Seashells: Armor & Adornment on Game of Thrones

This Sunday evening, I (like SO many other people) will be parked on my couch watching Game of Thrones. The first episode of this most recent season had a record breaking 10.7 million people watching.

Last week, as I was watching episode 7, something struck me about how beautiful the Wildling's armored shirts were! Then I realized that that they were created using oyster & mussel shells- two of my favorite natural materials to use in Sea+Stone jewelry. I scoured the internet for images, but couldn't find any. I found it hard to believe I was the only viewer who took a fancy to this beautiful costume design! I knew I had to share images with all of you- so I sat down and rewatched the episode (I know- grueling "work"), and took screenshots of the use of shells in the Wildling scenes.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Wildlings or Game of Thrones (bless your heart), I will tell you a bit about this costume design and why it was selected for the Wildlings.

So to start with a one sentence summary of Game of Thrones to catch you up to speed:

It is a medieval political drama involving noble houses and struggles for power, in a fantasy setting (think dragons & magic).

The Wildlings are tribes of nomadic hunters who live in the far north, above the wall. They are not politically unified, and often reference themselves as the "free folk". They consist of a range of tribes- some live in settled villages and others are brutal traveling raiders.

As a tribe of nomadic hunters, the costumes of the Wildlings were created using materials that they would have found north of the wall- bones, fur, and shells. All of these things are likely materials that they would have collected from hunting- and since they do not have metal, it makes sense that they would repurpose some of these materials as a natural armor.

Michele Clapton is the costume designer for Game of Thrones. She disclosed a funny secret about costuming the Wildlings that really resonated with me. So sometimes in making custom jewelry pieces, I'll have people give me natural materials that I have never worked with before. I am always a bit nervous to take a risk on trying out a new process on someone's personal treasure. So many times, I will order a certain bone, shell, or fossil off of Ebay to use as a "guinea pig" to the real design. That way if an accident happens during the trial run, it doesn't effect the customer's piece. Apparently, Michele Clapton is in on my secret! She said that a lot of the bones used in Wildling armor were ordered off of Ebay first, then molded & cast to create bulk quantities.

I hope y'all enjoyed this fun fact about the show as much as I did! Enjoy episode 8! And thank you Game of Thrones for giving us all a reason to anticipate the end of the weekend instead of dreading it!



"Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you."

-George R.R. Martin. A Game of Thrones

Leave a comment