23 Nov 2009

Inspired by an ancient design

Further to earlier blogs about the perpetual gift dilemma, I wanted to make my Mum something a bit different and unusual for her birthday. She doesn’t habitually wear much jewellery and so I settled on the idea of a brooch that she could wear on a coat or fleece, or use to fasten a scarf.

The design makes more sense when you see it at home on some chunky fabric.

The initial idea I sketched a little while ago with a nice lump of lapis lazuli I have put aside for her, mounted in Sterling silver, wasn’t going to be practical, I’d need to buy too many materials and I knew the design was at the limit of my abilities. That in itself is not a bad thing by any means – pushing myself to do things for the first time and outside my comfort zone is precisely how I’ve grown – but I hadn’t allowed myself enough time for that luxury on this occasion.

Please click on the photos to see a larger, clearer version.

As I commented in an earlier blog on the loop-in-loop chain I made in copper, that link format is an ancient design with examples 3000 years old having been found. That set me into looking at old jewellery designs and I was astonished at how contemporary some of the oldest forms still look. I suppose that just goes to prove the adage that good design is still good design – and will remain timeless.

Good design is still good design and will remain timeless.

The one design piece that really captured me was that of Roman fibula – sometimes called Toga pins – usually a T-shaped design with a bow front to accommodate a chunk of fabric where they were fastened at the shoulder and a sprung hinged pin. Many examples were made in copper or bronze with an iron pin for the hardness. Consequently, many have survived and are now a fabulously patinated green colour – but missing their pins.

The pin is sprung at the hinge to give it tension to keep it fastened

The design looked like it had potential to be re-worked and easily decorated – a good variation on my often made kilt style pin. I have a good range of gauges of copper wire in stock, so set about working a small prototype initially, then when it was evident it would work as I hoped, I set to work on a larger final version.

The ‘decoration’ of the pin was provided by 3 strands
of copper twisted together and wrapped around the bow.

For practical, domestic reasons that aren’t of interest, I ended up finishing it in rather a hurry and consequently there are a couple of aspects I would prefer to give more time and attention to. But on the whole, I’m happy with the design and how it works in practice. I’m not sure however that the time it took me to make would make it practical to make to sell. I’d like to make another one, armed with what I learned on the first one, to see if I could hone down that time significantly enough to make it affordable.

One of my favourite parts of it is the scrolled end acting as the clasp.