The Koru – experimenting with shapes from nature

New Zealand is my adopted home land and since long before immigrating there, during my first vacation in NZ, I fell in love with ferns. The silver fern is the national plant of NZ and tree ferns are my favorite plants at all.

I was and still am in awe of the shape of a new unfurling fern frond – called koru (Maori for “loop”). For me personally it feels very balanced and symbolizes eternity. However, according to Maori mythology it’s symbolizing new life, growth, strength and peace and suggests a return to the point of origin.

When searching for inspiration for the “Back to Nature” challenge on Lampwork Etc. I immediately thought of the unique flora and fauna of New Zealand and that I want to capture these in my exchange beads. The first thing that popped into my mind was of course the koru.

So here is my first, absolutely pathetic attempt in sculpturing a koru shape at the end of my mandrel. LOL

Obviously I had no idea how to tackle the shape and abandoned my attempt after 30 minutes or so. I was so frustrated that I smashed it all together into some pseudo koru shape. The color (CIM Commando with silvered ivory shards) was also not to my liking, as it looks kind of dead or rotten and doesn’t symbolize the vibrant colors of ferns.
I’m not even sure why I placed it into the kiln, because quite frankly, this attempt was rubbish. *shock*

In the quest for a nicer color I turned to Lemongrass, a vibrant yellow-green with beautiful striations. I also introduced the idea of dew drops into my koru design – I’m fascinated by glittering dew drops in the morning sun and I think that fits nicely with the juicy green.

Here you can see my second attempt. The shape improved already, but I was still not getting the effect that I was after. The spiral is too small, not defined and dimensional enough and doesn’t have the desired impact that I hoped for. And while I liked the dew drop design, the clear glass that I used didn’t pop enough.

My last attempt of the night was finally a winner. It’s still not perfect, but I just love the effect that I got here. I changed to Bullseye glass, which has a COE of 90 and is much stiffer than the COE 104 colors that I used before. This stiffness was helping me so much to create a nicer koru shape. I would have preferred a lighter green, but my stash of BE glass is not big, and I had to work with what I got. The transparent clear dew drops I substituted with Gaia silver glass, which gives it a special “pop”.


So this is my first bead for the exchange – it has a partial hole in the “foot” of the koru and I’ll glue in a bail before sending the bead out.

With my next bead I’ll tackle a couple of very special animals. Keep your eyes peeled, I’ll post pictures next week!

ETA: I didn’t glue in a bail after discussing this with Lori (exchange hostess). Just to give the bead recipient more options.

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5 responses to “The Koru – experimenting with shapes from nature

  1. Yes Lara, theoretically not. I completely forgot while doing the bead. But I loved the bead so much that I didn't want to chuck it away. I made in the meantime a few test beads (very little Gaia surface decoration), and banged them all around and so far didn't have cracks. It's risky, and I know that there's no guarantee that it will not crack further down the line.

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