Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Designing Knotwork - Spirals

Another element of celtic knotwork designs are spirals. Here's a quick tutorial of how to work with them. Having a compass and ruler are extremely useful for this type of work, though it is possible to eyeball it as well.


Two Coils
2-1
Start with a circle. Bisect the circle through the middle, and mark off segments of equal length outwards from the middle of the circle. Both the bisecting line and these marks are used for guides, so don't make them too dark.

2-2
After you have the guides set up, start the spirals from the center of the circle with twin arcs moving in the same direction, to the first pair of your markers. Pick clockwise or counterclockwise -- it doesn't matter which, as long as you are consistent.

2-3
From here, it's a matter of just continuing the arcs expanding outwards, always bringing each arm around to the next pair of markers.

2-4
And continue until you reach the outside of the circle. A simpler two-coil spiral can be made with fewer segments spaced farther apart, and a more elaborate one with more segments closer together.

* * *

Three Coils
3-1
Start with a circle. Mark off some guidelines by dividing the circle into thirds (either by using a compass or protractor to measure the 120 degrees). Mark off segments of equal length outwards from the middle of the circle along each of these three guidelines. These marks are used for guides, so don't make them too dark.

3-2
After you have the guides set up, start the spirals from the center of the circle with three arcs moving in the same direction, to the first set of your markers. Pick clockwise or counterclockwise -- it doesn't matter which, as long as you are consistent.

3-3
From here, it's a matter of just continuing the arcs expanding outwards, always bringing each arm around to the next set of markers.

3-4
And continue until you reach the outside of the circle.

* * *


Working Multiple Spirals Together
Okay, so those are the basics for a single spiral. You could apply the same technique to creating a spiral with as many arms as you want, just subdivide the circle with the number of guidelines equaling the number of coils you want the finished spiral to have. But how do you go about weaving those basic patterns into a more elaborate design?
4-1
Start with laying out some guidelines/circles for yourself. In this particular design, I want to have three interlocking spirals combined in a single circle. Visualize the final underlying structure, and with that in mind, lay out the guides that you need. This may take a bit of practice to be able to conceptualize beforehand and know what you need, but one thing you can do is start with what you think you need, and as you go, sketch in more guides as required.

4-2.a
The initial framework is in place, but each of the inner circles is to be a spiral, and so these must have their own guidelines and markers in place.

4-2.b
Start the arms of the spiral as previously described in the Three-Coil section above.

4-2.c
Finish up the three coiled spiral, and repeat on each of the three circles in this design.

4-3
After finishing 4-2, you would have a large circle, with three smaller circles contained in it, each with a separate three-coiled spiral. Now you can get creative about how to link these three elements together into a cohesive design. The most natural junction of these three spirals is for the lines to lead directly into a central three-coiled spiral in the middle of the design.

4-4.a
Now the three spirals are all linked together, but the design still has a lot of empty space, and the larger coils could use some tweaking and details as well.

4-4.b
In a large enough piece, you could even insert panels of simple knotwork inside the arms of the coils.

4-4.c
Or fill the surrounding space with a bit of knotwork.

4-5
Repeat whatever motifs you choose to implement around the entire design, and erase the guidelines to have your finished creation!

* * *

Examples from my current project
I'm currently working on designing a stained glass hanging lampshade for my room. Here are some practical examples of the design process I go through myself.

8 comments:

  1. Awesome ! Thank you very much :)

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  2. Great tutorial!! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  3. That was fantastic and informative. Thank you!

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  4. Thank you again. It was most helpful.

    Best,
    ~Claudia

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  5. This is great--thank you for sharing! Love your work!

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  6. this is wonderful and inspiring, thank you so much!

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  7. wow, thank you so much! I was so lost on how to do celtic knots before. Thank you!

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