The Athena Collar

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For some reason, the photographs on the blog are getter worse.  I still can’t find my proper close-up camera for the details, and I like to use my camera phone so that the pictures will load quickly when you read the blog, but I seem to be losing my touch with the shots.  Anyway, to Athena.

This collar started life as one of the velvet blanks – beautiful cotton velvet used in soft furnishings and donated by the son of a friend of my mother who has had honourable mentions in these despatches before.  I started to stitch on the flat circular beads which I bought on a trip to Copenhagen with the Medieval Historian and which therefore have sentimental value:

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I was lucky to have some matching cube beads to stitch around the edges.  I covered the velvet with the beads and then lost a bit of momentum.  I was driving to our huge out of town shopping mall, so not thinking about the collars or the project at all, when I suddenly thought that of all of the collars, this one looked the most like plate armour of a sort with its overlapping deflecting discs, which is where the project started.  Then I remembered a necklace I had bought in a closing down sale which was unwearable, but which had masses of owl charms.  I bought it because my mother loves owls and I thought she might be able to use some of them in her work.  I couldn’t have bought the owl charms in that number for the price of the necklace, so it was a bargain lying dormant in the bead drawer.  Surprisingly, I managed to find it (no small feat) and then set to it with my pliers.  I stitched owls around the bottom and used the chain to make the strap for the finished collar.

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Then when I was at the Hobbycraft sale, I found the two black plastic coral amulets:

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I really wanted to include them, even though I know they look odd.

The armour-like feel of the piece, and the owls make me think about Athena, a goddess I have always felt some sort of affinity with.

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In the first of these photographs you can see her owl, the bird she is associated with.  One of my favourite Klimt paintings is of Athena, and you can see a form of the overlapping disc effect that I was going for:

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I feel my affinity to her because she is associated with craft and textiles in particular – the story of Arachne being turned into a spider is part of the Athena myth.  She is also a goddess of war and wisdom.  But my affinity comes from her being a helpmeet of the boys in battle, and her close association with her father – she sprang fully formed and fully armed from her father’s head.  I am very strongly drawn to male mental energy, and the world of the head.  I don’t think we would get on if we ever met because we are too similar.   I am that rare breed: a life-long committed feminist who would rather have been born a man!

The coral, to conclude, is an amulet that I saw a lot when I was in Naples a couple of years ago.  I know that Naples is in Italy and Athena was Greek, but it seemed to fit my classical Graeco-Roman theme.

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One thought on “The Athena Collar

  1. yes but wasn’t naples founded as a greek colony? (greek city states controlled population by periodically kicking groups of adolescants out to found colonies, many of the major medditerranean seaboard cities like nice and naples were founded by variousgreek states, with the exception of sparta which only over founded one colony for military reasons-paranoia over helot revolts and all that)

    I think belonging to athena makes it an aegis rather than a gorget, interesting that only klimt shows her wearing the aegis as is was one of her major atributes. To my eye the coral and owls echo the snakes that fringed the original aegis – whoever wears it will just have to fill for the gorgons head that featured at the centre of the original

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