Over Christmas we took a trip to Ireland. I posted some pictures a few blog posts back (Doors of Dublin, Castles and Gathering Moss). I promised I'd be back with a design that was Ireland inspired. And so I am. This piece uses a focal stone called Connemara Marble. It is said to have 40 shades of green in it's wild pattern which perfectly represents the landscapes of the Emerald Isle.
If any of you follow Karen over at Backstory Beads you will have seen her stunning design with this same focal I shared with her. It was amazingly designed and can be worn as a necklace or a pin. Seriously, it is very cool and you should click on over to her post. Liz from Bead Contagion also has one of these stones, so there is still one more stone to share with you all from Liz that will no doubt be a completely inspired design.
When I saw Karen's design I giggled to myself because I was half way done with my piece when she posted her's and I noticed that we had both looked at this stone and thought it needs fiber and knotted beads. Could not agree with you more Karen! Karen even went so far to include some beautiful macrame for her closure using a Sherri Stokey's technique.
I actually used a technique I saw in Erin and Lorelei's Bohemian Inspired Jewelry book (I never get tired of this book and come back to it again and again for inspiration). The knotting around the stone is called a lark's head knot. I included moss agate rounds to bring out all the shades of green in the focal. I added my own wire wrapped chain and then finished up with a bit of extra chain to make this a rather long necklace that slides over your head without a need for a closure.
Ok, and now for the history behind the stone. You know I can't resist a bit of that. Connemara Marble is over 900 million years old and is unique to Ireland. The name is tribal from Conmacne, a tribe with many branches from all over the Connacht region of Ireland which today is called Galway County. One branch of the tribe that lived on the Western coast was called the Conmacne Mara with mara meaning 'of the sea' in Gaelic.
The stone itself is a serpentine-rich rock, which has been used and traded since Neolithic period. Yeah, that's pretty old I'd say. During our trip we saw old ring forts that were from 6,000 years ago and weather-beaten stone huts that housed the people living along this wind-whipped part of the world. The rugged beauty is stunning as is their rich history. Absolutely a place worth visiting.