Do you ever get a notion in your head that you can't get rid of? An idea that niggles and bugs, whispering "Try me! Try me!" in the back of your head? I want to build a small glass furnace. Really small. A little, knee high Viking style glass furnace, fired by hardwood charcoal and a bellows. I want to try making beads the way my great-great-greats did. Can it be done? I have no idea. Why do I want to do it? I have no idea. Why do people sail around the world alone, or climb mountains? This will be much less dangerous and at the end, I'll have beads!
So in the process of researching Viking era beadmaking, I was coming across all kinds of other interesting archeological finds. The Norse travelled and traded extensively and their "stuff" turns up all over the place. (personally I'd really love to live somewhere where turning over the garden in the spring could yield a hoard of silver!). I looked at wonderful brooches and buckles and amulets, all sorts of fascinating beads, weapons and kitchen utensils, and more. What really caught my eye were these bronze horns:
These are Bronze Age Lur Horns, dating from about 1,000 BCE, so they predate the true Viking period. However they are definitely Norse, and have been found in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Northern Germany and Latvia.
I just think they are the coolest shape ever. I decided I wanted to make something with this amazing 3,000 year old shape.
The actual Lur horns average 2 meters long, which is rather larger than my usual jewelry projects. (!) However I got out the silver clay and some nice chunky 10g fine silver wire and started to experiment. I made thin discs of silver clay, with embedded balls that could later be hammered flat, and a decorative center. I tapered the wires at one end to a soft point, and embedded the other ends into thicker discs of clay. When everbody was nice and dry, I joined the discs together. They spent 2 hours in the kiln and then more time being fiddled with, as they required the perfect curve to the wires to counterbalance the discs. They are heavy, but because they are so well balanced I can't even feel them in my ears! I gave them and inky black patina with a sulfur bath and then a couple of hours in the tumbler. And this is what they look like!
I'm quite pleased with them, I'm going to make more. They weren't what I'd set out to do, but that's half the fun, isn't it?