Dress and Identity front cover art

I struggled for a long time trying to decide on an image or compilation of images for the front cover of my book. When I say ‘struggled’ what I really mean is that I had a lot of ideas, but I was completely limited by my own artistic talent!

But, then I had an idea…9781784915261

During my doctoral degree I decided to book a class on making glass beads. I like to have a sense of a material and the process used to create something. I have a lot of experience with textiles from sewing and a bit of knitting and my mother is a spinner/weaver, so I know that having some practical experience with a craft can really open your eyes to the whole process. Plus, making my own glass beads sounded great!

So, over an Easter break and from the recommendation of a friend, I booked a lesson with Mike Poole from Tillerman Beads. I had a fantastic time learning about making lampwork beads! I was using modern glass and a modern torch set up, so there are some differences in how working with glass in an Iron age furnace would be, but I still gained loads of insight. Mike was a great teacher with an interest in Iron Age, Roman, and early medieval beads, so it was wonderful to be taught by someone that had a background in what I was researching.

Queen’s Barrow necklace in the Yorkshire Museum (YORYM : 1948.911.1-18, YORYM : 1948.912.1-14, YORYM : 1948.914.1-4, YORYM : 1948.917.1-18) . CC BY-SA 4.0

It wasn’t until several year later when trying to decide on an image for the front cover of my book, that I decided I would commission Mike to make a replica of the Queen’s Barrow necklace from the square barrow burials near Market Weighton in East Yorkshire. This spectacular necklace was made up of at least 100 beads, most of which are now on display in the Yorkshire Museum. There were other pieces of jewellery in this burial, including a copper alloy and coral pendant that may have hung from the strand of beads. There are also about a dozen beads in the collections at the British Museum, which you can find on their website.

I was really excited when the necklace arrived and it made me glad that I decided this would make an ideal front cover image. I really wanted an image that showed what Iron age glass beads would have looked like at the time, rather than the often broken and weathered beads that we see today. And I think these beads do this.


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