Brooch project I

In 2016 I set myself a project of making a brooch a month. I wanted them to be quite substantial statement pieces and I chose a different theme, artist or image to respond to each month.

January brooch

Acrylic, Formica, walnut, silver, oxidised silver, steel. 72mm x 55mm x 20mm

When I worked in the library at London College of Fashion, I found a book left by the photocopier that I was immediately drawn to. So much so, I went on to buy my own copy. It was Natural Fashion: tribal decoration from Africa by Hans Silvester ( 2009, Thames & Hudson).  I love the colours, patterns and materials in the images and sketches from these were the foundations for this brooch. If you click on the images of my work in progress photos I’ve given captions and more information on my thought processes as I worked towards the finished piece. (sold)

February brooch

Walnut, laminate, silver, 18ct gold, steel. 70mm x 70mm x15mm

This month’s brooch is inspired by the artist Agnes Martin. I went to an exhibition of her work at the Tate Modern last year and loved it! All the grids, lines, repetition, pale colours and graphite lines, some on a large scale, some on a small scale – beautiful. The exhibition left me feeling calm and serene and I have tried to infuse this in my brooch. I have gone through quite a few steps to get to this finished brooch and I’ve shared some behind the scenes images with more explanation of my process. (Sold)

March brooch

Laminate, walnut, spray paint, oxidised silver, silver, steel. 65mm x 50mm x 15mm.

Inspiration for this month’s brooch is taken from the coast. I have always loved the sea; standing next to it somehow re-sets me, puts things into perspective and gives me a sense of calm. This brooch is in grey and very pale blue with reticulated silver details reminiscent of shells and pebbles found on the shore. (Sold)

April Brooch

Laminate, wood, silver and oxidised silver. 65mm x 65mm x 15mm.

My initial plan this month was to loosen up a bit! I always make pieces that have a very high finish, are neat and tidy and very detailed and I decided to challenge myself to create a piece that was a bit freer. I chose the artist Cy Twombly as my inspiration because his style is quite free with lots of scribbles and scrawled text in his work. After initial drawings, scribbles and painting on paper I started to trace my mark making and cut out shapes in laminate, then I moved on to drawing with wire and finally I came back round to my usual style! It has taken a lot of routes and some frustration to get to a finished piece I’m happy with. I really like the inlay into laminate and the height on the front so these are two new elements in particular that I’ll take forward into future work. (Sold)

May brooch

Laminate, wood (sapele), white precious metal, oxidised white precious metal. 80mm x 52mm x 24mm.

One of my favourite train routes is the short ride between London Bridge and Waterloo East as you travel amongst the rooftops and chimney pots. I’ve always had a thing for chimneys and saved a whole picture book of them at the library where I used to work – it was being withdrawn and would have ended up in a skip. I am really pleased to have made a piece inspired by them now. (Sold)

June brooch

Wood (sapele), ink, silver, oxidised silver, steel pin. 80mm x 80mm x 25mm.

For most of June I was making a brooch inspired by flowers, however, after the events of 23rd June I needed to make a piece that allowed me to explore the way I felt.

The themes of immigration, economic efficiency and trade dominated the referendum debate and result. But post-vote millions of people are grieving because they believe that collaboration, cooperation and looking outward is the best way forward for living in today’s world; that where you were born or what you look like should not be a barrier; and working towards other themes like equality, justice and environmental sustainability is as vital as economics.  For many people being part of the EU symbolised and went towards delivering this.  So this month’s brooch is both an acknowledgement of this incredible sadness and a tribute to those who in a climate of raw divisiveness will continue to strive for inclusivity and solidarity. (£395)

July brooch

Wood, paint, laminate, oxidised white precious metal, steel pin. 65mm x 65mm x 30mm.

Inspired by Erigeron daisies. I’ve had an extra month to think about this brooch as the daisies were going to be the inspiration for last month, and so my ideas and designs have had more time to change and develop. I have lots of un-used elements that will be used in other pieces. I’m really pleased to have finally used wood turned on my mini lathe in a final piece (I’ve had it for two years!) and I liked the freedom to choose colours that working with paint gave me. (£495)

August brooch

Wood, laminate, resin, oxidised white precious metal, steel pin. 85mm x 45mm x 20mm

Earlier this year I did a mount making and setting setting course and made a series of tapered marquis mounts. I didn’t quite get as far as stone setting so I filled them with orange resin and worked on incorporating them into a brooch. It does look like a leaf and has an autumnal feeling which is appropriate for this time of year however the starting point was the mounts rather than a specific inspiration. (Sold)

September brooch

Oxidised silver, Formica, wood and steel. 85mm x 60mm x 20mm.

Inspiration this month started with a handful of willow offcuts from Anne-Marie O’Sullivan. I thought at first that I was going to incorporate willow into my final piece however instead I used their form and shape as inspiration. The clusters of circles moving across the surface of the brooch are reminiscent of the end of the willow when you clasp a handful. I ended up making two brooches this month, the first looks great from the front however I wasn’t happy with the sides and back. They were too wonky which is ok if it’s meant to be that way, but they were supposed to be straight! I am really happy with the second piece, I like the layers of silver, the bold blue on the front as well as the back. (sold)

October brooch

Formica, walnut, silver, oxidised silver. 83mm x 60mm x 20mm.

Inspiration for this month’s brooch came from a plant I saw on a visit to Chatsworth House. It is either a Rhododendron, Azalea or a Pieris – there has been some debate about which it is and if you have an idea please do let me know. I was drawn to the pattern; green leaves pointing upwards and yellow leaves pointing downwards. I used silver and oxidised silver to mirror this with laminate shadows hand pierced into the surface. (Sold)

November brooch

Laminate, wood, oxidised silver, steel pin. 60mm x 55mm x 20mm.

Inspired by a 1930’s icing set I chose dusty pink laminates with a mint green on the reverse. Delicious. I started with drawings however as usual the piece developed more as I was making it. (sold)

December brooch

Wood, resin, silver, oxidised silver, 18ct gold and diamonds. 65mm x 65mm x 25mm.

Inspiration has come from wintery frost, snow and sparkling ice. This is the last brooch in this series and has 12 diamonds as a reference to the 12 months. I have really enjoyed working on these one off pieces, thinking about different inspirations and trying new techniques. There are still many ideas that I would like to push and I look forward to developing these in future work. (£995)