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  • Caroline Finlay

BROOCH PROJECT 2022



I have been making jewellery for 35 years and during this time have managed to collect lots of 'stuff'. Most is hidden away out of sight, in boxes, accumulating over the years.

This project aims to tackle this problem, I wanted to try to re-use scrapped silver, stones, pottery shards, discarded projects, seconds, unloved pieces etc. by reworking them into a brooch a month.

The idea is to make a brooch that also has some relevance to the month, if possible.



January

We had a winter break at Morar on the west coast of Scotland with daily

walks along the rocky and sandy coastline which inspired my first brooch.

I used an abandoned raised form from a series of pieces I made 10 years ago but never completed into finished pieces. The brooch is enamelled in a beautiful crisp sky blue and softened to a matt finish. A cluster of textured and partially enamelled pieces add to the coastal feel. A very tactile piece.



February

Another coastal inspired brooch, this piece used a white brooch that I wasn't happy with and ended up in the reject pile. I transformed 2 other textural pieces of scrap silver into a tube shape and a textural seaweed piece and added an aqua enamel piece. The 4 pieces were connected from behind into a little sculptural collage brooch. This one isn't as strong at the back as I would have liked and if I was to make it again I'd adapt it slightly but this is the nature of making one-off pieces. Works really well I feel and I love it's delicateness and the crispness that the clean silver and white and pale sea-green enamel give.



March

I can't seem to get past the coastal inspiration - perhaps this one is inspired by dreaming of being by the coast!

Another textured and formed piece, this was one of a trio of brooches that never made it to the kiln. I've re-shaped it and used a soft sea-green enamel with a matt finish and more textured and enamelled shapes clustering along the bottom. Like a little sea creature in a tidal pool.





April

I have been enjoying developing my printmaking skills and working on a range of Scottish island inspired etchings with strong colours using the chine-collé technique. The abstract shapes of the prints have inspired this brooch which uses a strong, opaque green enamel and dark, oxidised silver. The silver was a piece I experimented the technique of reticulation on, adding holes to see how the silver reacted when it was heated to melting point. This technique makes the silver go fairly brittle and I obviously decided not to continue with it. I chose to use a frame to set the enamelled piece onto the brooch and a double pin made from steel which is way stronger and has more tension than silver. I'm really happy with this one :)


May

I have started to learn Beekeeping and in May I had my first opportunity to stand over an open hive and handle frames covered in bees. It was rather daunting to have lots of bees on your hands, even if I was wearing marigolds but it was also the most amazing experience, the hum and buzz from the hives of hundreds of worker bees busy with their chores, such a privilege to observe these amazing creatures.

I used a textured band originally intended as a ring along with a raised test piece and an abandoned bee from my ebb and flow series.The enamelling went very wrong but as is often the case, the result was a happy accident! I used fine silver wire in the cloisonné technique to create the honey cells. There is no way I could repeat this enamel effect again!

Oxidising the silver enhances the piece. I am very happy with this one :)



June

As the months got busier I started to run into difficulties with managing the deadlines!

I was up north in the campervan when the deadline hit and I had to improvise. On the beautiful Clachtoll beach I created a collage brooch using sea urchin shards and seaweed and a crab claw.

To try to replicate this in silver and enamel I decided to go for a mosaic style, something I'd wanted to try for years.

I'm always short on time and just couldn't justify redoing some of the little tiles. If I could have I'd have simplified the colours; perhaps making them all white and pale purple or pale green. I cemented them into the frame and oxidised the piece as I'd used copper for the back (I'm running out of larger silver pieces to use).

It's an interesting technique and I've learnt lots but by the end I preferred the fragility of the original shell mock-up and failed to achieve this with the rather solid final brooch.


July

This brooch was inspired by the piece of pottery I found while walking along the ancient paths around Culross, Fife and the gorgeous yellow-orange of the palace there that is run by the National Trust for Scotland. A simple but effective design using a discarded brooch blank made a few years ago that I reshaped. The pottery piece is held in place with a rub over setting.

I love the contrast of the ceramic blue and the zingy orange enamel.


August


So by now we're 3 months behind schedule!!

As previously said I'm running out of bigger scrap pieces of silver sheet and wanted to make use of some press formed shapes I made over 10 years ago.

I usually like to enamel on silver that is at least 0.8mm thick but most of these pieces are 0.6mm thick. I think they'll be ok so long as I keep the enamel fairly thin.

I wanted to keep the squared shape of the formed pieces - previously I would saw this off with my piercing saw.

I also have lots of silver rings of varying sizes and love the idea of a frothy silver chain like tangled seaweed.

The result is a sea creature inspired piece with a bold, matt blue enamel and an organic cluster of rings. Turn it over for a lichen like, bright orange surprise.

This one is possibly my most unusual design.



September

I'm still trying to catch my tail.....

You know I mentioned in last months post that I usually cut away the surrounding silver, well I have used a piece of this that had a beautiful, even punched texture all the way around, again discarded many years ago. I soldered the join beautifully and it looked perfect with no obvious join however later on in the making the solder join melted open and by then it was impossible to repair without blemish!

I soldered another piece of pierced out sheet to the back with a wire band sandwiched in between to give it height.

I had 3 enamelled pieces I wanted to create a little collage effect with; two were riveted and one I soldered to the back plate which was also oxidised to enhance the enamelled pieces.

The silver is finished in a brushed satin effect which softens it. Happy with this one, 4 more to make in 6 weeks, eeek!

October

I have been keeping up with my printmaking this year and wanted to make another brooch inspired by a recent print from my Islands series.

I used one piece of silver and textured and enamelled the piece to echo my print.

The result is a contemporary, geometric piece with many elements of my usually more organic designs. I love it!


November

This brooch utilises a large raised disc that had been disastrously enamelled and abandoned years ago.

I cleaned it up and soldered on the brooch fittings. I was keen to try a more literal seascape/landscape piece and although I had very little time I feel it worked out ok.

I used an enamel base with liquid painting enamels, cloisonné silver wires and sgraffito to create the effect.




December

My final brooch has a simple but strong design inspired by the familiar boat shape that reoccurs in my work and winter colour. I've opted for my much used split surface effect with a matt finished enamel edged with a texture silver piece that has been oxidised to enhance the beautiful grey enamel.

I really love this one and am considering keeping this as a regular design.



On reflection

I found this challenge very enjoyable but also a little stressful when I fell behind. I feel I've had the chance to explore and experiment which can only enrich my work overall.

Thank you for following my progress, I've loved hearing your comments on Instagram and Facebook and I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Follow me on social media to see how I continue this in 2023 and all brooches are now available to buy in my online shop :)





















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