Tag Archives: geometric shapes

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

Stolen Kisses was inspired by the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and forbidden love. I’d fallen in love with fretwork and was going all out. But geometric fretwork was not an obvious part of the piece when I started.

I did experiment with a geometric version of the statue silhouette. It was interesting and I may still do something with it in the future, but it wasn’t happening for this piece. I looked at roses and the Fibonacci sequence. Again, it was really interesting but it still wasn’t doing it for me.

Geometric version of Romeo & Juliet statue

Geometric version of Romeo & Juliet statue

Experiments with the Fibonacci Sequence and rose petals

Experiments with the Fibonacci Sequence and rose petals

As I studied Romeo and Juliet, I thought about the setting. Whilst I hadn’t visited the fictional setting of the play, I had been to Italy in 2013 and been completely bowled over by the most incredible architecture – not least of all by the beautiful rose windows and interior cornices and arches.

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Milan – Ceiling inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Inside St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City 

Italian architecture is rich and varied and rose windows are intrinsic to many of the churches and buildings we saw. A rose window starts out with a hexagon and when you take it apart, it resembles the petals of a rose. So with this as my starting point, after a lot of experimentation, I created a geometric rose window pattern that I could fretwork.

The Duomo, Milan

The Duomo, Milan

Experimenting with hexagonal shapes and rose window patterns

Experimenting with hexagonal shapes and rose window patterns

The edge of the pendant is not symmetrical, echoing some of the asymmetric shapes I saw in Italy, particularly in the Vatican City.

Inside St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Inside St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

In my final design, I placed my silhouette of the lovers behind the window, so that it gives the impression of stolen moments, hidden love and secret assignations.


‘When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew.”


Fretwork: An unhealthy obsession?

‘Stolen Kisses’ was part of my College requirement and so I had to follow a brief. Part of the brief was a requirement for geometric fretwork. Thus began my slightly unhealthy obsession with producing ornamental designs in silver with my piercing saw…

After a class on fretwork – how to design it; the importance of interconnecting sections (cut out too much and you could end up with more ‘gaping hole’ than ‘openwork’); selecting the bits to cut out and the bits to leave in place (positive and negative spaces); how to pierce out really tiny holes etc., I started experimenting.

In fact, I was so excited about fretwork, I ended up including three different kinds of fretwork in my final piece…that’s a lot of piercing and a lot of back ache!  So in ‘Stolen Kisses’, there is the silhouette of R&J, the fretwork quote around the edge and, for the geometric bit, a rose window pattern. Not only that, I actually then continued with fretwork for my second piece – ‘The Noble Fool’ – and have now begun working on a fretwork quote collection.

The art of fretworking:


The design – in this case a quote from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ – is drawn out on paper.


The design is transferred onto the metal and holes are drilled in the ‘negative spaces’. A saw blade is then fed through one hole at a time and secured in a saw frame.


The holes are cut out one at a time with a piercing saw.


Once the holes are cut out, the paper is removed and then the cleaning up starts.

Fretwork is a long and fiddly job. It’s complicated and challenging but the results are well worth the effort… and the back ache!