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Celtic knot borders


Hi all,

I got an order for a custom ring. It sounded great until he
included that he wants a triple rope Celtic knot border around
the main design. I never bothered to learn how to do Celtic
knots because the ren. faire crowd seemed to have that market.
Are there round wax borders for sale. Is it easier to knot
stands of wax or is it better to carve them? I’m also
considering chasing or engraving directly into the metal.

Thank you for your help,



Hi Pauline,

I think the method that will give you the best result is to saw
it out and use your graver to cut the grooves to show the
overlap of the sections. I will usually draw the pattern or use
a pattern provided be the customer, then reduce or enlarge it on
a copy machine until I get the exact width I need. Invariably it
is too short to make a complete ring so I make several copies
and piece it together to get a continuous pattern. I then glue
stick it on my stock, drill all the openings and saw it out. If
you can saw precisely it works really well, much better than
trying to weave wax wire. You need to carefully use a graver to
make the necessary lines to give it a three dimensional look. I
often will do this in yellow gold and slip a platinum or white
gold sleeve underneath, it provides a nice contrast.

Mark P.



I have only done a celtic design once myself. But I went to the
library and sketched out a design, and shrunk it down on the
photo copier. Once I had my copy, I used glue stick and attached
the design to a peice of wax. Then took a sharp scribe and using
a little pressure, carved through the paper onto the wax. It
gives you a nice outline. Then I used various types of gravers
and did the actual carving. Make sure you have another sketch on
hand to use as a reference. It’s easy to get confused while
carving complex patterns. I’ve used this method for any
detailed design work and have been very pleased with the results.
Another fun tool to use is a light box. You can purchase them at
craft stores. It makes tracing detailed design on paper a lot
easier. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

Good Luck!



I’ve had a long fascination w/ Celtic knotwork and use it quite
a bit. Unless a client wants a flat band, I carve my patterns in
green wax. My transfer method is very similar to what others have
stated. Xerox off the copy or rendered drawing, resize on the
machine, glue down the cut paper and scribe it out on the wax. I
have found though, that for rings with repeating motifs, I get
very nice results if I transfer the pattern first to a piece of
30ga metal and pierce it. I leave a little end piece to bend
upward for a “handle” and curve the metal to match the ring
blank. Laying the metal piece on the wax ring blank to trace
gives me a MUCH cleaner transfer of the design and I have a
permanent pattern to use again and again. I can just re-bend the
metal and lenghthen or shorten the connector ends to apply the
pattern to a new size.

When preparing the wax ring blanks, I find it easier and more
accurate to work a solid wax tube on my Matt lathe. First
determine the diameter of the needed ring size and open that size
hole in the wax. Then consider how hefty you want the finished
ring to be and turn the tube to that thickness. Slice off the
proper width. Measure the circumference of your wax blank and do
the division with the length of your motif to see how many units
fit most comfortably. Then you can mark a locator for the center
section of each motif on your wax, scribe the pattern centered
and connect the ends when you’re done.

For carving, I like gravers and a mix of exacto blades and
jewelers screwdrivers that I modify to work as gouges and
smoothers. Also a cheap set of linoleum block cutters or wood
carving tools can be re-sharpened/modified to really nice wax

I have a pile of books on knotwork in my bench library, but the
one I turn to time and time again is Celtic Art: Methods of
Construction by George Bain (Dover Pubns; ISBN: 0486229238). I
just checked w/ Amazon.Com and they’ve got it on sale for $7.96
which is an absolute steal. It has details on how to do your own
knotwork and apply it to various media, plus historical
references on the hundreds of examples he provides.

Hope this is of assistance!


Jane Armstrong/@Jane_Armstrong


The process I use for the Celtic stuff is my CAD/CAM system.
Ideal for uniformity of size and depth of design. I can do
bands and crosses with Celtic designs, and cigar bands. Anyone
interested, contact me by email.


You could etch the design using PnP Blue as a resist, as there
are many knotted borders published for copyright-free use.
Dover put out a book “Celtic Frames and Borders”, by Mallory
Pearce (1998), ISBN 0-486-40235-5. Size the pattern using a
photocopy machine, or scanner and photo software.