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Art, Celt, Fashion, History

How To: Constructing Celtic Interlace (Knotwork)

Digital Magpie

What is it? 

The name “Celtic” is a bit misleading. Interlace (or knotwork) was used in multiple historical periods as a decorative motif. However, it is so extensively used in what’s commonly known as Celtic Art that it has become primarily associated with that period. Characteristics include consistent over-under alteration, consistent width for each band of the interlace, and frequent use of “spade-shaped” turns. Look at the interlace within the “T” in this example from the Book of Kells:

Detail, Book of Kells Detail, Book of Kells

How do you do it?

There are multiple approaches to constructing interlaces. Some claim to be more historic than others; I’m just listing them in the order that I teach them.

  1. The simplest method is to draw (or paint) the overall interlace shape you want, using a light color, and then go back and draw in the over/under interlace edges. Here’s a detailed description.
  2. Another method…

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About niagaraceltic

Since 2001, Niagara Celtic has hosted an annual Celtic Festival in Western New York to honor the history and heritage of everyone with Irish, Scottish and Welsh history, along with the other Celtic Nations. Our presence has expanded online to become a year-round way to connect with the worldwide Celtic Community.


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