Before I get started, let me just start with a bit of an introduction (for full group information and a short bio, have a look at the Group Information on the main group page):

I'm currently doing my Masters degree at Birmingham's School of Jewellery in the United Kingdom. For my Masters project I have been researching and developing ways to use plaster as a main material for use in jewellery. I've been working on this since September of 2009 (the MA finishes September 2010 so I'm in the final R&D stages and am now focusing on creating pieces for the final show). Another thing I did as part of the project was to document my development and making processes on a blog. If you'd like to "begin at the beginning", please take a look at - otherwise, enjoy picking it up here and now!

Two New Brooches

It's been a long time coming, but now the studio time has paid off- I've now got two new pieces to show! [clicking on the photo will open up a large-scale version of it if you're interested in seeing more detail]

Floral Wallpaper Brooch
Floral Wallpaper Brooch, side
Floral Wallpaper Brooch, Back

This brooch uses a wallpaper pattern from the early 1900's-

Original Wallpaper

I took photos of the wallpaper (which is still in use at a house here in Birmingham), then used Photoshop to isolate parts of the wallpaper design that I wanted to work with. I changed the scale of various parts of the design (like the line of daisy-ish flowers that are found on a small scale on the front of the brooch, then used as a large piece on the back of the brooch). I made the plaster disc (front and back pieces) first, then set about making a metal frame that would fit around it all. Let's just say that I spend several days filing and sanding that one! All in a day's work, eh?

Damask Brooch
Damask Brooch, Back
Damask Brooch, Side
Damask Brooch, back piercing detail

For the Damask Brooch, I had some photos I'd taken in an 1800's museum house in London-

The Red Room
The Green Room

I loved walking between these two rooms, seeing everything go from reds to greens. I used photographs I took in both of those rooms to inspire this faded red/pink and green pattern that I put together in Photoshop. I liked the way the pattern changed with the folds of cloth on the drapes (as seen in the Red Room photo) and decided to try to mimic this in the plaster damask piece. I'm really pleased with the result: the rigid plaster gets a soft, smooth cloth-like feel with this new method of construction. Always a sucker for punishment, I decided that I wanted a similar damask pattern to be used on the back of the brooch, and set out piercing that pattern into the back plate. I softly formed the back piece of metal, making it curve and ripple slightly to mimic the "cloth" plaster piece at the front. The softly curved metal piece makes a good transition between the very 3-d front element and the very flat brooch back plate.

My normal working method is to only make one piece at a time, and while I work on that piece I'm busy thinking up the next one. Somehow these two pieces ended up happening at the same time- it was a nice change- when I got tired of looking at one pattern for hours on end, I could just change and look at a different pattern for a few hours. The only problem is that since I was concentrating on two pieces at once, I didn't plan out what to do next! I spent a morning at my favorite coffee shop  ( if you're in the Birmingham area, you should give this place a try!), designing some new pieces and now have 8 more designs that could possibly happen.

How does your normal creative process work? Are you a one-at-a-time person, or do you like to have a whole lot of things happening at once? After this unplanned change to my making methods, I've decided it might not be a bad idea to change things around every now and then, just to have a fresh way of working. What do you think?

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