Bead Bootcamp, The Fun and my Personal Challenges.

Hi there! Baroness Maricka here. I have not had a chance to blog in a bit and I am working on doing a bit of catch up. In December 2018 I created the 21 Day Historical Bead Boot Camp. It can be found on this website. This entire idea came out of being a member of the An Tir Lampworker’s Guild.

I have been a member of the An Tir Lampworkers Guild for several years. We create bead sets twice a year that are given out to other kingdoms as largess by our King and Queen.  We make amazing largess.

Over the past few years participation in the group had gone down a bit and this started two conversations that I had with two SCA Laurels. They are both bead makers and are huge inspirations of mine:  Meistara Reginleif in harfagra and Master Phelan Tolusmidr.

I had a few thoughts that I shared. One being that we are a historical society, but the majority of the beads that were being made by the guild are really lovely but for the most part not completely historical. I felt strongly that the guild should have a little more of a historical focus because we are a historical group. For example, the costumers guilds focus on historical costuming, the culinary guilds on period food.  I also wanted to see the guild be more of a community of bead makers where we could learn together and grow as a group instead of just making kingdom largess.

One of the things that came out of these conversations was that many people probably didn’t have access to much historical research. Reference books are often quite expensive and/or difficult to obtain and I am utterly fortunate to be able to have the resources that I have. The other topic that came up was how to inspire others to want to be more historical in their creativity. My challenge was to find a way to help with both and inspire others.

The result of these conversations spawned the idea of the Bead Boot Camp.

Being a bead researcher, I know how much books cost and that there are not a lot of bead books out there. Fortunately, this is changing in the academic community and more research has been done with historical beads over the past three years than ever before!

I also know how hard it is to reproduce a historical bead based on a photo alone. I have been constantly studying and dissecting beads on paper and in my brain and researching endlessly so that I can do this.  Old bead photos generally do not give you all of the information that you need to accurately reproduce the bead. For example, cobalt blue beads that are old and have been sitting in the dirt for hundreds of years look like they are opaque, when in fact most were originally transparent, depending on region and time period.

This was an idea that I have had for a long time based on my research and it really helped me when I was doing the Valsegarde reproduction beads for the Vikings Begin exhibit in Ballard WA.  The photo of the blue and white bead I received to do the reproduction looked opaque, but I recreated it with a transparent cobalt blue, hoping that my research on Viking-Age beads gave me a correct assumption. When I saw the original at the exhibit, I squeed in sheer joy because you could see light through the bead.  It looked opaque because of the aging process of being exposed to the elements of the soil it was in but in fact it was transparent.

My other tell was the Callmer Trade Beads book and the updated bead chart made by Neil Peterson that I use extensively when reproducing beads – all of the cobalt blue beads are listed as transparent.  I contacted Neil Peterson to discuss the use of cobalt blue in Viking-Age beads.  He gave us permission to use his bead charts in the guild challenge and resources as well.  His charts further show the use of transparent cobalt blue glass in period.

This idea of the transparent glass challenges some older research out there.  Guido’s book describes some cobalt blue beads as opaque, as well as other books on Early Anglo-Saxon beads. When in reality, the beads based on newer research were most likely all transparent cobalt blue when they were made. So if you are looking at a photo of a bead to reproduce, it is important to know what that base color really was.

Back to the Bead Boot camp…

I had four main focus points I wanted to use that I thought were important when I created the bead boot camp.

1) To provide documented beads, with full color modern examples, to use as a visual for making accurate historical beads. Sometimes it is difficult to look at a drawing of an old bead, or a photo of an old bead, and be able to tell precisely how it was made or even what color it was originally.  These sheets will help create historical beads much more accurately.  I included tips and tricks on how to make the beads, which will help both new and experienced bead makers become more versatile and knowledgeable in their  technique.

2) Being a bead making teacher, I realized that a lot of people may not have access to an instructor in their local area. I wanted to be able to provide an interactive daily study on making beads. It started with the most basic shape and progressed into more challenging designs that can assist bead makers in becoming consistent with lamp working in general. The sheets can be worked on alone or in a group environment.

3) Having gone on a short break from bead making in the past, I realized that for experienced lamp workers that have been off the torch for a while, this boot camp could assist in helping get back into the full swing of bead making in a relatively short period of time.

4) I am a firm believer that repetition and practice of one type of bead, during the same bead making session, will allow a bead maker the ability to create much more consistent beads. Over time, this will allow each bead type to become easier to create.

The challenges that I came across in creating the bead boot camp.

There were several beads in the challenge that I had not made. My task was to look at the bead, take it apart in my head layer by layer so I could accurately give a description on how to recreate it the same every time.  This took time. Every day during the challenge I got up at 6 am and turned on my bead kiln and proceeded to work on figuring out the correct process of making the daily bead. Some were simple to do, others not so much. Each challenge took me a minimum of 6 hours to make and a max of 12 hours. I made hundreds of beads. I failed several times before I came up with the perfect bead solution as to how to consistently recreate the original.

I also discovered that about half way through I had lost sight of a few things that were important to me about making historical beads. All historical beads are not perfect. There are examples of perfect beads, such as the Waring States beads from China, or beads from Iran, or the amazing Phoenician beads.  Much of the beads from Western Europe and Scandinavia do not share that symmetry – I’m not sure if it was a skills issue or the lack of desire for symmetric beads.

The beads we were making in this challenge for the most part were imperfect as they are  Viking-Age beads based off of Callmer’s Trade bead charts. I decided to use this as a base for two reasons: they are classified very well into categories and there is a varied degree of difficulty in the beads to make. The challenge was not about making the most difficult beads but about the process of starting from the basic standard shapes found in all beads and working into more complex patterns.

To me, recreating a historical bead includes all of the elements of that bead. To get a likeness to the original you have to make it like the original. If it is a perfect historical bead, then you make it like it is. If it is imperfect, you make it like it is.

I ran across one bead in the challenge that stumped me for about a week. It would have been simple to recreate IF the base was opaque but in fact the base was a light transparent blue-green and it had an interesting squiggle pattern of red-brown and white stripes decorating the surface. It should have been easy to make; this was not the case.  Here are a few photos of my sketches and bead failures in the process of figuring out how to make this bead.

Original drawing I had to go by to create bead.



Try #1: Overlaying the glass decoration and using a pick to pull the design to the edges.  Outcome:  not what I was looking for.


Try #2:Using the striped cane and a pick to pull the design to the edges.  Outcome:  Still not there.


Try #3: Drawing the pattern on the glass with red-brown stringer and then adding the white stringer. Outcome: This was close but not quite the same as the example.


Thought Sketch for Try #3


Striped stringer I made for Try #2 in one attempt to recreate bead design.


Another Thought Sketch:  The round dots are using the same color of transparent blue-green glass as a guide to draw in the design. One melted flat they disappear into the bead and are unseen. This worked but this is probably a modern idea of how to do it. Of course we don’t really know. So. It is a possibility that would work.  The second drawing Adding extra glass to the edges. It did not work. The Third drawing the arrows show the direction to use a tool to pull the glass off of the edge of the bead to hopefully get the correct result. Failed.


More thought sketches:  trying to figure out how to make the bead using dots as guides and figuring out how to lay the glass string down in the correct pattern to get the same look as the original.


A pile of failed attempts that ultimately helped me realize how to make the bead correctly.

Here is the final bead that has the correct likeness. After a week of messing with this bead, a lightbulb went on in my head:  I was so stuck with this bead because I was looking at its recreation in modern terms.  So, I thought to myself, “what if I was making this bead on a small portable bead furnace using bellows and charcoal? How would my process be different?”  So I remade it with that idea in mind:  I put down the white stripe, then layed the red over the top.  The bead would have gotten really hot and melty and shifted as I worked.


Success!: The final bead created with the thought of how it would have been made in period. Over heating the bead allowed the design to move on the surface and melt into this pattern.


I really enjoyed creating the challenge.  I know the people who did participate in the challenge seemed to really love it and their bead making improved from doing it. If it helped just one person then I am happy.

Special thanks to Matt Bunker – you openly give to me when I am challenged with finding information on a particular bead or its research. If you have the resource or knows who does, you send it or them my way.  You been imperative to my process of learning and understanding beads.


Thank you for reading my blog. Stay tuned for more!


The Exquisite Art and History of 16th Century Miniature Portraiture.

Hi there! I am in the process of going through this blog and editing it so it reads better (artist type not a writing type)  but if you want to read it as is please feel free!

I am just getting time to start some new blogs and decided to jump away from historical beads for a bit and introduce you to a huge passion of mine. Miniature portrait art. I worked for many years as a miniature enameled portrait artist for the J.A. Dedouch company based out of Oak Park IL until the company was bought out and production ended forever. Naturally, portraiture in miniature is a big passion and interest of mine.

I have done a bit of research in the past on this subject back when I was painting miniatures full-time but honestly, if you read my blogs on this you are learning about this topic in more depth with me. As I learn more about its history by researching and reading a lot, networking, and processing that information, I will share that with you.

There are several books out there that catalog the miniatures but not very many that go into detail of the time period and history.  With that in mind I am really thankful for one of the books I have called “The Portrait Miniature in England” by Katherine Cooms.  This book came out a few years before I had stopped painting miniatures for a living. The amount of knowledge that is contained in these pages is vast. The other books I have listed at the bottom of this blog are also very wonderful to read and provide a lot of information as well. The book “Portrait Miniatures Artists Functions and Collections” goes into some detail about paint and techniques as well. If you are interested in pursuing this art. I highly recommend all of the books I have listed as they all have information that is on point to creating and learning about this art.  As I find more books an resources I will share them as well.

I also reached out in the SCA as I was in search of a Laurel that does miniature portraiture in period. To be able to communicate with and get feedback on my work. I found the name Countess Enriqueta Isabel de Reyes y Mora OP, OL from The Kingdom of Trimaris. When I reached out I sadly discovered out that she has passed. Her handout she wrote is still available to purchase on Etsy. I am waiting for mine to come in the mail.

Here is the link to that handout booklet.

The complete history of miniature portraiture is very colorful and vast. More than this blog. Miniature portrait art spans centuries. Whether it be watercolor on parchment, oils on copper, or enameled portraits. The portraiture miniatures are still being made by a small handful of artists and religious icon miniatures are still produced to this day.

This blog is about the very beginnings of this art. I am currently painting miniature portraits for lockets using the same techniques as some of my favorite miniature artists did! It is very exciting! My art will be posted on part two of my blog. I wanted to give a little insight and history of this amazing art before I jumped in and started posting my paintings and how they were made as well as the special vocabulary that they had for limning portraits. I hope you enjoy my blog!

“Limning. A thing apart… which exelleth all other painting whatsoever” ~ NICHOLAS HILLIARD- THE ART OF LIMNING (c.1598)

This writing that was written by Nicholas Hilliard talks about two things regarding miniature painting. That What we modernly refer to as miniature portraits were called linmings in England during his time. It also shows that the art od miniature painting was a distinct type of art that was different than other paintings of the time.

The word miniature comes from the Latin “miniare” meaning to color with red lead. It was originally related to book production before the invention of the printing press. In England, the tiny illustrations of sacred books painted in watercolor on vellum, were called illuminations or limnings. Both terms derive from the latin word luminare, meaning to give light. It was not long after this that the term miniature came to express all things which are small, by the size of the limnings as well as a misleading link to the words incorporating the Latin “min” expressing smallness. such as “minor”.

One of the misconseptions of miniature painting was that it was only an English practice. Probably becasue most of the books that have been written on the subject are on the study of English portrait miniatures. In truth, here were many artists  all across Europe who painted miniatures. The first English portrait miniatures painted at the court of Henry VIII (r. 1509-47) was most likely by an artist from the city of Ghent, in what is now Belgium. The first two noble practitioners of the portrait miniature were the German Hans Holbien (1497/8-1543), who worked for Henry VIII and Francis Clouet (1516-72) who worked for the French court.

After Clouet’s death in 1572 no artist with the same talent took his place, although limning continued to be painted in France.  At the same time in England, during the same year that Clouet died, the 25-year-old Nicholas Hilliard had his first sitting with Queen Elisabeth I (r. 1558-1603) and started a very productive miniature painting career lasting over 40 years. Hilliard established limning as a leading and separate art and secured a place for miniature art at the heart of Elizabethan culture.

(Limning) excelleth all other painting whatsoever in sundry points… being fittest for the decking of princes’ bookes.. for the imitation of the purest flowers and most beautiful creatures in the finest and purest colours.. and is for the service of noble persons very meet, in small volumes, in private manner, for them to have the portraits and pictures of themselves, their peers, or any other foreign persons which are of interest of them.


Limning, watercolor painting, was the subject of the first book on painting published in English. It is an anonymously written book that we know simply as Limning (1573) This book, however, was written soley on the subject of book decoration. Nicholas Hilliard’s book  “The Art of Limning” was concerned with the limning of portraits, in small volumes, in private manner. What we today would describe as portrait miniatures. Hilliard was a very innovative artist who raised the public profile of the miniature portrait to a level where Shakespeare used them to plot his devices in his plays and John Donne wrote a poem praising Hilliards work.

“A hand or an eye by Hilliard is worth a history by a worse painter.”  All of this word fame yet Hilliard is not the first person to paint the miniature portrait. The earliest surviving English portrait miniature is of Henry VIII, (see picture below) painted around 1526, almost 50 years before Hilliard painted his first miniature of Elisabeth I. (Coombs 1998)

Can you imagine the impact that the first miniature portrait had? Imagine living in a different visual world where we are not totally inundated with imagery. The printing press was introduced in England in 1453 but early English printed illustrations were rare and very crude compared to other countries.

When Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509 easel painting was also somewhat rare in England. An occasional painting was needed by royalty for marriage negotiations or contracts but on a whole, these were far from what we think of as having a likeness. Portraiture for the most part was confined to tomb sculpture of the super wealthy. Graphic arts, namely painting, drawing and printing, did not have a prominent role in English society until later in the century. (Coombs 1998)

At a time when most artists didn’t sign their work, their names and reputations as an artist have to come to us through other sources. To be able to identify the other artist that was working for Henry VIII before Holbein’s arrival, researchers had to scour all the documents of the time for a name to be the likely artist. This process is not as simple as it seems. Many collections and written documents are scattered and pieced together all over the globe in different collections. Grouping miniature portraits together by artists are done by comparing each miniature and looking for a similar painting style and techniques. “Style” is assessed by comparing the way each portrait is created and searching for what the portraits have in common, such as how the artist paints backgrounds, jewelry, lace, apparel even the way an eye or hair is formed.  If common characteristics are found  between the miniature paintings, then the “handwriting” of an artist can be determined. Because of this process we know about Lucas Hornbolte and the miniatures dating from the early part of  King Henry VIII reign. (Coombs 1998)


Plate 4 Lucas Hornbolte, attributed to Henry VIII, c. 1524-6.  Watercolor on vellum (53x48mm) This portrait portrays the king in his mid 30’s: in other versions he is shown with the beard that he grew in competition with Francis I of France. This miniature is the lynch pin of arguments identifying Lucas Hornbolte as the first painter of miniatures in England. (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, PD/ 19-1949 From The Portrait miniature in England, Katherine Cooms.

In 1948 the painting of Henry VIII was contributed to Lucas Hornbolte. The first clue was an early account that Hans Holbein, written in 1604 stated that Holbein was taught limning by “Master Lucas”. As more evidence appeared about an artist called Lucas Hornbolte, the possibility that “Master Lucas” was indeed Hornbolte suggested itself.  In 1959 the first payment to Lucas Hornbolte was discovered in Henry VIII chamber accounts for September 1525. Because the inscription on the portrait of Henry VIII has the number 35, which is most likely the age of Henry when the portrait was painted, we know that the miniature dates between June, 1524 Henry’s 34th birthday and June 1526 his 36th birthday.  The appearance of this first portrait and Lucas in the courts of Henry VIII could be coincidence but that has been deemed highly unlikey.

Lucas and his father and sister were all artists that lived in Ghent who came over to live in England in 1525. There is evidence of this in the accounts of Margaret of Austria for limning’s for a Book of Hours, which is now in the British Library. There is no written proof that Hornbolte and his family came to England to work as book limners. In Ghent, before they moved to England, Gerard, Lucas’ father was a master painter who ran a workshop which created a wide variety of work. In Henry’s written accounts Lucas is described as a “pictor maker” not a limner in contrast to another artist, Richard James, who is described as a “limner of Bookes”. Though some shadow of doubt can be cast around the name Lucas Hornbolte, there is much circumstantial evidence that can not be overlooked.

A possible link from text to portrait miniatures

For many centuries the art of limning was practiced in monasteries to create beautiful hand written books. By the late middle ages wealthy individuals commissioned limners to produce texts for their own private use or to give as a gift to a church.  These texts often included a portrait of an institutions patron Saint. This new demand for painted text led to the creation of independent workshops.  The separation of limning and books also seems to happen with the development of the printing press. This made books simpler to produce and the hand written texts kept as a luxury item. Some time after, workshops began to produce painted panels and wall hangings and the competition for work became fierce.

We also have this illustration from a Flemish artist from the Book of Hours showing a painting of a pendant of a miniature portrait of Christ from the 15th century.  No portrait like images of Saints set in this way exist today, but there are pendants from Spain and Italy were limned religious scenes are protected under slivers of rock crystal. (Coombs 1998)


Anonymous Flemish artist, detail of the decorative border from the Book of Hours showing a pendant containing a miniature of Christ, 15th Century. Watercolor on Vellum. This illumination indicated that the use of limning to create small images in a jewel like setting possibly originated with small devotional images. From The Portrait miniature in England, Katherine Cooms.

Coins, Medals, Medallions and Cameos

There are three other traditions in this history that could suggest portraiture. There is the use of images on coins, medals and medallions, as well as the carved cameo. Most medallions and medals were heavy and placed in cabinets on display. They were probably not worn all the time. Coins were used for currency. The cameos were carved in relief and were usually made of semi precious stone. The cameo was also much smaller and jewel like which could suggest the desirability to wear it as a portraiture.

During the renaissance, the reawakening of human individuality and character which reached its highest expression in the portraits of Raphael, Antondello de Messina and Titian also reflected on images in a much smaller scale. These carved stone cameos and intaligos, portrait medals and miniatures painted on Vellum served various purposes. To glorify heads of State, to give as gifts as private tokens of love and friendship, as well as a symbol of wealth and power or allegiance to a peer. Whether hidden or openly displayed, they were worn as jewels and therefore were mounted in gold and gem encrusted frames.

The revival of the ancient art of gem engraving in relief as cameos or intaligos began in 15th century Italy where so many gems were being unearthed from Roman sites. These discoveries, as well as our humanist admiration for classical culture, created an emergence of new gem engravers not only in Rome but in Florence, Milan, Verona, and Padua. Soon this revived art attracted many others and the cameo became what it was in antiquity, portraits of people of power, wealth and influence. (2018) Bernd and Juliane Schmieglitz)


Gold Gnadenpfenning of Magdalena Sibylla of Saxony (1587-1639) bordered by ten shields of arms, suspended from three chains meeting at an armorial cartouche crowned by an electoral bonnet and hung with three pearl drops. Medal by Daniel Kellerthaler (1600-1656) and setting by Abraham Schwedler (active 1612-47) Dresden, 1611- the year of the ascension of Magdalena Sibylla’s husband, John Georg I, as elector. 111x53mm


Pendant with an onyx bust of Philip II, King of Spain (1527-98) The cameo is set in a gold frame with eight table cut diamonds alternating with raised quatrefoil and a pearl drop. Cameo, Italian. from the circle of Jacopo da Trezzo (c. 1515-89) setting in Spanish, c. 1560. 47mmx31mm


Sardonyx cameo bust of Philip II in armor, within a border outlined in black, the top and base marked by green leaves Cameo and settings c.1550-75 33x28mm


Three views of the Gresley Jewel. A gold locket with pearls containing miniatures of Sir Thomas Gresley (1522-1601) and his wife, Katherine Walsingham (1559-85) The pedimented cover is set with a sardonyx cameo of a black woman, veiled,  an enameled frame embellished with rubies and emeralds, flanked by half figures of black boys emerging from cornucopia and firing arrows. The back is enameled with symmetrical ornament. Miniature portraits by Nicholas Hilliard and setting c.1574, the date of their Marriage. Height 69mm


Three views of the Greasley Jewel. A gold locket with pearls containing miniatures of Sir Thomas Gresley (1522-1601) and his wife, Katherine Walsingham (1559-85) The pedimented cover is set with a sardonyx cameo of a black woman, veiled,  an enameled frame embellished with rubies and emeralds, flanked by half figures of black boys emerging from cornucopia and firing arrows. The back is enameled with symmetrical ornament. Miniature portraits by Nicholas Hilliard and setting c.1574, the date of their Marriage. Height 69mm


Three views of the Greasley Jewel. A gold locket with pearls containing miniatures of Sir Thomas Gresley (1522-1601) and his wife, Katherine Walsingham (1559-85) The pedimented cover is set with a sardonyx cameo of a black woman, veiled,  an enameled frame embellished with rubies and emeralds, flanked by half figures of black boys emerging from cornucopia and firing arrows. The back is enameled with symmetrical ornament. Miniature portraits by Nicholas Hilliard and setting c.1574, the date of their Marriage. Height 69mm

Miniature Portrait Art Examples

Portrait miniatures first appeared in the early 1500’s in the French and English Courts. Much like medals, they were portable, but had realistic color, unlike the Cameos. The earliest examples were painted by two men from the Netherlands. They are Jean Clouet in France  and Lucas Hornbolte in England.  Following them was Hans Holbein the Younger who it is thought learned the art from Hornbolte. Not to be left out is Levina Teerlinc , a Flemish born female artist whom many scholars believe taught Hilliard the art of limning. Nicholas Hilliard is known for painting Queen Elisabeth I . Lastly there is Francois Clouet the Younger, Jean Clouet’s son. There were several other miniature portrait artists as well, but I chose these because of their impact on the art form, and by how much their art inspires me.

Jean Clouet 1475 / 85-1541

The life of this portraitist is very poorly known. The available information comes from royal accounts and various documents of a legal nature (notarial deeds) or of civil status (parish registers). Jean (Janet or Jehannet) Clouet was probably born in Brussels between 1475 and 1485. He comes from a family of painters: His grandfather is the painter and illuminator Simon Marmion (1425-1489). His brother, Polet or Paulet, was a painter at the court of Navarre.

The details of his training is unknown but it is obviously familiar with Flemish painting of the 15 th century. Most historians believe that upon his arrival in France, he entered directly in the service of Francis I  (1494-1547). Indeed, there is no work of Clouet previous to the reign of this king, who reaches the throne of France in 1515.

Jean Clouet is regularly mentioned in the records of the royal accounts for twenty years after the coronation of Francis I st . While his main role is to be the portraitist of the royal family, he initially occupied the official function of valet wardrobe, allowing him to be paid. Then the king creates the category of painters to which the artist is attached.



Jean Clouet. Portrait of Francis I st (1525-1530) Oil on wood, 96 × 74 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris.


Jean Clouet. Portrait of Jean de Dinteville, Lord of Polisy (v. 1533) Paper, black and bloodstone, 25 × 19 cm, musée Condé, Chantilly.

Lucas HornebolteLucas Horenbout

Often called Hornebolte in England (c.1490/1495–1544), was a Flemish artist who moved to England in the mid-1520s and worked there as “King’s Painter” and court miniaturist to King Henry VIII from 1525 until his death. He was trained in the final phase of Netherlandish illuminated manuscript painting, in which his father Gerard was an important figure, and was the founding painter of the long and distinct English tradition of portrait miniature painting.


Lucas Hornebolte. The Emperor Charles V. c. 1525 Watercolor on Vellum (dia. 42mm) Charles V was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon and undoubtedly made her a gift of his portrait. The oil, of which the portrait is a copy was listed in Henry VIII’s 1542 inventory and is still in the Royal collection today.

Hans Holbein the Younger 

(German: Hans Holbein der Jüngerec. 1497 – between 7 October and 29 November 1543) was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style, known as one of the greatest portraitist of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and he made a significant contribution to the history of book design. He is called “the Younger” to distinguish him from his father Hans Holbein the Elder, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school.

Holbein was born in Augsburg, but he worked mainly in Basel as a young artist. At first, he painted murals and religious works, designed stained glass windows, and printed books. He also painted an occasional portrait, making his international mark with portraits of humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. When the Reformation reached Basel, Holbein worked for reformist clients while continuing to serve traditional religious patrons. His Late Gothic style was enriched by artistic trends in Italy, France, and the Netherlands, as well as by Renaissance humanism. The result was a combined aesthetic uniquely his own.

Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. He returned to Basel for four years, then resumed his career in England in 1532 under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King’s Painter to Henry VIII of England. In this role, he produced portraits and festive decorations, as well as designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the Church of England.


Anne of Cleves. Miniature by Hans Holbein 1539. Watercolor on vellum with turned ivory base and lid. (dia. 44.5mm)


Artist, Hans Holbein, Mrs. Jane Small, formerly known as a portrait of Mrs. Robert Pemberton. c. 1540 watercolor on vellum. (dia. 52mm) later frame. The wife of a rich London merchant, Jane Small lived in the same parish as the steelyard merchants. Holbein had painted  this before he was employed by the King.

François Clouet

(c. 1510 – 22 December 1572), son of Jean Clouet, was a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.


Gold locket and miniature of Catherine de Medicis, Dowager, Queen of France, in her widow’s weeds. miniature attributed to Francois Clouet the Younger. 1572

Levina Teerlinc

(1510s – 23 June 1576) was a Flemish Renaissance miniaturist who served as a painter to the English court of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. She was the most important miniaturist at the English court between Hans Holbein the Younger and Nicholas Hilliard. Her father, Simon Bening was a renowned book illuminator and miniature painter of the Ghent-Bruges school and probably trained her as a manuscript painter. She may have worked in her father’s workshop before her marriage.


Portrait of Elizabeth I by Levina Teerlinc, c. 1565

Nicholas Hilliard

c. 1547 – 7 January 1619) was an English goldsmith and limner best known for his portrait miniatures of members of the courts of Elizabeth I and James I of England. He mostly painted small oval miniatures, but also some larger cabinet miniatures, up to about ten inches tall, and at least two famous half-length panel portraits of Elizabeth. He enjoyed continuing success as an artist, and continuing financial troubles, for forty-five years. His paintings still exemplify the visual image of Elizabethan England, very different from that of most of Europe in the late sixteenth century. Technically he was very conservative by European standards, but his paintings are superbly executed and have a freshness and charm that has ensured his continuing reputation as “the central artistic figure of the Elizabethan age, the only English painter whose work reflects, in its delicate microcosm, the world of Shakespeare’s earlier plays.


Inside of The Drake Jewel. The locket encloses miniatures of Queen Elisabeth- surrounded by a ruby border and her emblem, the phoenix. The cover is set with a sardonyx cameo of a black ruler and his consort, within an enamelled and chased gold frame embellished with table-cut rubies and diamonds and hung with pearls. The jewel was presented by the Queen to Sir Francis Drake. Miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard. 1588. Setting contemporary. Height is 117mm


The Drake Jewel. The locket encloses miniatures of Queen Elisabeth- surrounded by a ruby border and her emblem, the phoenix. The cover is set with a sardonyx cameo of a black ruler and his consort, within an enamelled and chased gold frame embellished with table-cut rubies and diamonds and hung with pearls. The jewel was presented by the Queen to Sir Francis Drake. Miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard. 1588. Setting contemporary. Height is 117mm


Three views of a case and the miniature that it encloses of Queen Elisabeth as Stella Britannis, the star of Britain. The openwork cover is set with table-cut diamonds centered on a star. the back is enameled black with multicolored symmetrical ornament of leaves and dolphins. Miniature by Nicholas Hilliard. c. 1600: setting contemporary. 64x48mm


Three views of a case and the miniature that it encloses of Queen Elisabeth as Stella Britannis, the star of Britain. The openwork cover is set with table-cut diamonds centered on a star. the back is enameled black with multicolored symmetrical ornament of leaves and dolphins. Miniature by Nicholas Hilliard. c. 1600: setting contemporary. 64x48mm


Three views of a case and the miniature that it encloses of Queen Elisabeth as Stella Britannis, the star of Britain. The openwork cover is set with table-cut diamonds centered on a star. the back is enameled black with multicolored symmetrical ornament of leaves and dolphins. Miniature by Nicholas Hilliard. c. 1600: setting contemporary. 64x48mm


Two views of an enameled gold case enclosing a miniature of Queen Anne (d. 1608) Wife of James I of England and Ireland and Scotland, presented to her by Lady Anne Livingston, Countess of Eglington. The front cover has the diamond cipher CAR flanked by fermesses, between a royal crown and double Cs, with four diamonds in quatrefoil settings. Miniature from the circle of Nicolas Hilliard. 1610 Setting by George Heriot (1573-1623) of Edinburgh.           Height 76mm


Two views of an enameled gold case enclosing a miniature of Queen Anne (d. 1608) Wife of James I of England and Ireland and Scotland, presented to her by Lady Anne Livingston, Countess of Eglington. The front cover has the diamond cipher CAR flanked by fermesses, between a royal crown and double Cs, with four diamonds in quatrefoil settings. Miniature from the circle of Nicolas Hilliard. 1610 Setting by George Heriot (1573-1623) of Edinburgh.           Height 76mm


Pendant enclosing a miniature of George, 3rd Earl of Cumberland ( 1558-1605), within a black and white zig zag border, edged with three pearls. The back is patterned with gold interlaced strapwork with blue details on a gold background. Miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, 1589. setting contemporary c. 47x38mm


Pendant enclosing a miniature of George, 3rd Earl of Cumberland ( 1558-1605), within a black and white zig zag border, edged with three pearls. The back is patterned with gold interlaced strapwork with blue details on a gold background. Miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, 1589. setting contemporary c. 47x38mm

Sources of Information and photographs

Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide (1987)Daphne Foskett

British Portrait Miniatures (1968) Daphne Foskett

British Portrait Miniatures: The Cleveland Museum of Art  (2013) Cory Korkow

Portrait Jewels Opulence and Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs (2011)  Diana Scarisbrick

The Portrait Miniature in England (1998) Catherine Coombs

Portrait Miniatures Artists, Functions and Collections  The Tansey miniatures foundation (2018) Bernd and Juliane Schmieglitz

Please stay tuned for part two.

The tools, techniques and paint used to create miniature portraits on Vellum as well as a blog on my miniature portrait recreations!


Ancient Iron Age Britain~ Reproductions of a bead found at Swallowcliffe down, Wiltshire. Dated 501 B.C – 99 AD

I have always had a passion for the mystic cobalt blue eye beads. These beads have been found in multiple areas such as Queen’s Barrow, Wetwang Slack, Meare Lake Village, and Swallowcliffe Down.  All the beads from the burials listed are Iron age beads. (Dress and Identity in Iron Age Britain/ Elizabeth M. Foulds P. 266-267)

The beads are made of a base of opaque cobalt blue glass with the eye shape of white opaque glass and cobalt blue overlay.  They vary in size and the patterns are not completely symmetrical.

Here is a photo of the original bead found at Swallowcliffe Down.

eye bead artsand culture


Here are my reproductions.


Iron age cobalt eye bead reproductions by Dena Cowlishaw


Check back soon for more historical bead reproductions!





Progress in my historical bead making life…An amazing opportunity knocked on my door!

Two Weeks ago, I was participating at a living history demo with the Northwest Viking Alliance. The Northwest Viking Alliance is an Alliance of many Living history groups in WA State, Oregon, Idaho and Southern British Columbia. My husband and I founded the group 6 years ago to further authenticity, create better demos for the public and  promote reenactment and experimental archaeology in the region. We are now a 501C3 and lovingly share responsibility with several group Jarls and group Elders.

The demo was at The New Nordic Heritage Museum and I have participated for several years. It is organized by Alan Andrist and is by invitation only.  I was demoing as I always do making period Viking Age lamp work beads. This year I was able to actually make beads instead of just having a display. It was wonderful. It was quite warm out, over 90 degrees and it was even warmer being next to fire. I was literally a hot mess. While I was making beads,  I got into some very engaging conversations about beads with the public. I love demos. You never know who you are talking to so it is utterly important to be very knowledgeable of what you are displaying.

One of the people that stopped by to talk beads was Adam L. Allan-Spencer who works at the Museum. After talking a bit he handed me a business card and said that he was interested in talking to me about about possibly making authentic reproduction glass beads for the Museum store. He wanted them to sell during the new big Exhibit called “The Vikings Begin” opens October 20th, 2018. As well as the bead singles he wanted to commission a few reproductions of bead items that will be in the exhibit to have available in the store as well. Adam had been doing quite a bit of research into historical bead makers and decided to ask me because “my work is fantastic and I am local and I demo there every year.” We exchanged information and the following week made contact and worked out all of the details. So now I am in the process of making 200 beads for the Museum store and 2  reproduction pieces. More to be made if needed.

Description of exhibit:

Based on the latest research conducted on both historic and recent discoveries of Viking-era artifacts by Uppsala University in Sweden, The Vikings Begin tells the story of the Vikings of early Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway)—an intensely maritime society with a very close and important relationship to the sea. Uppsala University’s museum, Gustavianum, has produced this exhibition of original artifacts, reconstructions, and archaeological discoveries from early Viking age society using cutting-edge research done by Uppsala professor Neil Price and his team. These objects tell the story not only of the person buried with them, but also of the world they inhabited: its social and economic makeup, its worldview, and its symbolism.


This is a very exciting opportunity for me. I am fairly well known for my modern glass pieces but in comparison only a few people that are not in the reenactment community know me for my historical bead work and research. Historical beads are my utter passion.

The museum is featuring my work in a store display naming me the artist and my contact information will be displayed as well.  This entire opportunity is huge to me.  I have had my work in museum displays before and at Pacific Lutheran University but nothing compares to having my work featured for such an incredible exhibition. One that the research was done by my hero. Neil Price. It is utterly a dream come true.

Next week I start the work of manufacturing the beads. Unfortunately, I can not show what I am making or have made until after the exhibition opening.  So.. It will be a secret for now. I am both challenged and highly honored to have this opportunity. The only thing that would make it better is if Neil Price was at the opening of the exhibition and I could say hello.

Anyway.. Here is the link to the Museum exhibit. It is going to be so great!

UPDATE! Here are the pieces that I made for the museum!

Beads from Various Valsgärde graves!


Reproduction bead From Valsgärde. made by Maricka Sigrunsdotter. Sunna Glassworks


Replica of Valsgärde bracelet for Nordic Heritage Museum Store. in Ballard WA Lamp worded beads, Stone and Amber. Modern silver clasp added so it can be worn. Bracelet created by Maricka Sigrunsdotter. Sunna Glassworks.


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Original From The Vikings begin Exhibit.


200 single historical bead reproductions from Western Europe and Scandinavia from Iron age through Viking Age. Made by Maricka Sigrunsdotter, Sunna Glassworks

Early Medieval Irish Glass Beads~ Recreating 6th-7th Century Spiral bead found in Newtownbalregen.

This is a reproduction of a bead found in Newtownbalregan.  During the M1 Dundalk Western bypass project. The bead was found in a Ring fort 2km northwest of Dundalk in advance of the construction of the Dundalk western bypass. The previously unknown site was discovered while doing a test trench by the IAC in March 2002 and excavation was completed between March and September 2003. The complete final report on the dig can be found here in a doc format.

Illustration of ring Fort in Newtownbalregan where the bead was found.



You can find more information on the archaeological site here:

Photo of the original bead on display at the county museum, Dundalk.

bead newt

My reproduction of the bead below.


A description of the bead from Glass beads of Early Medieval Ireland by Mags Minion is as follows:

Spiral marvered  decorated yellow beads.

Classified as a class 7 bead in book. They are normally spherical in shape and the spiral form marvered flush with the surface. The body is usually translucent yellow in color, with the decoration applied being an opaque yellow. The surface of the bead can be decorated with either two or three spirals, evenly distributed around the circumference, and interlinked on account of the fact that the decoration is applied in a continuous line. Not withstanding that they are found on early medieval sites, stratified and associated with other datable material. (p 25)


Glass bead reproductions from Early Medieval Ireland ~The Mulberry bead

Recently I purchased a very amazing book called Glass Beads from Early Medieval Ireland by Mags Minion. If you make historical beads, I recommend this book. It was designed for historical bead makers for sure. I loved this book so much I am doing a category in my blog on these beads. As I reproduce them, I will post the bead, my reproduction and its relevant information.

This photo shows a picture of the original bead from page 23 of this book. The second and third beads are photos of my glass reproduction.

I had never seen a historical example of this bead before getting this book.  When I first saw it my first though was “Well that bead maker was creative!”




The Mulberry bead

The beads in Mags Minion;s book:  Glass Beads from Early Medieval Ireland are classified though type. This bead is a type 12 bead. The following paragraph is from page 28 regarding  this bead type.

“Class 12 beads are so-called because the surface of the bead is covered with raised segments resembling a mulberry. The beads conform to a standard size or a diameter of 10mm, a length of 9mm and a perforation of 3-4mm. Mulberry beads  can be composed of clear translucent glass or semi translucent glass in a variety of shades. An example is known from Lagore (Hencken, 1950 145 figure 67 B). There are numerous examples of class 12 beads in a variety of colors among unprovenance examples in the National Museum. A class 12 bead was found during the excavation of the early medieval enclosure at Lissue in Co. Antrim (Bersu 1947, 51: Warner 1986-87).  Finds from the site including a wooden churn and lathe turned vessels  have been typologically dated to the 9th century.(Sullivan et al 2010 58). A ‘trial piece’  with interlace decoration was also found during the excavation (Bersu 1947,51). four beads of this type were subjected to chemical analysis and returned 8th to 12th century date (Warner and Meighan 1994, 52-66) Given the  the available dating evidence it is most likely the type dates to the later end of the period under study and may possible even continue after it. “

Reproducing 18th Dynasty Glass Egyptian Pomegranate Ear Pendants, Searching for how glass was made, and discovering possible cultural symbolism in the process.

When I first started out on this project, I was very excited. As a glass artist studying mainly later period Viking age beads, I realized very quickly that for me to be more knowledgeable about glass and beads in my preferred time period, it was necessary to leap further back in time and look deeper into this history of glass. Who invented it? Who was making what and when? What techniques were used? Was glass that different then from now? All of these questions were running through my head. How was I to really understand glass in Scandinavia in the Iron age and in the Viking age if I didn’t have an understanding of the history of glass? I started researching glass production in Egypt and Mesopotamia. There are archaeological records of the earliest glass beads and glass manufacturing in these areas. We know from history that the Romans learned glass manufacturing and bead making through these resources. Roman glass production of beads and vessels made it to Scandinavia through trade and glass bead making appears in Scandinavia in the Iron age with more physical evidence of production during the Viking Age. So in my mind, they are all interconnected in a long and vast timeline.

I started looking online for various glass pieces that I could reproduce. The first items I created were 18th Dynasty Glass Egyptian ear plugs.  Finding any information on them was very challenging. I found a blog post from the British Museum that had some information on them but also gave me insight as to why I could not find any documentation on any small Egyptian glass items. “Unfortunately, there is no pictorial, nor three-dimensional evidence, for how these objects were worn, nor do the archaeological contexts tell us much about their use. Most have been found individually, rather than in pairs, and those that appear on the art market and in private collections are usually without provenance (i.e. information about the context in which they were originally excavated or found).” I am as well finding this true as well for the pomegranate pendants.

From the ear plug project I wanted to look further into Egyptian ear jewelry to recreate. I did a google search on Egyptian earrings. Of course I got a bunch of Pinterest hits but nothing that had any links to anything with descriptions or anything that would be really helpful. Then I found pictures of a  blue and yellow pomegranate ear pendant as well as a black and yellow pomegranate pendant. It had a link to the British Museum Archive. Overjoyed, I clicked on the link and this is what I saw.

bm ear pendants.JPG

Here is the descriptions of pendants.

Pendant 1: Pomegranate pendant: from a heavy loop in opaque turquoise-blue glass a pomegranate, inverted, is pendent. It is of the same glass as the loop; glossy surface. A yellow thread encircles the centre of the body and outlines the foliations which are so typical of this fruit. Once worn from wires through the ear-lobe. Height: 2.3 millimetres Diameter: 1.15 centimetres (of bulb)Height: 0.6 centimetres (of foliations)

Pendant 2: Pomegranate pendant: From a heavy loop in opaque black glass a pomegranate, inverted, is pendent. It is of the same glass as the loop, glossy surface. A thick yellow thread encircles the body in a dog-tooth pattern. Materials: Glass. Height: 2.06 centimetres Diameter: 1.62 centimetres Diameter: 1.6 centimetres (base)

My Glass Reproduction examples of the Pendants

First row are my reproduction examples compared to the bottom row of the Museum original Pieces.

pendants mine and samples

Four photos of my replicas.






The history of  Glass and in Ancient Egypt and how it was made.

In the 18th dynasty in Egypt, something amazing happened in the world of glass. The oldest known remnants of glass come from an archaeological site in Mesopotamia. The shards are 3,500 years old, and many experts assumed that this site was the source of fancy glass items found in ancient Egypt.

Chemical studies of the remains suggest how the Egyptians made their glass, the researchers say. First, the ancient glass makers crushed quartz pebbles together with the ashes of burnt plants. Next, they heated this mixture at low temperatures in small clay jars to turn it into a glassy blob. Then, they ground the material into powder before cleaning it and using metal-containing chemicals to color it red or blue.

In the second part of the process, the glass workers poured this refined powder through clay funnels into ceramic containers. They heated the powder to high temperatures. After it cooled, they broke the containers and removed solid disks of glass.

Egyptian glass makers probably sold and shipped their glass to workshops throughout the Mediterranean. Artisans could then reheat the material and shape it into beads, vessels and various glass objects.

The new evidence, uncovered in an Egyptian village named Qantir, however, shows that an ancient glass making factory had operated there. Artifacts from Qantir include pottery containers holding glass chunks, along with other traces of the glass making process.

This map shows the Egyptian village Qantir, where a glass factory was located, and trade routes that would have carried glass from the Nile Delta to other parts of the Mediterranean.

egyptian glass site

Prior to this time period, the ancient Egyptians were making fake stones, vessels and amulets using a technique called Egyptian faience. (Egyptian faience is a non-clay based ceramic composed of crushed quartz or sand, with small amounts of calcite lime and a mixture of alkali’s. It is poured into molds cold and then heated to melt and solidify.)

Ancient Egyptian faience cup from 1550-1292 BC

tuts tomb fience

Glass in Ancient Egypt:

Glass is a material made by melting together three primary ingredients. Sand (silicon dioxide) which forms its basic structure; an Alkali oxide, which lowers the melting temperature; and lime, which stabilizes the mixture and makes it less soluable in water.

The raw materials used in Ancient Egypt:

Pure silica has a melting point of 1700°C. Adding a flux reduces this to less than 1000°C, a temperature achievable with the help of bellows (a device with an air bag that emits a stream of air when squeezed together with two handles, used for blowing air into a fire.) which came into widespread use during the New Kingdom. Ancient glass was a mixture of the major constituent part, silica, i.e. quartz desert sand. (About half of the sand near Akhetaten, for instance, was made up quartz, about a third was calcite, the rest was feldspar, pyrosenes and small amounts of illmenite.) alkali, mostly from plant ash during the New Kingdom and often trona (natron) from Wadi Natrun or Beheira during the Graeco Roman period or more rarely potassium oxide, as flux,calcium oxide from limestone as a stabilizer, coloring agents. These were naturally occurring impurities or metal oxides added on purpose. The much coveted blue-tinted glass was made by adding cobalt. Yellow was the result of using iron and antimony, turquoise of copper or purple of manganese. Clear, almost colorless glass could be made by adding decoloring agents such as manganese oxide (MnO) as was done by the Romans. Lead (as early as the 15th century BCE, but much more common in Roman time.

Chart of Glass components from:

glass chart

After recreating the pendants, I was holding one in my hand and looking at it when I started to have more questions about the glass piece. Why a pomegranate? Why these colors? Was it the glass makers personal creative choice? Or.. Was there a possible deeper meaning to these unique ear pendants?

I proceeded to research pomegranates. When did they come to Egypt?  Was there any symbolism behind the fruit to them? What I discovered was incredible to me.

The Symbolism of the Pomegranate in Ancient Egypt:

Historical Perspective:

Most scholars believe that the pomegranate tree originated in Iran and the Himalayas of northern India. Early archaeological excavations demonstrated that the pomegranate was one of the earliest cultivated trees. Pomegranates were present in the Sumer Kingdom between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as early as 4000 B.C. Pomegranate seeds were found in Early Bronze Age (3300 – 3000 B.C.) levels of Jericho in Canaan. Probably early traders who traversed the desert carried pomegranates. Besides being a trade item, the leathery skin of the pomegranate provided a long storage life;thus, the pomegranate could be used as a source of water and food on long treks. Around 1600 B.C. the pomegranate was introduced into Egypt where it was valued as a source of food and water and a red dye for leather. The pomegranate was found on walls of Egyptian tombs where it symbolized life after death. Pomegranate trees were plentiful in Canaan when the Israelite’s entered the land about 1406 B.C. (Deuteronomy 8: 8). The Canaan/ancient Israel pomegranate tree may have been substantially larger than the tree of today. I Samuel 14:2 records that King Saul (1050 – 1010 B.C.) camped on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree. King Solomon (970 – 930 B.C.) placed 200 bronze pomegranates around the top of each of the two bronze columns located at the entrance to the first temple (called Solomon’s temple). Around 700 B.C. Romans named the pomegranate Punicum malum or Phoenician apple because Phoenician ships carried the pomegranate throughout Mediterranean Sea countries. Carl Linnaeus (the father of Taxonomy) gave the pomegranate the botanical name of Punica granatum (1735 A.D.), or seeded apple.


The pomegranate has had deep symbolic meaning throughout the ages. In many cultures, e.g. Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, the pomegranate is a symbol of human fertility, procreation, life as well as life after death. Another example is in Song of Songs (song of Solomon) the pomegranate is mentioned several times and it usually symbolic of human fertility. The pomegranates positioned on the hem of the chief priest’s robe most likely had a more spiritual context. The Hebrew word for pomegranate tree and fruit is rimmôwn or rimmôn derived from the root râman which means to exalt, or lift or get(oneself) up, or to mount up.

After I found this information I wanted to find out if there was any meaning to the use of colors to the Ancient Egyptians. What I discovered was that there was significant symbolism to the use of color.

The Symbolism of colors in ancient Egypt:

The ancient Egyptians used six basic colors in varying shades of white, black, red, yellow, blue and green. All of the colors had specific meaning and significance to them. This symbolism was used in their art as well as textiles.

Color meanings:

RED: To the ancient Egyptians the color red symbolized life, fire and victory and was also used to convey anger, hostility and chaos. The color red was deemed to be a powerful color because of its association with blood. The jasper stone symbolized the goddess Isis and was used to make the magic amulet or talisman called the Knot of Isis. The color red invoked the protective power of the blood of Isis.The symbolic scarab Talisman and Amulets often featured red stones and was placed in the heart cavity of mummies as a form of protection.

BLUE: To the ancient Egyptians the color blue symbolized the Sky, Water, the Heavens, Primeval Flood, Creation and Rebirth. The color blue is also associated with birth and rebirth because the annual inundation (flooding) of the River Nile brought fertility to the land. River gods such as Hapi were depicted with blue skin. Blue was often paired with gold in Egyptian royal regalia and jewelry such as the crook and flail, the royal symbols of authority.

GREEN: The Egyptian name for green was ‘wadj’ which also meant “to flourish”. The color green symbolized Fertility, Vegetation, New life, Joy, Growth and Regeneration. The papyrus plant symbolized fresh vegetation, vigor and regeneration to the ancient Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian papyrus lucky days were written in green ink. The green Feldspar stone was a symbol of fertility and was popular with theancient Egyptians as it was believed to bring good luck to the wearer.

YELLOW: To the ancient Egyptians the color yellow symbolized items that were Imperishable, eternal and indestructible. Any objects portrayed as yellow in ancient Egyptian art carried all of these meanings. Gold represented the flesh of the gods. Amber symbolized the sun and a protective amulet with the meanings of power of strength and harmony.

BLACK: To the ancient Egyptians the color black symbolized death, the night and the Afterlife, endurance and stability. The jackal-headed Anubis the god of the dead, tombs and embalming was depicted with a black head reflecting the meaning of death. Black was also associated with fertility and regeneration of the land.

WHITE: To the ancient Egyptians the color white symbolized Purity, Power, Cleanliness and Simplicity. The clothing of the priests was predominantly white symbolizing purity, even their sandals were white. Pearls were symbolic of purity and innocence and were once believed to be the tears of gods. The color white was also a symbol of Upper Egypt.

My Thoughts:

Based on the Ancient Egyptian color meanings, the pendants could have various other meanings and symbolism based on color selection.

Is the Pomegranate earring pendant with only decorative aspects or is it also an amulet with special meaning?

Pendant: Any object that hangs from an earring or a chain is a pendant.

Amulet: An ornament or small piece of jewelry thought to give protection against evil, danger, or disease. (charm, talisman, totem…)

After researching into the meaning of the pomegranate and the symbolism of colors, it is possible that the pomegranate pendant was not only a decorative ear pendant but an amulet that symbolized fertility. The glass pomegranate ear pendant examples that I have reproduced is most likely a fertility symbol. The blue could have represented birth and rebirth and the yellow could have meant eternal life or a gift from the gods enduring forever. It could also represent the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. It could have meant a lot more to the wearer than a just piece of pretty shiny glass and had deep symbolic meaning. The Black and yellow pomegranate pendant also being a fertility symbol as well as life after death has a possible deeper meaning as well. The pendant has a black base which could have signified a loss of a child or it could have been the color for the fertility of the land. The yellow pattern around the black could symbolize eternal life with the gods or it could have been for protection from the gods. Imperishable, eternal and indestructible.

What started out for me to be an interest in just making the reproduction and having a better understanding on the history of glass, clearly blossomed into so much more than I could have imagined. This glass piece is beautiful as a piece of  ear jewelry but it is potentially so much more.  Scientifically, I can truly only look at the evidence that we have on this piece to what it is but it is a nice thought to think that it possibly meant more to this amazing culture and wasn’t just an earring. It is possibly deep rooted in the mystery, magic, and incredible culture of the Nile.

I hope that you enjoyed my blog post. Please check back often as I will be adding more projects soon!




Ancient Glass: A recent project. 18th Dynasty Glass Egyptian Ear Tunnels.

The link has my PDF on this glass reproduction project. These historical samples that I have used to reproduce my ear tunnels are from museum collections.

In the late 18th century and early 19th century it was a common practice for people to find artifacts and keep them or sell them at markets. Never documenting the find. These artifacts make it into private collections and eventually come to rest at a museum for documentation and display.  Unfortunately a lot of these small glass items fall into this category.

With that in mind, I can not provide any grave information or any more information besides the sizes, dates, colors and general region that they were found without making assumptions. We can however look at these pieces for their visual beauty, and craftsmanship and being a part of Ancient Egyptian jewelry.

Recreating them for myself allows me to feel and touch a piece of history and gives me a way to allow others to do so as well.  I will continue to search for more historical information on these small reproductions and will update if that research is found.

glass Egyptian ear tunnel paper