Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clasping Your Shawl, It's Cold Outside

Recently I've noticed that many beaders and bead-makers also seem to do some sort of stitchwork, either knitting or crochet. It got me thinking about the history of knitted clothing and closures, and how we can combine our art beads with our wearables.

In ancient times, clothing was unstructured. No zippers, snaps or clips, and for a long time no buttons. Drawstrings and pull-ties were often used to secure clothing.

Shawls and loose, unstructured wraps were worn for warmth and secured by a straight, metal shawl or scarf pin. This is a picture of a bronze shawl pin from the late Incan period in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. That's a long time ago!

It was found in the area where elite upperclass women brewed a drink from a pepper tree berry, found in the floor mixed in ash from the boiling fires, so maybe they were lost during the work of creating the brew and fell into the fire. Or maybe too much frolicking was going on.

We can still make and wear shawl or scarf pins, out of metal wire and ornamented by beads, just to decorate and accessorize with them.

They can be cast in glass, or beaded with wirework - and no matter how they are made, they are fun to wear.

You can easily add an art bead to the end of a hairstick or ornate chopstick for the part that goes through your knitted fabric.

This photo is a shawl pin based on the 8th century Irish brooch now in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. Now that's ornate!

Another type of closure for clothing that can still be found in use is the Roman fibula or clasp pin. They can be seen in disk and S shapes, and the design is very ancient.

Here's a beautiful scarf pin in the
kilt pin shape made by Melanie of Earthenwood Studios, using art beads to ornament it.

This is one of the free projects from the 12 Days of Christmas series, but it's useful to have a scarf pin all winter so give it a try and make some for yourself!

Put those art beads to work, decorating your scarves and shawls as you wrap up for warmth against the lingering winter weather.

1 comment:

EmandaJ said...

Love the post! I'm quite fond of pennanulars (the circular broaches that look like the letter 'Q') I bought a beautiful simple sterling silver one in Scotland a few years ago and love wearing it. It's like being intricately connected to the centuries of jewelry and fashion before the zipper!