That Damned Elusive Pearl Spiral

You will have seen it again and again in Rossetti’s paintings of lush, isolated women – a spiral of pearls nestling in waves of red or raven hair. Once you’ve noticed it, it keeps turning up. Here it is in ‘A Christmas Carol’…

christmas-carol…and in Alexa Wilding’s hair in ‘Monna Vanna’…

dante_gabriel_rossetti_12_monna_vanna…and, naturally, adorning Jane Morris in ‘Mariana’…

mariana
Rossetti was an incorrigible collector. His Chelsea house was crammed with musical instruments he never played, mirrors he never polished, and great swathes of fabrics for the beautification of his models. He spent the evenings rummaging in junk shops for exotic jewellery and amassed quite a collection of cheap yet dramatic pieces. Some of these pieces still surface in Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic exhibitions. Unfortunately, the spiral hair pin he obviously adored was allegedly borrowed by a friend and never seen again. That probably didn’t do Rossetti’s latent paranoia any good.

While we wait for it to turn up on Antiques Roadshow, we have Kirsty Walker’s biscuit replicas to enjoy, and – at last! – beautiful handmade replicas by Joanna of Nanya Online. I don’t normally do plugs, but I won Joanna’s Tumblr competition and I’m just thrilled. It arrived today in a tiddy box adorned with ‘The Beloved’.

IMG_2672 IMG_2678Isn’t it delicate? It feels like a network of tiny bones in my hand. Joanna also makes earring replicas of the spiral. Have a look at her shop.

Unlike Alexa Wilding and friends, my hair is made of ghosts, so nothing will ever stay in it. Luckily the spiral comes with another pin so it can be worn as a brooch. I’ll be wearing it on my Victorian riding jacket at Portsmouth’s Victorian Festival of Christmas where I’ll be ‘performing’ – ha! – later this month. See you there.

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2 thoughts on “That Damned Elusive Pearl Spiral

  1. Congratulations!! Also, I am stealing “my hair is made of ghosts.” So much more succinct and evocative than my go-to “your average three-year-old has more hair than I do.” (Needless to say, the production budget for Unvarnished involves a good quality wig.)

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