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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.