Ancient technique using cuttlebone moulds to make jewellery

by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Web Producer

Artisan jeweller, Eftihios Tsivourakis, who creates and sells jewellery in his shop*, Batsi Gold, kindly demonstrated the ancient technique of mould-making using cuttlefish bone to some of us who were on Andros for the Zagora Archaeological Project in October 2013. In the video (6 mins 26 secs), below, he uses this technique to make a sterling silver pendant, an approximately 2/3 replica tetradrachm (coin) of Athens, c. 449 – 413 BCE.

For those of you who may have found this post by a web search for ancient jewellery-making techniques, we were living in Batsi, on the Greek Aegean island of Andros, in October/November 2013 while working on the Zagora Archaeological Project. I encourage you to explore this website to discover more about this fascinating project and the Early Iron Age settlement of Zagora which was inhabited from about 900 – 700 BCE.

Very kind thanks to Eftihios Tsivourakis for offering to demonstrate this technique to us. And thanks to Lea Alexopoulos, one of the Zagora 2013 volunteers, and who became acquainted with Eftihios after several visits to his shop on the main coastal street of Batsi, and who liaised with Eftihios to make the videoing of the demonstration possible.

The Powerhouse Museum, a partner in the Zagora Archaeological Project, is a museum of applied arts and sciences in Sydney. Jewellery is one of the ‘applied arts’ which the Powerhouse collects and displays, so Paul Donnelly (a Powerhouse Decorative Arts curator and archaeologist, and the other Powerhouse person on Andros for the project with me) was particularly pleased we were able to record this process.

Eftihios kindly donated a pendant he made demonstrating this process, and also the cuttlebone moulds, to the Powerhouse Museum, which Paul is in the process of acquiring.

* Eftihios lives and works in Batsi during the holiday season for about half the year till around October, working the rest of the year in Athens.

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2 thoughts on “Ancient technique using cuttlebone moulds to make jewellery”

  1. It was good to see this interesting and informative video. Eftihios is a very good silver- and goldsmith; we’ve bought a number of items from him in the past, both “off the shelf” and made to order, and hope to be buying more this month. He also hosts weekly BBQs at his shop, which give nice opportunities to meet up with Andros residents!

    • Hi there Malcolm – glad you liked the video. I bought some lovely pieces from Eftihios last year also (am wearing the silver chain and earrings as I type this). I didn’t know about the weekly BBQs – but we were there at the very end of the season so he was winding the shop up then, and I don’t think the BBQs were still happening. He spends about six months there in the peak time and the other time working in his studio in Athens. I sent Eftihios a letter (kindly translated into Greek by the partner of Leah, one of the Zagora volunteers) with the web link to the video, and some photos I took while we were there. Please ask if he has received them. And please give him my kind regards. Lucky you to be there so soon and in summer.

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