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Helga's Blog

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Stories from the daily live of an active metalsmith who tracks down
her muse with camera and sketchbook.

Four times a year I make a seasonal round-up of my activities here from my blog. By subscribing  you get this letter automatically delivered to your mailbox.

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Cheers,
Helga

 

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Gold treasures from Iran

Travelling to Iran to visit an exhihibition is not something easy to do. Therefore it's wonderful if musea do exchange collections. For the gorgeous treasures of the National Museum in Iran, Tehran, I only had to travel to the Drents Museum in Assen. 

The amount of gold jewellery in the exhibition "Iran - Cradle of Civilisation" was staggering.  In this photo review I show jewellery pieces from 2600 BC till around 330 BC. Gradually you see how the metalsmiths evolve in their skills.

The Drents Museum did an excellent job in showing the pieces. The catalogue gives all the nessecary background in understanding the time period. All pieces are on loan from the National Museum of Iran, Tehran. 

iran goud 01 agaat

The oldest pieces of jewellery of the exhibition are these tasteful selected semi-precious stone necklace and bracelet. These pieces do not contain any metals. Dating of the bracelet, found in Shahdad, is 2600-2400BC. The necklace was found in Tappeh Hissar, 2400-2200BC. This puts them in bronze timeperiod.

 

iran goud 02 ketting

Golden necklace found in Kaluraz. 850-550BC. 

 

iran goud 03 ketting

This gold necklace was buried along with a rich woman in the cementery of Kaluraz, a short distance southwest of the Caspian Sea. 850-550BC. 

 

iran goud 04 oorbel

Earrings found in a womansgrave in Kaluraz, southwest of the Caspian sea. 850 - 550 BC.

 

 iran goud 05 ketting

The left picture shows the findings from a grave in Jubaji containing two women (found in 2007AD). The wealth of this grave indicates they belonged to the former elite. On the right is a golden chain from the grave of the Jubaji princesses. 585 - 539 BC. Looks like it is a loop-in-loop chain.

 

iran goud 06 armband onyx

This gold bracelet inlaid with onyx is one of the most valuable ornaments from the Jubaji tomb of princesses. 585 - 539 BC. In the Old World the Etruscan people were know for this technic but I found in this Iran exhibition many beautiful examples of this style. 

 

iran goud 07 armband granuleren

Again three jewellery pieces from the grave of the Jubaji princesses. 585 - 539 BC. A massive golden bracelet with granulation. An elaborate brooche with an amazing deep golden colour. It must be of high carat. The ring is a faux-granulation but very effective using the punch technique. I like this ring a lot.

 

iran goud 08 armband leeuw

An impressive golden lionheaded bracelet. Size 12 x 9 cm, found in Hamedan. 550-330BC.

 

iran goud 09 oorbel

A very elaborate earring found in Pasargadae. 559-331 BC.

 

iran goud 10 ketting agaat

 Granulation is still in fashion in this agate necklace. Found in Stalakhjan, 559-331 BC.

 


Sources:
The exhibition texts of Iran - Cradle of Civilisation.
Drs. V.T. van Vilsteren en Dr. J. Nokandeh - Iran, Bakermat van de beschaving - Drents Museum en WBOOKS, Zwolle.

 

Summer Art Residence At Home 2018 - day 1

Helga sunflower fibonacciAgain I am struck by inspiration for another Summer Art Residence at Home. After quite an eventful half year with lots of commision work that feels really, really good!

The main culprit was my fascination for the Fibonacci patterns in sunflowers. This year I have grown these gorgeous flowers in my garden and they turned out pretty big. As you can see.

I blogged about it on my garden site over at "Edelsmid met Groene Vingers". Mainly with pictures, so go ahead, and click on the link.

With two weeks of hardly any obligations I can play/work as much as I like. I guess for people with a daytime job that is called a vacation. Being an artist, doing nothing, is not our cup of tea.

I like to be active with my hands & head. That is probably the reason S.A.R.A.H. has emerged in my life. (Read about 2013, 2014 and 2017)

The first week of August is in the middle of the holiday period. Lots of people are abroad and our little town is perfectly quite.

sunflower close-up

 

There are a few sources I can quote for creative sparks:

  • A bracelet commission and realization I hardly carry any bracelets in my webshop
  • A new tool to make bracelets
  • Challenge envy and earring catch up with non-precious materials. playtime
  • A new obsession for nature's patterns: The Sunflower

When I combine these seemingly unrelated points I have the perfect Art residence for me alone.

It's like a melting pot of creative energy. I follow my trail. Don't know where I will end.

We'll see…..


Here are a few pictures with explanation of the first days.
It started with my fascination for patterns in a sunflowers. In mathematics they are called Fibonacci sequence.

Without any prior knowledge I started drawing the first pattern on the floor with chalk.
I had a little helper: my godchild Anna who was visiting that day.

sunflower pattern anna

It was fun but not very accurate.

Studing on some mathematics and using the circle divider from Tim McCreight I got more precise divisions of the circle.

calculating fibonacci

helga drawing fibonacci patterns

But drawing the 3rd set of spirals, I noticed it was off. It didn't look like the flower before my eyes. So back to the drawing board. 

Inspired by Viharts "Doodling in Math" video, I took some acrylic paint and counted out, in sets of 5, the spirals I could find on my actual sunflower.

The green markings counted 55 spirals and the red ones are 89 spirals. The exact amout of fibonacci spirals!

Sequence of Fibonacci is 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, ... etc. (Have a look at the Fibonacci-page of this cool site hosted by the University of Surrey about math

sunflower fibonacci paint

A red set of 34 lines, blue 21 lines. Then by carefully observing the crosspoints of blue and red I found the 3rd set of lines here drawn in yellow.

spirals 34 21 13

 

It was fun to figure out how to draw the lines on the floor with chalk. Work on big scale is so different as I am usually doing. Now I was forced to rething what I thought I knew. You can always learn something new.

 

Varna - the oldest processed gold in the world

In the spring of 2017 I visited a special exhibition in the museum van Dordrecht about the oldest processed gold in the world. The place were this gold was found is Varna in Bulgary. Dordrecht is a partner-town of Varna and to mark a jubileum there was an exchange exhibition in The Netherlands with the gold finds. An absolute opportunity!

varna goud vitrinekast graf 3

De twee zalen met de archeologische vondsten uit Varna waren sober belicht waardoor de volle aandacht uit kon gaan naar de zorgvuldig belichte vitrines.

Op de eerste foto zijn een aantal van de vondsten uit het graf 3 van grafveld II te zien. Daarboven hangt de oorspronkelijke foto uit 1976 die van het graf gemaakt is. Hierin zie je het skelet van een man van 25 tot 30 jaar. Door middel van koolstofonderzoek weet men de leeftijd te dateren tussen 4750 - 4700 v. Chr.  Dit valt exact in de midden kopertijd. De ontdekking van dit nieuwe metaal na het stenen tijd perk zou tot de verdere evolutie van de mensheid leiden. Geleidelijk maakten de mensen zich het productieproces eigen. 

De witte voorwerpen in de vitrine zijn zorgvuldige creaties van kralen en een armband van een bepaald type stekeloester (Spondylus) die gevonden wordt in de Aegische zee (zie foto's hieronder). Verder ligt er ook nog een spiraalvormige armband van koper, een bijl van jade, strijdbijl van een geweitak en een keramische pot.

varna spondylus stekeloester kralen

varna spondylus stekeloester armband

Mijn aandacht ging echter naar de rechterkant van de vitrine. Op het kleine vierkanten plexiglas blokje liggen 31 kleine gouden kralen die hier aan elkaar geregen zijn. Oorspronkelijk zijn ze gevonden met malachiet- en stekeloesterkralen. Dit is het oudste bewerkte goud ter wereld.

Het voordeel van naar een expositie gaan is dat je de sieraden van dichtbij kunt zien. Op een foto heb je nooit een precies beeld van de grootte van een sieraad. Neem bijvoorbeeld deze 31 gouden kralen. Ze zijn veel kleiner dan ik oorspronkelijk gedacht had.

varna goud 31kralen oudste

Het zijn eenvoudige kralen die waarschijnlijk uit plat gehamerd goud gebogen zijn. In die periode hadden de bewoners van Varna alleen stenen en koperen werktuigen. Ik vind het fascinerend me voor te stellen dat er 6700 duizend jaar geleden iemand goud heeft zitten uithameren, tot het dun genoeg was om het tot kralen te rollen.

 

Smelten, uithameren en met een beitel in stukken verdelen zullen tot de handelingen gehoord hebben. Op de foto hieronder zie je ook al een oogje gemaakt uit draad. Wellicht is die draad gemaakt met een stukje plat goud waar je met een beitel en hamer een dunne strip af slaat. 

Wat ik ook grappig vond was de met dun goud omwikkelde rechthoek. Meer met minder!

varna goud driehoek hangers

Prachtig waren ook de keramische figuurtjes met lijn patronen en de kleine dierfiguren:

varna goud figurines dier

varna goud hanger os

 

Gouden halsketting met kralen van Spondylus en Carneool. Het gouden amulet lijkt op een stek gestileerd vrouwenlichaam.

De omgebogen randen wijzen erop dat gaten gemaakt werden door er met een spits voorwerp in te slaan.

varna goud halsketting carneool

varna goud bewerking

 

Bronnen:
Vladimir Slavchev - Het oudste goud van de wereld, schatten uit Varna - Dordrechts Museum 2016
T. Douglas Price - Europe before Rome - Oxford University Press 2013
Barry Cunliffe - Europe between the oceans, 9000BC-AD 1000 - Yale University Press 2008

Day 5 - Sanddrawing & Linocut

On this last day I am a bit tired. Doing creative work and battling my own enemies does cost energy. Fortunately it led to some breakthroughs in my work strategy. I've developed a new way to transform the Canyon images that inspire me, into tangible work processes.

Jumping from drawing straight and concentric shapes in the silver sand, I am now re-creating Antelope Canyon abstractions. It feels totally right. Antelope Canyon is made out of Navajo sandstone and the silver sand is just the right material to freely explore new shapes. With the tools I made for the zengarden motifs I am able to create satisfying patterns.

canyon sanddrawing

I'll next week revisit the sanddrawing and make more of this type drawings and sandpaintings. I am trying to find new authentic ways to come to new shapes in my jewelry work. The faster I sketch the Antelope images, the more abstract they become. I like that, I want to pursuit this idea. 

In my facebook sketching group Elizabeth Agte was inspired by my Art Retreat to work with blockprinting. She posted some lovely bee prints. The cross-pollination did its work again, and I used linocut to create a print inspired by the Canyon's in the South-West of the USA.   

canyon process lino

 * Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller, and then impressed onto paper. (quote from wikipedia)

 

Next friday, 4th of August, I'll post the final blogpost about my reflections on SARAH 2017.

 


This is the fifth day of Helga's Art Residence At Home. Previous posts are:

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017
- Day 1 - Meditation & Mindscape
- Day 2 - Papermaking
- Day 3 - Re-connecting with the original Erosion inspiration
- Day 4 - Drawing & Sharing the Studio with Friends

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Day 4 - Drawing & Sharing the Studio with Friends

antelope color sketchAlready day four of my Summer Art Retreat At Home.
I woke up to a feeling of uneasiness.
A doubt towards myself and my creative process.

Why am I doing this retreat?
There is nothing coming out of it!
What is the use of this?

Sigh!

I know this voice, it bothered me before.
Actually, the exact reason why I do this retreat.
To confront the voices, and accept that they are part of my creative process.

I will listen to them, acknowledge the feeling but then go on with my plan.
And my plan for today was drawing in the morning.

So I did.

Again I took my pictures from our visit to Antelope Canyon and zoomed in on some details and started drawing. Four minutes for each drawing. In no time I had a bunch of sketches that help me observing the beauty of Erosion in the Canyon.

During my mid-day meditation session I got an idea. Why not draw one of my quick sketched in in the silver sand on the floor?

This I will do tomorrow as it was time for lunch and my plans for the afternoon where already set.

 

Papermaking - part 2

Because I anticipated my morning dip I invited two friends in the afternoon to join me in papermaking. Angelique and Nicole were excited to see the process and eager to make paper. 

On the picture you see Nicole putting the sieve with paper pulp onto the felt. Angelique is waiting to press the water out of the paper so the sieve can be taken of to make a new sheet.

papermaking nicole angelique

I had two boxes of pulp prepared. One white and one green from the horsetail plant material.  It was fun to explain the several steps involved. (see also Monday's post)

The press we are using is a second-hand bookpress, quite useful for getting rid of the water. You see me here putting the stack of felt and paper in between so we can start pressing.

papermaking helga press

We didn't do a whole lot in the 2 hours, but there was a basic understanding of the process and we had a lot of fun.
The pictures were taken by Angelique. Thank You sweetie :-)

I've uploaded a whole bunch of pictures on my La Leipsig facebook page.

papermaking friends

 


This is the fourth day of Helga's Art Residence At Home. Previous posts are:

- Summer Art Residence At Home 2017
- Day 1 - Meditation & Mindscape
- Day 2 - Papermaking
- Day 3 - Re-connecting with the original Erosion inspiration

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About La Leipsig

The jewellery which is sold under the brand name La Leipsig Jewels is based on Helga van Leipsig's observations of the nature in Limburg, a province in the south of The Netherlands.

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