Inspired by the Æthelswith Ring
The project was to create a ring as gift to commemorate the induction on Lily Morgaine into the order of the Maunche. Her persona of an 8th century resident of the central British Isles led me to the extant finger ring of the Queen of Mercia, a close contemporary (early 9th century) and geographically close. Done in the Trewhiddle style, inspired by, but not a recreation of this ring will be fine silver and cast.
Gold finger-ring; plain hoop expanding at the shoulders, which with the bezel are chased with Trewhiddle style designs upon a nielloed ground. The bezel is circular with a pearled border; it is ornamented with a medallion inscribed in a quatrefoil and containing the Agnus Dei between two letters; the leaves of the quatrefoil and the spaces between them are chased with foliage. Each shoulder has a semi-circular panel with pearled border, containing an animal on a ground of niello. Inside the ring is engraved with an inscription.
Production date: 853-874 (probably)
Cultures/periods: Late Anglo-Saxon
Materials: gold niello
Diameter: 26 millimetres
Height: 20 millimetres
Weight: 20.20 grains
Inscription type: inscription
Inscription transliteration: + EA⃒ÐELSVIÐ⃒REGNA
Inscription translation: Queen Æthelswith
I flattened the curved image as a composite from the different angles with the intent of recreating a curved final piece.
I relaced the center image with the Maunche badge, and the adjacent images with aspects of the recipient’s heraldry, lilies.
From the sketch design I created an etching resist template using PNP blue film and used ferric chloride and coppler plate to create a copper model.
Once the etched flat model was created it needed to be cut and cleaned and shaped.
Then a mold can be made. I used MoldMax 60 tin silicone to make a mold of the copper models. I was then able to produce wax and pewter casts of the original model.
The casts allow for additional detail work and opportunity for me to try different techniques and modifications to yield the desired effects of a final. I could correct issues on the wax using carving tools and create a final ring model to be used for the next step. Lost wax Casting. I used jewelers wax and investment plaster to create the molds, modern analogs of period beeswax and clay. Progressing through burnout to casting in fine silver to yield the ring.
Because I had done significant work in the wax medium the cleanup efforts on the silver were minimal. I needed only correct a few minor inclusions and errors from the casting process. Then a polish and shine.
While the original piece was gold that had the designs chased into the gold with highlights contrasted with niello, I chose to use silver due to material costs. I had originally thought to make authentic Niello to add to the piece to increase the contrast of the lines, but thought better of it as Niello contains lead, and since this is a ring to be worn, I did not want to risk and transfer while wearing through the skin. I will save that for a display only item.